5 Proven Ways Yoga Can Help You Effectively Manage Stress

In a world with more people than ever experiencing stress and anxiety, many are turning to yoga for help. Although yoga has long been known to help people relax and find peace in body, , mind and soul, there is now a growing body of scientific research to back these claims up-ring the body’s relaxation response, yoga has been shown to help people reduce their stress levels and relieve many of the conditions caused by chronic stress. 

If you are reading this article, you are probably looking for ways to effectively manage and reduce stress in your life. Let’s see how you can reach the highest mindfulness through yoga and do what is best for your mental and physical health.

Yoga reduces Cortisol Production – The Stress Hormone

So, how does yoga reduce stress? Although many benefits of yoga can’t be measured, there is growing scientific evidence which shows that yoga for stress and anxiety relief actually works. Numerous studies have shown that regular practice can reduce the secretion of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone (1, 2). Cortisol is one of the hormones which triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response, also known as the stress response. By regulating the breath and allowing the body to relax, yoga can reduce the secretion of this hormone and encourage the production of oxytocin and endorphins – the ‘happy hormones’ – instead. 

Yoga encourages Mindfulness

Even a brief 10-minute pranayama (breathing exercise) practice invites you to slow down and cultivate stillness in both body and mind. Stress often arises from worrying about the future -not getting there fast enough- or feeling overwhelmed by having too much to do; therefore, taking time out of the day to enjoy the present moment can be an invaluable tool. Using the breath, yoga can allow you to discover being fully present in stillness, and in doing so come back into a state of balance. Discovering how to create a sense of calm within yourself is a lesson that you can take off the yoga mat and incorporate into everyday life. 

Yoga relieves from Physical Symptoms of Stress

Although stress is most often associated with our mental and emotional health, it frequently manifests physically. Many people suffering from stress often also experience painful side effects and discomforts such as chronic back pain, insomnia, digestive or stomach problems, and high blood pressure. 

Studies have shown that a yoga practice which includes physical postures, breathwork and meditation can reduce hypertension (3, 4), improve sleep quality (5) and ease low back pain (6). Thanks to yoga’s nurturing of the mind-body connection, yoga helps to address not only the emotional stress but the body’s physiological response, too. 

Yoga for stress

Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system

Any time we feel stressed or anxious, our bodies activate our sympathetic nervous system -also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Although this stress response is useful in some situations, we haven’t evolved to live constantly in a high-stress state. Unfortunately, this is what many people find themselves experiencing due to high-pressure jobs and busy lifestyles.

Yoga, on the other hand, can help you manage stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system instead – the ‘rest and digest’ response. Through breathing exercises, postures and meditation, this restorative nervous system allows the body to find deep relaxation and repair damage caused by stress. 

Yoga helps you observe how you react to feelings of stress and discomfort – and how to overcome them

Hatha yoga, in particular, where postures are held for longer, can help you observe how you respond to feelings of stress. It may sound simple, but holding your body in the same position for extended periods can cause all sorts of feelings to arise, including stress. A yoga practice empowers you to observe how you react when you feel uncomfortable on the mat -and helps you on how to overcome those feelings. Discovering how to nurture non-reactivity and remain calm under pressure isn’t only a skill that you’ll use during your yoga practice; it can also help you manage stress in your daily life, too. 

Are you suffering from stress, and you are curious about how yoga could help you manage it? Join our yoga classes or get in touch


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