A major cause of illness is due stress. Since stress is such a large factor in our everyday lives, today’s post is going take a look at why you should be using Yoga for Stress Relief.
Yoga is not the only form of exercise that reduces stress – as a matter of fact any exercise will help. Physical activity boosts the production of hormones designed to moderate your emotions and mental state. Yoga uses physical poses, so in this way it helps reduce stress like any other exercise.
However, using yoga for stress release is particularly valuable because yoga, by its very nature is also a practice of relaxation, correct breathing and meditation. It is a coming together of the mind and body. Yoga, combined with proper breathing and breath control, speeds up your stress relief above that of simple exercise.
Here’s the short list of some of the problems that stress can cause:
When our bodies react to various outside stimulation the sympathetic nervous system can trigger stress in our metabolism. This is often referred to as a fight or flight response and we react in one of two ways:
1. Physiological Manifestation (Fight)
2. Emotional Reactivity (Flight)
The type and intensity of your behavioral response is directly related to the intensity of emotion. Therefore, individuals with a higher level of emotional reactivity are more likely to react with high levels of anxiety and aggression.
Processes considered non-essential like digestion and elimination are shut down when blood flow to internal organs is reduced. This state of increased awareness and readiness is beneficial on a short term, preparing your body to react to the outside interventions and stimuli. In other words your body is physically and mentally prepared to act.
The problem arises when long-term exposure to similar stress takes place. This fight or flight response is only meant to help for short periods of time when you are in danger. When this response activates regularly due to everyday stress the body has less resources to function normally.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System – a Natural Countermeasure for the Fight or Flight Response
Also called the relaxation response, its main function is to activate the “rest and digest” response and return balance to the body. The response will activate automatically when the elements that causing the stress are gone.
Even though the relaxation response mentioned above is automatic, it is possible to increase its effects by breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles. When you increase the duration of this process your body will recover faster, enabling it to get rid of the harmful effects of stress easily and quickly.
Studies have also shown that practicing yoga for stress relief can regulate a healthy heart rate and lower high blood pressure.
The mind is like a powerful computer – use it! When you perform yoga poses, practice mindful meditation and breathe correctly, your mind becomes more aware and capable.
By combining breathing, physical poses and mental practices, you can reduce your stress levels and the way you respond to stress by looking at perceived dangers as challenges rather than threats. This approach allows your mind to focus on finding a solution, rather than creating an abrupt response. Another concept employed by this technique is that of acting versus reacting, of taking initiative versus responding to outside factors.
This enhanced mental state dictates your physical health, and even how your complex physiological processes interact and operate. The result? You are healthier, happier, and less inclined to stress!
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