4 Reasons Why Yoga Reduces Stress

You’re in the middle of a big project at work, your child needs to be picked up from school, and your cell phone is ringing. Not to mention the fact that you need to make dinner, clean the house, and maybe just maybe find a minute for yourself. Seriously, when can we get a darn break from this total catastrophe of life?

Stress and anxiety exist in each of our lives. It’s unavoidable and part of the human experience. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to manage or reduce the impact that stressful situations have on us. Our daily responsibilities and worries don’t need to overwhelm us. And that, friends, is where yoga comes in. 

Let’s talk about four ways that yoga reduces stress and anxiety in our lives. 

4 Reasons Why Yoga Reduces Stress

Yoga balances our body – The practice of yoga actually counteracts the influence of stress, which often drains our energy and leaves us tense, tight, and tired. Instead, yoga does wonders in reducing tension – almost like a massage does. Child’s pose is, perhaps, the quintessential example of the way yoga helps us decompress. It’s often used as a resting pose or counter-pose to backbends and inversions, allowing our spinal column to relax and inducing a sense of both physical and spiritual surrender. Each time our forehead rests on the earth, it signals the body it’s time for rest, peace, and quiet.

Yoga balances our mind – In addition to treating our body with care, yoga teaches us to befriend and quiet the dancing/monkey mind. As we cultivate presence and compassion, we’re able to hone in on the actions we can take right now, in this moment. Yoga allows us to ease our frantic mind, and forget about our long to-do lists for the duration of the class. Whether we’re holding a pose or flowing through a sequence, yoga teaches us to focus.  We become as some athletes call in ‘the zone’. In other words, everything else fades away and we become one with the task at hand — i.e. yoga.

Yoga balances our nervous system – Whenever we experience stress, our nervous system begins to act up, stimulating high adrenaline and blood pressure levels. While necessary in some dangerous scenarios, this reaction can be chronic when triggered repeatedly. We use the breath as our guide in yoga. Instructors constantly remind their students (and themselves) to steady and deepen their breath, through controlled, and sometimes numbered, breath patterns. The process of learning to steady and deepen our breath allows our whole nervous system to calm down and feel peace. As yogis, we know the quickest way to the present moment is through the breath. This is a great lesson we can apply outside the studio when tough situations arise; focus on awareness of breath. Use the breath to calm yourself down and find the present moment. Even when we are facing the eye of the storm. 

Yoga helps us understand how our mind works – In my opinion, this is the most important point when it comes to long-term stress management. Most of our anxiety results from the way our minds operate to various challenges. The mind can help heal us or it can help cripple us. Yoga practice forces us into mindful awareness of the way in which we react to difficult situations. For example, when you find yourself in a tough place on your mat, do you immediately pull out of the pose? Do you push yourself harder? Do you get angry at the teacher? None of these responses are wrong or right. The point, rather, is that once you identify the way you respond to stress, you’ll be able to consciously choose a different response in the future – preparing yourself to fight back against stress and anxiety. 

As you see, yoga allows us to slow down and really tune in to our bodies, our mind, and our breath. By simply focusing on one thing, we’re able to decompress and relax. 

If you’re eager to reap these stress preventative benefits, why not try one of our gentle flow classes, which are our restorative and therapeutic classes – often meditation-based. But don’t think that you can’t learn to balance your body, mind, and nervous system in a hot flow class – because you absolutely can! 

If you’re new to the world of yoga, you could even try our NEW Wednesday night (9pm) community class for $5 to see what this whole stress-reducing practice is all about. Come on in and try a couple different classes – you totally flipping deserve it!
 

Bringing Yoga to Work 

While the time spent on your yoga mat at class several days a week certainly helps strengthen and soothe your body, it’s no match for the stress and tension you put on your body during the rest of the week. Whether you sit at a desk for hours on end, run around watching your children, or work a manual labor job, work places a lot of strain on your body and mind.

Most stress is a mental pressure we force onto our physical bodies, especially in the corporate setting where people operate furiously with their minds rather than their bodies. Simply hitting the gym after work won’t fix the problem. Instead, your body and mind need to be brought together to find a sense of peace and relaxation. Yoga is a perfect tool for transforming the workplace into a less stressful, more peaceful environment.

Bringing yoga to work with you can offer so many benefits. It lowers stress levels, gives you healthy energy shots (instead of that extra cup of coffee), and boosts your creativity. Any change in body posture can change your whole mindset.

We often get the question: “But how will I find the time to squeeze yoga into my work day?” The thought of sneaking out for a lunchtime yoga class may be bizarre, especially with how much we are each asked to do on the job. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay stagnant all day.

You surely receive at least one or two breaks during your day. Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee or checking your social media feeds, spend your time wisely. There are many effective yoga moves you can do right at your desk (or in the break room, or outside) that will not only give you a mental break but also ensure your back, arms, hips, and wrists remain in working order.

Yoga Poses You Can Do at Work

Seated Crescent Moon – Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the left, taking three deep breaths. Repeat on your right side.

Why? Our side body tends to collapse when we hunch over a computer or stack of papers. This can cause neck and shoulder discomfort. This pose brings you a taller spine, clearer head, and sharper focus.

Wrist and Finger Stretches – Extend your arms to your side and draw five to ten circles inward and outward through your wrists. Then, quickly spread your fingers and close your fists, repeating five to ten times to shake off tension. Finally, stretch one arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, using your other hand for a counterstretch.

Why? Desk work causes a buildup of tension in the muscles of your fingers, hands, and wrists. You need some extra blood flow in these areas, typically every two hours.

Chair Pigeon – While seated in your chair with both feet planted on the ground, cross your right leg over your left at a 90-degree angle (creating the figure 4). Keep your foot flexed and ankle joint strong. Maintain an equal weight distribution between your sitting bones, while keeping your back straight. Take the right hand and press it into your inner knee/thigh to open your hip a little more while also helping you to extend up through your spine. Hold for 10-15 breaths before switching sides.

Why? When we cross our legs, especially one side more than the other, we create an imbalance in the hips and lower spine. This pose helps even things out.

Neck Roll – Close your eyes, letting your chin drop to your chest. Move your head slowly in a circle while keeping your shoulders loose and relaxed.

Why? At work, we often fix our gaze for minutes or hours at a time at one point. And often our computers are below eye-level, causing our necks to experience unnecessary tension. This pose helps us stretch and remember to move more often.

Breath Work (Pranayama) – At your desk you can practice breathing exercises throughout your day especially during points of high stress. Drape your eyes closed and begin to relax your body and mind while keeping your spine extended up right. Notice your natural breathing first drawing in and out of your nose. Watching a few organic breaths mindfully will zip you into the present moment. Then when ready, begin to deepen your breath, count to a beat of 5 for the inhale and a beat of 5 for the exhale. With practice you may be able to work up to a beat of 8 for both inhale and exhale. Repeat 10 times. Voila, you have relieved some much needed tension by simply slowing down your breath, having a one-pointed focus, and clearing your mind of clutter.

So the next time you feel stressed, overworked, or brain-dead, spend five minutes practicing a few of these yoga techniques. We guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling refreshed. And your bosses will appreciate the added productivity of this new form of workday self-care.

If you’re looking to bring yoga classes into your workplace with a qualified instructor, Yoga Fever offers Corporate Yoga. Our team travels to you either on your lunch break, before or after work. Whatever is convenient, we can make it work. Call the studio for pricing or email us at info@www.yogafevergr.com