There are many good reasons to take up yoga. Not only can it help you to increase your flexibility but it’s also excellent for toning up muscle, for losing flab and for combating chronic pain.
But did you also know that yoga is brilliant for fighting stress? There are many aspects of this activity that make taking up yoga for stress a smart move. Read on and we’ll look at some of the ways it can help to keep you calm and relaxed.
A large part of yoga is stretching and holding positions to try and improve the mobility of joints and connective tissue. This can in turn help to fight pain and it’s brilliant for athletes and others who want to be more mobile and to move better.
Meanwhile though, stretching is also one of the best aspects of yoga. There are a number of reasons for this.
For one, stretching can help you to release muscle tension. As muscle tension is a big symptom of stress that can cause pain, discomfort and difficulty sleeping, this is a good way to combat one of the main negatives of stress. At the same time, relaxing the muscles and easing tension this way can have the effect of making you feel calmer and releasing more relaxing hormones and neurotransmitters. Tensing actually triggers the fight or flight response to a degree and stretching can reverse this process.
Stretching also promotes circulation which helps blood and oxygen get to the brain, immediately promoting mood elevation.
Another reason that you should consider yoga is simply that it is a form of exercise. While it might not be the most vigorous, it still requires continuous exertion which increases the heart rate and generally improves health and fitness.
All forms of exercise are known to trigger the release of endorphins which act like natural painkillers and antidepressants. Practicing yoga can be enough then to stimulate something of a mild ‘runner’s high’.
A big part of yoga is the breathing. Yoga concentrates a lot on breathing in a deep and controlled manner, which is one of the best known ways to reduce a rapid heart rate and to encourage the action of the parasympathetic nervous system to engage the ‘rest and digest’ state – the antithesis to ‘fight or flight’.
Pain is something that can seriously contribute to stress and if you live with chronic pain then any stressful situation is likely to seem just a little worse. Stretching is a very effective way to combat pain of various kinds, which in turn means that yoga can also aid stress in the long term.
Another benefit of yoga that is very often overlooked is the simple fact that you are taking time out of your day. Whether you’re going to a class or you’re doing a yoga session at home, you will find that giving yourself 10-60 minutes to focus on yourself and to stop worrying about things can be very therapeutic.
If you do go to a class, then you’ll have the social element too which is also highly effective at combating stress. For all these reasons, yoga is perfect at helping you to fight stress in both the short and long term and is something that can help many people.