When it comes to anxiety and stress, yoga really can be magical. I have personally experienced radical changes in my life from practicing yoga daily. Anxiety can last for just a few moments when you experience a high level of stress, or it can be chronic and constant in your life. However, your anxiety manifests, it feels awful. You lose your focus and in this day and age, it is so easy to feel anxious and stressed out. So shouldn’t there also be an easy way to combat it? Well, that’s where the magic of yoga comes in.
Yoga comes with many powerful tools because the discipline focuses on three aspects of you; the mind, body, and soul. So regardless of what anxiety is for you, whether a temporary thing or a constant feeling, yoga can help you manage it. Stress is something that we experience naturally. It is attached to your fight or flight system. Adrenaline pours into the body when you stress about the smallest of things. This causes you to potentially make huge decisions based on a fleeting thought that invoked your stress sensors. Knowing how to calm down the nervous system quickly is essential in living a life where you get the most out of it.
Here’s how yoga reduces stress and manages these issues effectively.
Yoga and Meditation to Prevent Anxiety
If you begin your day feeling relaxed, it’s harder for life’s unforeseen events to stress you out. Do a session of yoga, followed by a brief meditation in the morning. Yoga will help you prepare for meditation and stretch out the kinks from your sleep. Slow poses that allow you to deeply stretch out the hips help ease any stress that has stuck around from the previous days. Anxiety likes to sit within your hip crease, so when you stretch them out, you release that unwanted stress.
The meditation is important because you learn to hone “mindfulness.” Yogic breathing throughout meditation will help you focus. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and thinking of nothing else. When you can master this sitting in peace, you can incorporate it into your day. Practice as often as you can throughout the day.
It’s challenging to find clarity and peace in crazy moments that you’re conditioned to stress over. When you can master mindfulness, you won’t need to worry about becoming anxious under unexpected challenges. When you stay calm, you are more capable of fixing the problem. It all starts with the yoga poses that promote the peace within.
Instant Yoga During Times of Stress
If you do get stressed, you can quickly do some breathing that will reduce stress in the nervous system. Studies have shown that yoga and its self-soothing techniques can prevent the onset of anxiety. It also reduces anxiety immediately, modulating the stress response system. When you feel anxious, your breath becomes shallow. It’s because your system is preparing to use all of its power to either fight or run away.
Any yoga pose will aid your breathing which will instantly relax you. Even if you just put both of your arms up over your head and do a side bend. Breath in as you look up, hold your breath in as you bend your arms to the right, slowly breath out as you come back to center. Do this on the other side. It will make you feel better immediately. It is believed that yoga, in general, helps the heart rate which also helps your body respond to stress more efficiently.
Yogic Breathing Eases Stress in the Body
When you feel extreme pressure, it may pass, but it will often usually manifest in the body. Doing yogic breathing will help release the stress from your shoulders, back, and neck. You should try to remember to breathe deeply throughout your day. As small stresses can build up, you can get rid of it little by little through the act of breathing. There are probably times you’ve noticed yourself sighing close to the end of your work day. This is your body doing some involuntary de-stressing.
Breathing in deeply will give you more oxygen to your heart, lungs, and brain. This activates the body’s relaxation response which will reduce any anxiety or stress you’re experiencing. When you are diligent enough about a breathing session at your desk, you decrease cortisol in your body. This is the natural chemical that causes stress in the body.
Stress and anxiety can prevent you from doing things you want to do. They get in the way of your ultimate success and meeting goals that matter to you. It takes more effort to continue allowing these feelings to control your life than it does to get on the mat and release the pressure. The great thing is, you don’t even have to get on your yoga mat. You can do yogic breathing exercises in an elevator or on public transit. You can do simple poses at your desk. The magic to dissipate negative stress immediately is yours.
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Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential training in India (Rishikesh, Goa, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)