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Inhale…Exhale…

Let’s talk about stress relief.

With everything going on in the world today, it can be hard not to feel anxious on a regular basis. But, with stress having such a negative effect on overall health, it’s important we learn the tools to help manage our feelings and decompress when needed.    

One tool that has many stress-reducing benefits is the ancient practice of yoga. Yoga can seamlessly fit into any schedule. It can be practiced anywhere at any time, and no one else’s presence is necessary. Not only is yoga helpful for your joints and muscles, but it also frees your mind and helps you maintain a positive outlook and clearer headspace.

Advantages

Yoga is an archaic practice believed to have been created over 5,000 years ago in Northern India by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. Hatha yoga, or the physical practice, incorporates discipline to strengthen the body and mind. This osteopathic approach to wellness focuses on your body’s natural tendency to heal itself. Yoga helps circulation and blood flow, getting more oxygen to your cells and improving cell function. Moving through different yoga postures creates lymph drainage from contracting and stretching your muscles. Draining the lymphatic system helps fight off infection, destroy cancerous cells, and rids toxic waste within the cells.

Physical health benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved mobility, posture, and balance
  • Better respiration, vitality, and energy
  • Weight loss
  • Enhanced circulatory health
  • Heightened athletic ability
  • Injury prevention
  • Improved strength and muscle tone
  • Boosted immune system

Mental Health benefits of yoga include:

  • Helping stress management
  • Encouraging healthy coping skills
  • Creating mental clarity
  • Resetting your mindset
  • Sharpening concentration
  • Helping control anger
  • Increasing body awareness
  • Promoting optimism and calmness

Improvements

When it comes to the various ways yoga can improve your life, the list is truly endless.

The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology proved in a 2016 study that yoga can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, and the risk of heart disease. Additionally, the American Heart Association claims that yoga can lower cardiovascular risk factors by slowing down the body’s stress response and activating the “rest and digest” system.

It’s also believed that specific poses like skull shining breathing (kapalbhati pranayama) were designed to help congestion and fight against cold and flu symptoms. Because breathing is such a significant part of the practice, yoga has been proven to improve lung function and expand breathing capabilities. In a time where COVID and other respiratory viruses are widespread, strengthening your lungs is a simple yet effective way to help protect your health.

 Other poses that can help you recover from feeling under the weather include the standing forward bend, supported bridge pose, legs up the wall pose, supported bound angle pose, reclining twist, and widespread forward bend. For visual representations of these poses courtesy of Yoga Journal, click here

Additionally, certain yoga poses are said to relieve the following:

  • Chronic stress
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Menopause
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Digestive issues
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain

Yoga practice is just that—practice. In order to see and sustain positive changes in your life, it’s important to be consistent with your routine. Whether you join a studio, or follow along with videos from the comfort of your own home, we highly encourage you to invest in your health and wellness through stress-reducing exercise!

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