Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life’ – BKS Iyengar
What is Yoga?
Yoga an ancient art that dates back to more than 5000 years and is considered the oldest form of practice defined for self-development. Classical yoga as a system includes not only physical postures but also breath control, ethical disciplines and meditation. A traditional form of practice originating from the east, the art has now gained a rising demand and popularity in the Western world as well. As a matter of fact, even corporates are realising the muti-fold benefits of yoga as they see relaxed workers in a more creative and healthier state which explains the increasing demand for yoga fitness programs that they are keen on sponsoring.
Studies reveal that if you practice just a little bit of yoga during the mornings, nights or on your lunch breaks too, you will see decreased levels of stress and more productuctivity on the go. Besides the physical benefits that it brings, the regular practice of yoga increases mindfulness, keeps the mood positive and fosters feelings of greater self-compassion.
Is stress letting you down and stopping you from leading a happy-go-lucky life?
The pangs of stress can just creep in and take over your life. Stop letting this nasty element from knocking your door and say no to stress with yoga! Indeed, yoga is said to calm the body, mind and spirit as the various yoga poses help relieve and alleviate stress. For example the bridge pose through its gentle stretching of the legs and back reduces problems like backaches, anxiety and fatigue. Another such easy move of yoga- the cat pose can help relieve stress and in the massage of the spine.
So are you looking for ways to get rid of the unwanted stress and negativity from your life ? Then read on to know more on these 5 yoga poses to decrease stress and the health benefits brought about by them:
How to Relive Stress – Calming Yoga Poses for Stress Relief
- Child’s pose ( Balasana)
- Bridge pose (setu bandhasana)
- Standing forward bend (Uttanasana):
- Eagle pose (Garudasana)
- Corpse pose (shavasana)
Child’s Pose ( Balasana)
How to perform:
- Taking the legs together, kneel down on your yoga mat as you sit back on your heels.
- Bend forward towards your thighs and keep your chest rested on the thighs. Place your forehead on the ground.
- Now move your shoulders ahead and letting your hands rest with the palms facing upward beside your feet, just keep your breath on hold upto 5 times.
Calming Benefits of Child pose :
- This pose is a relaxing posture that silences the mind and helps ease stress.
- The nervous system in our body as well as the lymphatic system are benefitted by the child pose.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
How to perform the bridge pose :
- Bend your knees while lying on your back, and keep your feet placed flat upon the ground, with hip width spaced out;
- Slide your arms beside your body keeping your palms faced down. Keep the tips of your fingers touching the heels lightly.
- Keep your feet pressed against the ground, inhale and raise the hips, while gently sloping the spine away from the floor;while keeping the knees ,hip widely spaced out.
- Press upon your shoulders and arms in order to be able to raise up the chest and employ your buttocks and legs to keep the hips elevated higher.
- Keep around four to eight breaths on hold, then as you release, exhale. Now gradually roll the spine back onto the ground.
Calming benefits of bridge pose :
- Allows the back and legs to gently stretch
- Minimises fatigue, anxiety, insomnia , headaches, and backaches
- May have therapeutic effects in cases of high blood pressure
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
How to perform standing forward bend:
- Exhale forward, while standing. Bend your knees till you can place your palms on the ground flat and keeping the head pressed in opposition to your legs.
- Feel your spine being stretched in the contradictory directions, as your head is drawn in and down. Then squash your hips up and deepen your stretch by straightening your legs,
- Keep on hold till four to eight breaths and then next bend your knees. Now inhale, with arms towards the sides out, then raise up your torso and arms as you get again to the standing position.
Calming benefits of standing forward bend
- The thighs, hips and hamstrings are stretched by the standing forward bend pose.
- This pose is meant to relieve fatigue, mild depression and stress.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
How to perform eagle pose :
- Start by standing while resting your arms by the sides.
- Keeping your knees bended, and balancing your right foot, keep your left thigh crossed over the right one. Now keep the tip of your left foot hooked at the back of your calf on the right.
- Keep your arms extended straight ahead of your body. Let your left arm drop below the right one.
- Keep the elbows bent , and the forearms being raised at 90 degree angle to the floor.
- Keep your hands and arms wrapped while keeping the palms pressed together.
- Keep the hips, chest facing the front wall . Keep your belly drawn in and upward.
- Now fix your gaze towards the tips of your thumbs
- Hold for a minute, then unwind your legs and arms in a gentle manner. Do again on the reverse side.
Calming benefits of eagle pose
- The eagle pose helps alleviate stress through the improvement of balance and focus
- The pose is empowering as it relieves one of tension faced in the back, legs and shoulders.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
How to perform corpse pose :
- Lie down on the ground resting on your back flat. The legs should not be touching each other though should be together. Keep the arms positioned on the sides. Keep your palms faced up.
- Close your eyes and just keep a relaxed face and inhale deep.
- Beginning from the crown of your head, focus your attention towards each body part.
- Keep the position on hold for about three to five minutes.
Calming benefits of the corpse pose
- The corpse pose is aimed towards bringing the body to ease and in a relaxed state
- This pose lets one enter into a state of profound respite that triggers slow breathing, calms down the nervous system and reduces blood pressure.
Stress-Relief Techniques in Yoga
Many popularly known techniques as derived from yoga to decrease stress, have been found to be effective. These include :
- Controlled breathing
- Physical movement
- Mental imagery
The word ‘yoga’ derived from “yoke” means to “bring together.” It is so called because it brings together or unifies the mind, body and spirit. And whatever your purpose – be it spiritual revolution or management of stress along with general well-being, yoga brings with it numerous benefits .
What yoga involves
Yoga, as a practice involves or lets the body stretch and form various poses along with the control of the breath and slow breathing. The body feels energized while also simultaneously relaxed.
Yoga and stress management
Besides, spiritual connectedness, yoga is also applied as a popular means when it comes to stress management.
Yoga entails several mechanisms which effect the stress levels or in other words there are innumerable ways to apply yoga to decrease stress levels. As per studies, it has been revealed that the most beneficial manner by which yoga can trigger off stress is by positively impacting the mood or lifting it .
It has been found that around 80 to 90 % visits made by patients to their doctors are on account of stress-related problems , however sadly only a small percentage of these doctors (below 3 %!) really pay attention to stress minimisation and talk about the same with their patients. Practices on yoga, and meditation systemise and prepare the mind and body to fight stress and foster the general well-being of the individual.
As per a national survey, it was reported by over 85% of the population that practiced yoga, that it did aid them in the reduction of stress. Yes, just excercising may be a good idea to decrease stress, however yoga is quite apart from a weight-lifting activity or a spinning class , in that it has an underlying philosophy that entails awareness and self compassion.
Yoga is non-judgemental
Yoga focuses on being non-judgemental towards others as well as self which is the key to stress relief as one of the common reasons of stress emerges from being negatively affected by others’ behaviour or self behaviour.
Fundamental principle of yoga
Yoga believes in the fundamental principal that the mind and body are one and related to each other. Hence if one of these faces stress, the other one is affected and vice versa. As most of us primarily live within either our body or mind, this leads to creation of an imbalance and absence of awareness. For example, those professionals who have careers that require analytical skills may involve their minds for greater durations without even realising the amount of tension that is being harboured in their bodies. On the other hand, athletes may be more involved in their bodies while focussing lesser on the mind or the mental state. So whichever side is not on the balance, yoga comes to the rescue by helping to restore this balance and successfully pitch in the connection of the body with the mind.
Where and how long does it take to perform and learn yoga poses?
You can perform certain yoga poses at any place where you may be at that moment and a program on yoga could actually go on for several hours or a few minutes , or months depending on your schedule and the kind of program you would like to undertake.
How does yoga help relieve stress?
Yoga helps in reducing levels of stress by :
- Enhancing moods
- Enabling living in the present moment
- Encouraging to take breaks
Comparison of yoga with other stress reduction methods
Since yoga being a practice combines the various techniques aimed towards the reduction of stress, it may be said that this practice combines the benefits of exercises that entail breathing, stretching , fitness programs, guided imagery and meditation practices – an all in one system. However, yoga demands greater effort, dedication and commitment as compared to the intake of herbs or pills to alleviate stress. Again for those who may be faced with greater physical limitations, the simple exercises of breathing, guided imagery or meditation techniques present them the preferable options that they can choose instead of physical exercises and thus they may gain similar benefits.
For beginners, yoga classes can give them a great start to a healthy lifestyle as they have easy access to experts guiding them through the necessary procedure and correcting their asanas that they perform or guide them on the proper breathing techniques.
You can opt for a full-fledged course program on yoga or if limited by time, then go for drop-in-classes on yoga. And if you are serious about taking up yoga as a career then a yoga teacher training program could work best for you.
There are several factors that contribute towards the ability of yoga to help cope up with anxiety and stress. Some of these are :
- Yoga is found to have relaxation benefits as it eases the grip of anxiety from our body through its various poses.
- Yoga slows down and deepens our breath which in turn soothes our nervous system. It teaches us to use this breath control as we go through some poses which might be challenging
- Our bodily awareness is raised through the practice of yoga. The body is found to be carrying unwanted tension. Practicing yoga helps realize this tension and lets the body get rid of it.
So just step into the yoga mat to step out of your worries and tensions in your mind. It is yoga that lets one go off the daily mental pressures that may have to be faced on account of work life, family responsibilities and other social obligations and so on. It does offer the individual his or her “ me time” that again acts as a stress-buster and motivator to live life and look forward to things with positivity and a happy mindset.