Can Yoga Help Reduce Stress And Anxiety?

Yoga is an Eastern practice that has been around for thousands of years. The basic principles of yoga start with breathing which is done in coordination with movement into different physical postures and a practice of meditation. The word yoga is a derivative of the word yoke (to bring together). You might be able to ascertain from the combination of movement, breathing and meditation, that yoga can relax the mind, body, and spirit. Just using proper breathing techniques can be a start to the reduction of stress and the quelling of anxious thoughts. Meditation is used worldwide as a way to center oneself and release the bad energy and unpleasant thoughts we all experience.

Many cultures, particularly Americans, consider yoga as a great addition to a fitness program and some even practice it for weight loss and muscle toning. While that is a possible side effect of practicing yoga, fitness is not the main goal. Stress reduction, clearer minds, and stronger bodies are what yoga can produce when practiced regularly. Even 10 minutes of yoga in the morning or before bed can be a game changer especially for people suffering from overwhelm and anxiety. Just yoga breathing even without the movement can be helpful.

Many corporations seek ways to increase the health and happiness of their staff of employees in an effort to increase productivity. Yoga, stretching, breathing, and meditation classes are being offered by some companies as an incentive and perk for their workers. While this is a nice employee benefit, it also helps decrease loss of time on the job and even lessens the likelihood of injuries in the workplace. Workers are happier and more relaxed therefore they do a better job.

Can yoga help with any physical and mental issues I might have?

When practicing yoga, you might find that you get deeper and more restful sleep. It can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels and it is believed to improve overall health. Of course, you will likely feel stronger and see more flexibility of your muscles.

Besides the physical improvements you may see, yoga can lift your spirits, help you feel more positivity, and of course, reduce stress. If you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, adding yoga to your daily routine may be something that you and your therapist should explore. Often anxiety is accompanied by poor sleep and other physical manifestations of poor health that come along with it. A small amount of effort can bring huge benefits.

You don’t have to attend a class though there are classes held in most areas. Due to COVID some of those have been moved outdoors when possible or into larger spaces with less attendees allowed. But there are so many videos on YouTube that you can watch to learn the poses and the breathing techniques you need to get the hang of the practice of yoga. While there are various styles of yoga, some more difficult that others, you don’t have to become an expert and there are simple stretches and breathing exercises for beginners if you are just getting started.

Studies have shown that yoga can help with self-compassion and increased mindfulness thus reducing stress. Getting into a better mood, being kinder to oneself, more positive and grateful can help with depression.

If you have physical ailments or limitations, don’t despair. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Some community and senior centers even offer chair yoga and there are videos to help you learn that right at home as well. Yoga instructors will not push you to do what you cannot do. There is no shame in not being able to get fully into a pose and no one should pressure you to go beyond what you are capable of. If you are in a pose and start to experience pain, scale back. Yoga is the practice of, “no pain… no pain.” There is no need to “gain” anything except inner peace, relaxation, and improved health and spirit.

If you are experiencing difficulty with your mental health, anxiety and/or depression and would like the advice of a licensed mental health provider, please contact us at Advantage Mental Health Center –

Picture Credit: Freepik