How Yoga Can Help with Anxiety and Stress

Yoga is one of the most beneficial whole body exercises for people of all ages and fitness levels. When practiced regularly, it can positively impact the mind, body, and soul. And did you know it can also help reduce stress and anxiety levels? We could all use some stress and anxiety relievers! So let’s take a look at how yoga can help with anxiety and stress.

 

A Bit About Yoga as a Practice

But first, let’s talk a little about the yoga practice itself. Yoga is a more than 5,000-year-old mind-body practice. Itencompasses many styles, all of which focus on breathing techniques to maximize their benefits. Yoga also focuses on the seven major chakras to free blocked energies, which can manifest in issues of imbalances in the body, including anxiety. Traditional yoga has come a long way as its popularity has skyrocketed in the last few decades. You may have heard of a variety of types of yoga such as power yoga, a more athletic yoga practice based on ashtanga; hot yoga, practiced in purposefully hot and humid conditions; and even aerial yoga, which implements a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling. Yoga can be gentle and powerful, and restorative too. It’s ideal for pregnantwomen, seniors and kids. Overall it’s a great practice to begin at any age or stage in life — and its benefits are numerous.

 

Yoga in Science

According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety, and “can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.” This could be due to the controlled breathing aspect of yoga, which can be calming during an anxiety-inducing situation, or due to the meditation elements of yoga, which can help people be more mindful and be in the present moment (versus worrying or stressing about something that they can’t control, that hasn’t happened, or may not even happen).

An article on the New York Times website explains one way yoga reduces stress is “through regulating the nervous system — specifically the autonomic nervous and its response to stress.” The article suggests this can be done by literally toning your nervous system through a balance of both slow, calm yoga practices and more rigorous ones, which can “help improve our nervous system’s ability to find balance and cope with stress.”

Further still, an article on the Harvard Medical School website provides more scientific backing, noting: “By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”

There’s no time like the present to become more mindful and in the present moment — especially in the name of reducing stress and anxiety. And we haven’t even touched on all the other amazing benefits of yoga including increased muscle tone, increased energy, a stronger heart, expanded lung capacity, chronic pain relief, weight loss, detoxification and improved balance, flexibility, and strength! The Village near you has a variety of yoga classes including traditional, hot yoga, restorative, and aerial yoga too. So what are you waiting for? Reduce your stress and anxiety levels with