As yoga becomes increasingly more popular, many people are turning to it as an antidote for stress and anxiety. We’ve all heard that this ancient practice helps us relax, but many don’t know exactly what the stress-reducing techniques are and how they help us.
“Yoga helps relieve mental stress and anxiety by allowing time to reconnect with the present moment and putting our racing thoughts on pause,” says Kevin Ng, yoga instructor and former Fitbit ambassador. “This perspective allows us to zoom out and see the full picture versus the tunnel vision our emotions put us in at times.”
Read on to learn about the benefits behind having a yoga practice:
How does yoga relieve stress stored in the body?
Though some stress can be beneficial and even healthy, sometimes the tension can get stored in our body and negatively disrupt nearly every system and muscle. It can reduce our immune system, cause digestive discomfort, and even increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help reduce these risks, such as reducing our stress levels by practicing yoga. “Yes, yoga absolutely does relieve physical stress in the body,” says Ng. “By bringing awareness to the breath and to the areas in the body that need attention, it gives the body an outlet to release tension and tightness in the muscles.”
What types of yoga help with relaxation?
There are about 12 different types of yoga practices and all help relieve stress. However, Ng suggests trying all different types and figuring out which one works best for you.
“Some practitioners love Yin or restorative yoga as a way to slow down,” says Ng. “I recommend trying different types to find what is the most enjoyable and sustainable for each individual, a consistent practice is most important for stress relief. I love power yoga for the dynamic movement that it provides, the practice of one breath to one movement doesn’t allow for thoughts to creep in and interfere.”
Here are two poses Ng suggests to help relieve stress quickly:
Head to knee forward bend (Janu sirasana). “This pose is great for all levels and is helpful in combating stress,” says Ng. “It provides a deep stretch along the side body, strengthens the back muscles, relieves tension in the shoulders and neck, stretches the hamstrings, and it provides a nice twist for digestion support.”
Standing back bend (anuvittasana) for stress relief. “This pose relieves tension in the neck and shoulders, opens up airways to allow for deeper breathing, and opens up the entire front side of the body,” says Ng. “This pose is available to all levels with variations from keeping hands at the low back for support, cactus the arms, or reaching the arms up to the sky.”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.