Thursday, October 4, 2012

How Yoga Helps You De-Stress

Over the past decade, the yoga craze has been sweeping the Western world.  What previously was seen as being odd or Eastern superstition has now become a Western staple.  Yoga can strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and help you sleep better.  But perhaps the most useful effect of yoga is its ability to decrease stress; something we seem to have more and more of every day.  If it seems the world is piling up on you and you just need a break, why not finally give in to the craze and try some yoga exercises?  They’ll not only reduce your stress level, they can also help you live a longer, healthier life. 

While there are many different kinds of yoga, most revolve around the same principles.  What we refer to as yoga now is a method of balancing the systems of your body using poses and deep breathing methods.  These methods help stretch muscles, massage internal organs, and leave your mind in a peaceful state.  The full concept of yoga also includes balancing diet and other aspects of your life. 

You should choose a method of yoga based on what classes and books are available to you, your dedication to yoga, and your physical skill level.  You should research all options available to you in order to find the best fit.

So why is yoga so good at relieving stress?  First, in addition to the poses and breathing, it emphasizes a healthy and balanced lifestyle, leading to a healthier body and mind. Yoga also helps build stamina and strength which can help you cope better with the physical aspects of stress.  It also helps to calm you physically and mentally.  This helps to relieve the stress you may have built up through the day.  It also emphasizes proper breathing methods.  Generally we take short shallow breaths.  The long deep breaths used in yoga promote relaxation by changing the carbon dioxide levels in the blood.  Lastly, yoga can help promote a full, restful night’s sleep.  Getting enough sleep is very important in helping the body and mind heal.  This leaves you ready to cope better with stressors the next day.

Adding visualization to your yoga exercises can make them even more relaxing and more effective at relieving stress.  The concept is to visualize images that will guide your mood.  If you think of sad things during your visualizations, you’ll become sadder.  This also means that if your mind wanders to work and other stressors, you’ll become more stressed.  By teaching yourself to concentrate on peaceful and relaxing images, you will help relive even more stress from your body. 

While they may take time, practice, and patience to master; yoga and visualization techniques can be great tools to help you relax, unwind, sleep better, and stay healthy and happy. 

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