Beginner Yoga for stress relief
Do you know anxiety is the most common mental illness in the West, with over 40 million Americans diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, plus many more suffering in silence?
In this post, we will talk about Yoga for stress relief.
In the previous post on 17 stress relief activities you can adopt, we briefly touched upon yoga for stress relief.
and, I could not help but ramble on and on about it.
If I am completely honest with you, I joined yoga 2 years back because I was stressed.
We were going through a lot of ups and downs in our lives, financially and otherwise, which kept me stressed.
and, one day, I burst down in tears and acted like a maniac. Almost like a panic attack (I thought I could not breathe!)
I had to deal with this stress. So, I pushed myself to go Yoga classes. Literally, pushed myself!
For many of you, yoga is a boring thing or an overhyped practice. But, take it from someone who has practiced it for 2 years, it does come with a lot of benefit (especially emotional and mental benefits).
If you have any of these questions –
then, you are at the right place. We will take each one of them.
Does yoga relieve stress?
Of couse, I do not have educational qualifications to claim it relieves stress but I have done my share of research on it.
According to Pyschhology today, In a national survey, over 85% of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress.
In fact, they go on to say that
One of the main concepts in yoga is being non-judgmental toward both yourself and others, which is a powerful tool for stress relief since much of our stress comes from us being hard on ourselves or frustrated with others.
With regular yoga practice, your chronic daytime stress hormone levels drop and your heart rate variability increases, which is a measure of your ability to tolerate stress.
There is also an Harvard study on yoga for stress relief
So, I think we have enough evidence to conclude that yoga is good for reducing stress and anxiety.
Why should you adopt Yoga for stress relief?
Good question. I had that one in mind when I started yoga.
So, let me tell you a few things that are different in yoga (as compared to any other exercise routine)
Yoga is basically a practice that you adopt to keep mind-body harmony. While you can include functional exercises into it, the traditional practice of yoga was wellness oriented.
It combines breathing exercises, poses and meditation to achieve a state of relaxation. You will notice that, after a yoga session, you leave feeling more relaxed and calmer.
Yoga Lowers Tension in your mind and body
Not only does stress build tension in your muscles (especially neck, jaw, shoulders etc), but it also causes emotional stress (leading to stress related disorder)
Yoga postures or asanas are designed to stretch every muscle in your body which helps release tension as well as stiffness.
Yoga Helps To Regulate The Breath
This is the most important aspect of how yoga reduces stress and anxiety.
Breathing is closely linked to our nervous system. So, when you feel anxious or stress, your breathing becomes shallower (short breaths) and faster.
In fact, people tend to hold their breath unconsciously for sometime and then take a big breath – which causes imbalance.
The aim of yoga is to direct your attention to your breathing practices. It helps you take longer, deeper breaths (in general) and be mindful of your breathing – which helps stay calm by soothing the nervous system..
Yoga Interrupts Worry Cycles
Stress is, in all cases, worry related. You are worried about one or the other thing in life – consciously or unconsciously.
Yoga helps shift our attention to our body and breath, thereby shifting your focus to the present.
Being in the present interrupts worry cycles and is generally more calming for the mind!
YOGA FOR STRESS RELIEF
What Type of Yoga is Best for stress and anxiety?
There are many forms of yoga that you can adopt – Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Yin Yoga.
But, if you are a beginner, you do not need to get into that.
Do what is comfortable for you right now. No matter which type of yoga you choose to practice, as long as you are regular, you will start to benefit from it.
To help you get started, this article introduces a few beginner yoga poses for stress relief. Whether you have done yoga in the past or have no experience, you can pick them up easily.
YOGA FOR ANXIETY & STRESS RELIEF – 6 EASY YOGA POSES FOR STRESS RELIEF
These postures are simple and can become part of your morning routine.
Before you start practicing these yoga poses for stress relief, here are a few pointers –
- Take deep and long breaths as you move through the sequence.
When you inhale, feel your stomach moving outwards and when you exhale, feel your stomach going inwards.
- Spend at least 3-5 minutes in each posture for maximum benefit.
- Set a time aside each day to practice these simple yoga poses
- Get a yoga mat and dress comfortably
- Play calming music if you like. My favorites are this and this.
Here are the 6 yoga poses for stress relief.
1. Child’s Pose
Start with the child’s pose. It is one of the best poses to relax your body and mind so you can start the practice.
- Spread your knees in v-shape
- Stretch your arms and move them forward placing them on the mat. Your chest and forehead will be touching the mat.
Don’t worry if it does not. Go as far as you can. With regular yoga practice, your flexibility will increase too!
- Close your eyes and relax. Take deep and mindful breaths.
- Let go as much as possible.
- With each breath, try to relax more and eliminate any thought that comes into your head.
If you do not understand how to do this, watch this mini clip below.
2. Cat and Cow Pose
Come back on your knees from the extended child’s pose.
- Come on to all fours. Your hands should be exactly below your shoulders and your knees below your hip bones.
Keep your back straight.
- Inhale, look up, lower your belly, draw your shoulders togethers and open up your chest.
- As you exhale, press against your palms, round into your back body, draw your shoulder blades apart from each other, look at your navel to find Cat’s pose.
- Continue these movements following you breath.
- Feel the arching movement up and down throughout your back while inhaling and exhaling with the rhythm of the movement.
I know this sounds tough but it basically making a cow and then a cat. Look at this clip –
3. Downward Facing Dog
From the cat and cow position, you will now come into the downward facing dog.
- Lift your knees away from the floor. Keep it slightly bent and the heels lifeted away from the floor.
- Lengthen your tailbone away from the back and move your hip towards the ceiling.
- Now, if you feel confortable, stretch your legs (your knees are not bending in this position).
- Pull your shoulder blades down your back and spread all 10 fingers in the earth.
Down dog stretches the entire length of the back and helps relieve tension in your back.
If you are unable to maintain the posture (or if you have pain in the wrist or hands), you can come down onto forearms.
Just like this –
4. Forward bending fold
Now, I want to to slowly bring your feet close to your hands and come into the forward bending fold smoothly.
Let everything hang – your hands and head. If you are feeling uncomfortable, you can hold opposite elbows with opposite hands.
Close your eyes, dangle from left to right and take deep breaths.
It is time to sit down, crossed leg!
Catch your breath and take five deep breaths – feel the air going in from your nose, to your stomach and out.
5. Seated Forward Bend
Open up your legs and stretch them straight away from the face.
Reach your arms up, extend your spine and stretch your heart forward to touch your toes.
Stretch as far as possible but without being in pain.
This is an exhale position. That means, you will inhale as you extend the spine and exhale completely to come into this position (your stomach is pushed inside providing you more space to stretch).
6. Legs Up the Wall
Place your mat near a wall where you can stretch your leg against the wall.
Move your bottom as close to the wall as possible for this position and stretch your leg up (against the wall).
Keep you arms relaxed on the side with palms facing up.
Close your eyes, feel the warm blood flowing in the reversed direction.
Breathe deeply. Stay in this position for 5 deep breaths.
7. Corpse Pose
Time to end the practice.
You are required to lie down on your mat with arms by your side (and palms facing up).
Relax your body and leave it loose.
Close your eyes and make sure you are comfortable.
Take deep breaths, in and out, till you are completely relaxed.
In this state, your mind can either focus on the breathing or feel what you body is undergoing (any throbbing sesation, pain, any area that feels good etc). Connect with your breathe and body.
Lie down for at least 5-10 minutes depending on the intensity of your practice session.
Once you wake up, it is time for pranayam and meditation.
But, we will deal with that later.
First get into a routine of doing these 7 yoga poses for stress relief.
It will take you 15-20 mins at max.
Do not forget to share it or save it on Pinterest. Comment below and let me know if you are going to take up yoga?