How Yoga Can Eliminate Stress and Anxiety
by Sam Foster
Yoga is helping my mother overcome stress and anxiety, and many women use this soothing relaxation technique to cope with difficulties in their own lives.
Stress and anxiety can come at the most inopportune times and can make performing even the most simple of tasks a stressful endeavor. Being that this hinders so many individual’s day-to-day lives, relaxation techniques are popping up all over the internet. They range from taking some deep breaths to treating yourself to a long bubble bath. The reality is that these techniques only work to alleviate symptoms when they crop up and aren’t always available. The key is to find ways to minimize stress on a regular basis instead of only treating it when you feel the effects.
My Mother’s Battle With Anxiety
My mom went through serious phases of stress and anxiety when her own mother passed away. It had been a long battle with cancer that my grandmother eventually lost and my mother had quit her job to be her primary caregiver through it all. This of course, is no easy task and the effects of the circumstances had become extremely apparent in my mother. Stress and anxiety had completely taken over. Add that in to her depression over losing her mom, and she was in pretty bad shape.
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your body making it difficult for you to perform throughout your day and focus on important things. Not only does stress affect your daily life, but it also affects your overall health. Chronic stress and anxiety has been related to high blood pressure, heart disease and other life threatening conditions. For these reasons, it is important to take on stress and anxiety headfirst and not wait until you are feeling the effects of them.
Yoga as a Form of Stress Management
Yoga is an all-around power house when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. The mental and physical aspects of yoga work in conjunction to help keep the mechanisms behind stress and anxiety at bay. It took a lot of time to convince my mother to start taking care of herself again, but when she did, she started with yoga.
Everything begins with a breath. Taking time out of every day to focus on your breath can turn stress and anxiety into ease and relaxation. By being aware of how your breath moves in and out of your body, it forces you to calm your mind. As your mind calms, you will slowly sort through and let go of worries. Focusing on your breath is an integral part of yoga practice that will help you free your mind and connect to your body. It will allow you to let go of negative thought patterns and return with a new perspective.
As you become more experienced with yoga and you begin to hold poses for longer periods of time, focusing on your breath will help you maintain focus and allow yourself to simply be in the pose as you are. Learning to focus on your breathing while on the mat will also help you breathe when you are confronted with a particularly stressful situation or feel a bout of anxiety coming on.
Yoga is Exercise
Yoga is a form of exercise that is more than just bending yourself into a pretzel. Depending on the type of yoga you practice, it can be very intense. Hatha yoga is one of the most common forms of yoga practiced in the West and it largely focuses on movements through poses. It is great exercise for your entire body, including your heart. Moving through the poses increases your heart rate and gets your circulatory system moving, helping to clear out toxins. Yoga poses will also help you to relax the tension in your muscles. Because your mind and body are connected, your mind will subsequently relax.
Exercises, such as yoga, not only promotes good health but it also releases endorphins, and in a much larger and more sustainable amount than chocolate. Put simply, endorphins make you happy and when you are happy, you are less likely to experience stress and anxiety.
I can’t say for sure whether or not yoga has completely cured my mom of her stress and anxiety but I have seen a great difference in her since she started practicing. The lines in her face have softened and her laugh has slowly come back. She resumed working and even though all immediate signs of her loss are gone, she still practices yoga on a daily basis.
Sam Foster is a health writer with a passion for running, swimming, and cycling. When he’s not gearing up for his next Iron Man or triathlon he writes for St. Luke’s Hospital, one of the nation’s top hospitals in heart care.
Main Photo: Wikipedia.
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