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If you’ve turned to yoga for stress management, you’re in great company. Millions of people around the world practice yoga on a daily basis. This revered practice goes back thousands of years. It’s an incredibly effective way to not only find stress relief, but also to help relax the body and clear the mind.

Here’s some information on the many benefits provided by yoga when it comes to melting away stress. You’ll not only learn how it can help you find solace in a crazy world, you’ll also learn some basic poses that are very easy to master. Hopefully, you’ll find that yoga can be a sanctuary that can bring peace of mind as well as a stronger body.

Stress Reduction: How Can Exercise Like Yoga Help To Support Relaxation And Stress Relief?

Have you ever looked in on a hatha yoga class, or watched one online or on TV? If so, the chances are good that the vast majority of students had peaceful, contented looks on their faces. Why is that the case? What is it about the practice of yoga that brings inner peace and promotes relaxation?

yoga class | Unify HealthIt appears that yoga is on a par with other beneficial methods of relieving stress, such as relaxing, meditating, spending time with friends, or, for some, exercising. All of these methods have an affect on the body’s stress response system. Yoga helps your body by relaxing your respiratory system and reducing your heart rate.1

Researchers conducting one study analyzed how yoga affected the stress response of participants, some who suffered from health issues that involved pain. According to the results, the participants’ “pain perception” levels were significantly reduced after they practiced yoga. According to the researchers, yoga can help with the regulation of stress, which may help boost the body’s response to pain.2

The exact mechanisms behind why yoga reduces stress aren’t exactly clear. But it’s so effective, some researchers even believe it has potential as a complementary form of medicine for those suffering from stress and anxiety.3

Connecting The Body And Mind – And Relieving Stress In The Process

Some people are, in a manner of speaking, “mind-focused.” They don’t realize how much tension their bodies are carrying. If you have a job that requires a great deal of analysis, you might fall into this category.

meditation yoga | Unify HealthAthletes are the opposite. They’re focused on their body, but they might not be aware of their state of mind.4

Yoga may help you find the balance between body and mind, regardless of where you might fall along the “mind-focused” vs. “body-focused” spectrum. The practice is largely built on the foundation that the body and mind are connected. If one of them suffers stress, the other will as well.5

Practice Breathing And Meditation During Your Yoga

One of the reasons yoga may help reduce stress is that it emphasizes relaxed breathing techniques, also known as pranayama.6 Breathing and meditation can have a profound effect on your stress levels. Relaxing the shoulders, neck, jaw, and throat can help you breathe in a more relaxed fashion, helping you melt away stress in the process.7

Try This Style Of Yoga For Stress Management: How Does Restorative Yoga Help Support Relaxation?

Restorative yoga is a practice that promotes relaxation with minimal physical effort. It typically involves the use of props, such as blankets, and it focuses on breathing in order to release tension. Practitioners will usually hold a few different types of asanas, or poses, for extended periods of time.8

Restorative yoga combines different yoga styles that all promote meditation, relaxing, breathing, and other methods of helping with stress management. It helps you disconnect from the hectic pace of your everyday life, and it helps bring a deeper sense of awareness of both the body and mind.9

restorative yoga | Unify HealthIn addition, restorative yoga may also help regulate the body’s stress response in a way that calms the body and soothes the mind.10

Yoga Nidra: An Incredibly Effective Meditation Technique

Yoga nidra is a form of meditation that doesn’t involve any sort of pose or physical movement. This form of meditation focuses on breathing in a way to calm and relax the body.11

You can practice yoga nidra regardless of your age or physical condition – as long as you can lie down or sit on the floor. Even better, it’s basically impossible to do it the wrong way. You can even fall asleep and still reap the benefits.12

What Poses Help The Body To Relax? Bound Angle Pose, Child’s Pose, And More

There are a lot of yoga poses with breathing exercises that you can practice in order to help with stress management. Some are more physically demanding than others, but none of these should be too taxing. Talk to a doctor to be on the safe side before trying any sort of asana.

Bound Angle Pose

bound angle pose | Unify Health

This asana helps to stretch the hips while promoting relaxation.

  • Step 1 – Sit up straight with your legs extended in front of you. Gradually exhale while slowly bending your knees. Move your heels toward your pelvis (as far as you can – don’t overdo it) while keeping your knees pointed outward. Put the soles of your feet together.
  • Step 2 – Take the thumb and first two fingers of each hand and wrap them around your big toes. Do this while keeping the edges of your feet on the floor if possible. If you can’t grab your toes, grab your ankle or shin instead.
  • Step 3 – Keep your back straight through this pose and try to release your thighbones toward the floor – but don’t force this movement. Stay in this pose for 1-5 minutes if possible.13

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

reclining bound angle pose | Unify Health

This obviously sounds a lot like the bound angle pose. But while it does help strengthen the hips, there are a few differences. Here’s how to do it.

  • Step 1 – Lie on your back (this is the “reclining” part of the reclining bound angle pose) and exhale. Bring the soles of your feet together while keeping your knees relaxed. Bring your heels toward your groin as far as you can without feeling uncomfortable.
  • Step 2 – Focus on the bottom of your spine moving toward the floor. Don’t try to straighten it – let it maintain its natural curve.
  • Step 3 – Place each palm on the last two ribs of your rib cage. Let your elbows drop toward the floor. Move your shoulders away from your ears. This will help keep your neck relaxed.
  • Step 4 – Tuck your chin slightly while keeping your spine stretched.14

Extended Puppy Pose

yoga for stress management | Unify Health

Here’s another basic pose that will have you feeling calm and relaxed. Like the others on this list, it’s really easy to do.

  • Step 1 – Get on all fours. Keep your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Curl your toes and move forward a few inches.
  • Step 2 – Slowly exhale while moving your buttocks in the direction of your heels. Do this while keeping your elbows slightly off of the ground.
  • Step 3 – Slowly drop your forehead down until it reaches your mat (or a blanket if that’s more comfortable). Relax your neck and keep your lower back slightly arched. Press down with your hands and move your hips toward your heels.
  • Step 4 – Breathe in and get the sensation of your spine getting longer. Hold this pose for between 30-60 seconds.15

Make Sure You Stay Safe

Even though these yoga poses aren’t that strenuous, you never want to engage in any sort of physical activity without first talking to your doctor. Once you get their okay, you can begin your own yoga practice and reap amazing benefits.

Learn More:
What Is Ashtanga Yoga? Here’s All You Need To Know About It
Different Types Of Yoga And Their Benefits
Why It’s Important To Keep Your Joints In Good Shape: Plus Some Great Exercises For Joint Health

Sources
1 https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
2 https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843960
4 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201512/yoga-stress-relief
5 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201512/yoga-stress-relief
6 https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/pranayama
7 https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/breathing-for-relaxation
8 https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5488/restorative-yoga
9 https://chopra.com/articles/10-benefits-of-restorative-yoga
10 https://chopra.com/articles/10-benefits-of-restorative-yoga
11 https://www.sleep.org/articles/can-yoga-help-sleep-better/
12 https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-benefits-of-yoga-nidra
13 https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/bound-angle-pose
14 https://www.yogamagazine.com/reclining-bound-angle-pose/
15 https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/extended-puppy-pose