Oftentimes, we blame weight gain and skin blemishes on a poor diet, but sometimes these symptoms are a sign of a much bigger problem: stress. Stress can give us headaches, muscle pain, problems sleeping, and can even cause us to rapidly gain or lose weight.
This can be quite scary—especially for someone with a high-stress career or lifestyle. But, rest assured, there are ways we can combat overwhelming stress. One of the best ways to combat stress is yoga.
Not only is yoga a great exercise that elongates your muscles, affords you better flexibility, and strengthens your core, but yoga also gives you time to meditate and calm your mind.
Using Yoga to Reduce Stress
One major advantage of yoga is its benefit for the mind and body. In a yoga class, not only will you be working on poses to help strengthen and stretch your muscles, but you will also spend time on mindfulness and relaxation. Your instructor should be teaching you breathing techniques that help you focus on your own life and not the world around you.
One of those breathing techniques, is called “sama vritti” or “equal breathing.” When you practice equal breathing, you match the amount of beats of your inhale with those of your exhale.
When you take deep breaths, it causes you to naturally reduce the stress hormones in your body. The best part about this breathing style is that you don’t even need to be in a yoga class to try it. Here’s how you can destress in the comfort of your home:
- Sit on the floor with your legs crossed over one another (or lie down).
- Close your eyes and breath normally for a few beats.
- Breathe in for 3-4 seconds, pause, and then breathe out for the same amount of time.
This process may feel a little odd for the first minute or so, but after getting used to the feeling of deep breaths, you should actually feel the stress melting away from your body.
If you have never tried yoga before, just one time a week may be enough to give you incredible physical and mental benefits. However, as with any other exercise, the more you do it, the more benefits you will reap. Most professionals recommend three to four times a week of regular yoga practice.
However, after just one yoga session, participants tend to feel lighter and emotionally healthier altogether. This makes adding yoga into your regular routine a bit easier as you should feel immediate relaxation.
If you can’t fit in 45-minute to 1-hour yoga classes four times a week that’s great! Take a look online for a 10-minute session just before bed or try to do it right when you wake up. A short yoga session is better than none at all!
In order to reach optimal physical health, it is important to work on your mental health as well. So, try out a class and see how you feel. We are here to cheer you on! For those looking to switch up their workout routines with something new but familiar, we also offer a more upbeat PIYO class that combines dance with pilates and yoga!