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Yoga For Stress And Anxiety Relief

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
Jun 20, 2008
Today's lifestyles define the word, "stress." More than 19 million Americans suffer from some from of anxiety on a regular basis. Part of what contributes to the increase in stress, and anxiety, is that very few people know how to manage their stress.

Some of those, who know how to manage stress, fail to create a plan of action. In a nutshell, Yoga can provide the means to cope and reduce stress. Allowing stress to become chronic, or permitting anxiety to take over one's life, can be seriously detrimental to a person's health.

Stress can cause a variety of health problems. Existing conditions, illness, and ailments, are worsened, if they are allowed to thrive through stress. Anxiety and stress can lead to a paralyzed existence, or inability, to function.

The good news is that yoga works to loosen the tension in the mind, body, and spirit. Even the medical community has begun to recognize what yogis have known for hundreds of years.

The core goal of yoga is to reach a state of tranquility, completeness, and peaceful union, of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Is there a better way to calm your worry?

The methods of breathing, and focused meditation, draw your mind away from stressful distraction. Visualization during breathing, and the performance of yoga postures, plant your mind in a place of calm.

These practices are designed to give you a place to heal, a path to move forward, and the ability make progress. Without first allowing you a place to rest or heal, you cannot move forward from anxiety and stress.

There are several different types of yoga practices. Yoga styles vary in philosophy, approach, intensity, and format, but they all grant varying benefits on practitioners.

A calmer, slower, but physical type of yoga, is Hatha yoga; one of the nine main styles from India. This type of yoga is both designed to calm the student, and can be structured to meet the needs of anyone, of any age, or physical condition.

Hatha yoga also has several sub-styles, but all have the same three main focal points of controlled breathing (pranayama), postures (asanas), and meditation.

Yoga breathing is called pranayama. Pranayama (or "control of the life force"), also literally translated as, "breath control," is just that. Controlled breathing in different styles has a detectable, and welcomed effect, on the psyche and the body.

Slow the heart rate, feel less out of breath, and relax your muscles, beginning with your breath. Research has shown that yoga breathing techniques are beneficial treatment for stress and stress-related problems. The mind is calmed, and the judgment is clearer, as yoga breathing is practiced on a regular basis.

Yoga breathing involves a range of deep, slow, rhythmic breaths. If you pay attention to your breath, when you are stressed, it will be irregular, shallow, nervous, and jagged. This happens involuntarily as a response to stress, but this rapid, shallow breathing actually amplifies stress levels.

The result is a vicious cycle that can climax into a panic attack for those with anxiety disorders. Practice controlled breathing, daily, as a stress management technique. This breathing can be done anywhere, at any time.

Breath control, combined with Hatha yoga poses, stretches and strengthens the muscles of the body. Stress often triggers muscle clenching, spasms, and an overall aching discomfort in the body. Poses, such as the mountain pose, supported bridge pose, child's pose, and happy baby pose, are all excellent for relaxation and stress relief.

Depending upon the lesson plan, each session of Hatha yoga can involve from 10 to 70 poses. Yoga instructors often end each class with Sivasana (Corpse Pose). This pose finishes up many classes because of the relaxing properties.

Through regular yoga practice, the body is also better supported, throughout the day, in posture, strength, and flexibility. Yoga relieves fatigue and helps you feel more energized. When a person feels physically stronger and more able, the emotional benefits are extraordinary. It's much easier to go out and face the day and put stress on the "back burner."

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/member-offer.html
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