YOGA: Stress, Life and The Benefits of Yoga
Many of you will have felt the familiar pull of life becoming busier and busier. The stress of trying to make sure you get everything done on time starts to creep in.
You will almost certainly have seen your downtime diminish as a result. This can mean your usual reserves of energy are depleted and you feeling like a slowly deflating balloon.
You are definitely not alone if you often find yourself trying to work out just how to go about regaining your mojo - especially in our world where time is our most precious commodity.
When stress builds, your sympathetic nervous system amps up.
The result can be that your heart rate might increase, your breathing may become more shallow, and if you’re chronically stressed, brain fog can sneak in to disrupt your day. In some cases, your memory can falter or your tummy might be unsettled. A sense of immobilising overwhelm can descend onto you.
However, before you feel annoyed at yourself or your biology, remind yourself that your body isn’t actually aiming to cause you harm.
The changes you experience when you’re stressed are part of your design. Originally, they were there to assist your fight or flight reaction (e.g., in case you were unexpectedly visited by the proverbial Sabre-Toothed Tiger).
There aren’t too many loose tigers loitering around the U.K these days, but your valuable lifesaving system remains biologically at the ready, just in case of emergencies.
And, although the Sabre-Toothed Tiger, may have fallen into the history books, the stressors of modern life have risen greatly.
The result is that these more constant daily stressors (work, commutes, juggling too much, financial worries etc etc) are triggering your 'emergency' system to be constantly bracing for impact.
Thankfully, Yoga can offer you significant relief.
The ancient practice of Yoga can soothe your body and mind, and help you ground yourself in a healthier, more energised yet calmer reality.
Yoga can help you to feel calmer, think more clearly, and mange stress better.
A study published in Alternative Therapies In Health and Medicine, demonstrated that a positive decline in stress levels was achieved through Yoga.
What about your body’s ‘Fight or Flight’ response? Research shows that Yoga promotes less activation “and a shift in autonomic nervous system balance”.
The Psychomatic Medicine journal also agrees, finding that your initial stress responses decrease with regular Yoga practice.
So the great news is that science really supports the stress reducing ability of regular Yoga. You can start to experience the calming, therapeutic results as soon as you begin.
Breathe in, breathe out… not only can the actual act of ‘Yogic Breathing’ instill in you a sense of calm, but research also shows it’s benefits to the health of your lungs and respiratory system.
The study, Do 12-Week Yoga Programs Influence Respiratory Function of Elderly Women? identified an improvement in pulmonary function following 12 weeks of regular Yoga.
Further research published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine revealed enhanced respiratory endurance was achievable through Yoga.
STRENGTHEN YOUR BODY AS WELL AS YOUR MIND
Yoga has long been loved for the physical gains it can bring. When it comes to your physical fitness and wellbeing, it’s fantastic! The evidence supports the experience.
Yoga is proven to significantly increase overall fitness. It is especially renowned for improving flexibility and balance, strengthening core and other muscles, and supporting cardio health and stamina.
Regular Yoga will positively alter your body, which in turns improves confidence, ability, self-image and self-belief.
What’s more, anyone can do it. Yoga is age, gender and ability neutral. It is not competitive and it can be easily tailored to suit all. What more could you ask!
BE MORE EMOTIONALLY IN TUNE
Possibly my favourite element of the Yoga is the overall emotional benefit. Yoga contributes positively (in no small way) to enhance your quality of life.
Yoga brings together your mind, body and breath through mindfulness, focus and meditation (an integral part of any good Yoga session).
The ensuing calm and clarity allow authentic and serene focus; truly existing in the moment. This supports a discovery or understanding of yourself far deeper than before.
As it turns out, research supporting this was uncovered as part of another study… somewhat serendipitously!
While focused on other information, a study published in Cochrane Libraries found those practicing Yoga regularly experienced a significant boost in their Satisfaction With Life Scale.
SLEEP MORE SOUNDLY
Yoga has been helping people to sleep soundly for centuries. It is not just the act of physical exercise in Yoga that helps with better sleep (which is a well-researched area).
Great news for those who suffer with restless nights or insomnia. It’s time to get yourself to Yoga!
Yoga can grant significant improvements in happiness and how you feel about your life (regardless of your age).
The ‘Happier.com’ blog reinforces the ‘happiness factor’ of Yoga in their blog ‘How Yoga Can Actually Make You Happier’ – definitely worth a read.
On a personal level, I’ve found regular Yoga to be transformative on a huge scale. I credit starting Yoga as an integral part of a turning point in my life.
The improvements in my life, thanks to the positive changes Yoga helped bring about, are almost immeasurable.
I am truly grateful and blessed to have Yoga as part of my life - for supporting my mental health and balance, my belief in myself and my confidence, and of course, better physical health.
So, have you discovered the power of Yoga yet?
Are you experiencing it’s benefits?
Perhaps you know far more about it than I?
Perhaps you can’t wait to try it? Just go at your own pace, don’t let fear hold you back.Yoga welcomes all!
I would love to hear about your Yoga experiences, or thoughts you have on it. Tell me more…
Feel free to comment below, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Om Shanti xx
P.S. Enjoyed our blog? You may like to take a look at our others:MEDITATION: The Top 5 Benefits and Why It Will Help YOU!