yoga for stress relief

[Stress Guest Post]

Life can be stressful for people of any age. The daily life can be very hectic, with schoolwork, exams, work, social life, and other important things. A lot of factors need to be balanced and it can be difficult, even for adults.

Stress is a natural defense installed in our bodies to escape predators and other dangers. During a “fight or flight” moment [1], the body releases hormones that prepare the body to escape or confront the challenge being faced. These chemical compounds released in the body include adrenaline, non-adrenaline, and cortisol or the “stress hormone” [2].

While stress can be a good motivator for some and is essential for survival, over time, stress can build up and could cause a person to break down. Stress can also harm one’s health and it could turn into something serious overtime.

Common Causes of Stress

Different people manage stress differently, whether it be partying, going out with friends, playing, or exercising. One of the best ways to release stress naturally is by doing yoga. It can be said that the most instant benefit a person can get from practicing yoga is reducing stress, whether it is caused by emotions or physical fatigue.

Using Yoga For Stress Relief

Through yogic breathing, oxygen can move better into the body. When oxygen flows into the lungs to the brain and other parts of the body, it activates its relaxation response that decreases stress. By breathing consciously, awareness and mindfulness are improved. One common yoga breathing technique is Ujjayi Breath (or Oceanic Breath).

Breathing is an essential part of life and through the breathing techniques incorporated in the practice of yoga. The breathing techniques learned from yoga can be done anywhere at any time. Whether you are at school, in the office, or public transportation you can release the stress in the body.

The different poses and meditation used in yoga also work to calm the mind and relax the body. Meditation sends the focus and attention into tranquility. When in a stressful situation, instead of the body being in an active sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and the “fight or flight” response is changed into a relaxed state.

The combination of these three practices is a great way to reduce the primary stress hormone produced in the body called Cortisol. This stress hormone is released when the body experiences any event that triggers the “fight or flight” mechanism. The increase of cortisol levels in the body can be harmful to the mind and body.

The decrease of cortisol in the body also signals the reduction of stress. This was proven by a study done in 2013 wherein a group of people were subjected to different treatments. It was observed that the patients who were introduced to doing yoga had a significant reduction in the cortisol level.

Besides this, practicing yoga induces the release of chemicals or “happy hormones” like serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. These chemicals affect a person’s mood, behavior, and emotions. With these chemicals, the body can feel more refreshed and uplifted.

3 Easy Yoga Poses for Stress

1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) 

This is a great pose for opening the chest, the heart, and the shoulders. The mild inversion of the heart during the pose helps with decreasing the effects of anxiety, depression, and stress. 

How to do it: Lie flat on your back. With bended knees, keep feet on the floor with hip-width apart. Place arms on the side of the body with palms facing the floor. With an inhale, lift your back from the floor. Roll your shoulders so that your chin touches your chest. Firm your buttocks and put hands together by interlacing the fingers. Use your hands to lift your torso higher. Your bodyweight should be supported by the shoulders, arms, and feet. Hold the pose and breathe slowly.

2. Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Child’s pose is a good pose for releasing body tension. It helps in reducing fatigue and stress. Aside from stretching the body, it also massages the organs inside the body. Because of its folded position, it encourages the right breathing techniques that help calm the mind and body. 

How to do it: Kneel on the floor with the big toes touching each other. Lower the buttocks to sit on our heels and inhale. Exhale as you bend forward and let your torso rests on your thighs. Let your headrest on the floor. Stretch both arms forward and keep in line with your knees. Hold the position. Breathe slowly and deeply.

3. Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin Pose) 

This pose helps calm the brain and relieves stress. It is also great for reducing fatigue, sleep problems, and headaches. Because of its inverted V position, the calves, hamstrings, and shoulders are stretched and strengthened. 

How to do it: The Table-top position is a good pose to start the Dolphin pose with. Lower the forearms on the ground while keeping the elbows and shoulders aligned. On an exhale, lift the pelvic area and straighten both legs. Tuck your toes for a comfortable position and walk towards your arms. Relax the neck and hold the position. Breathe deeply.

Stress can hinder a lot of things and even simple daily tasks can become challenging. In the long run, when under too much stress, emotional, psychological, and physical health can be negatively affected. It can turn into serious health conditions if it is not given attention and may result in a poor lifestyle.

It is important for the body to find balance and tranquility and this can be achieved naturally by practicing yoga. Regardless of which pose or type of yoga you use, it can effectively reduce stress. You will feel better overall mood and feel refreshed!

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