Yoga for Anxiety and Stress
The mental health benefits of a regular Yoga practice
by Nina Rashid
Yoga is often practised for its physical benefits. It helps you improve flexibility, builds muscle strength, increases joint mobility and balance, to mention a few. Did you know that foremost, yoga is a science of wellness that strives for physical well being and the union of mind and body?
What exactly is stress?
Most of us live quite fast paced, stressful lives. We are always on the go, putting a lot of pressure and expectations on ourselves and others. Work deadlines, family pressure, keeping up on social media, are just a few of the stress factors in our lives.
Stress is motivating when it inspires us to meet a deadline, do our best, to run away from danger! But stress is everywhere these days. No one is immune – stress comes in all shapes, size and circumstances. It can cause havoc within our bodies; fatigue, pain, feeling nervous, sleeplessness, racing thoughts, anger. It also robs us of our peace of mind! It either causes or contributes to the vast majority of illnesses and can take the pleasure and fun out of life.
How can yoga help with stress?
Dating back over 5000 years, yoga is considered the oldest defined practice of self-development by many. The various styles of yoga are all beneficial in dealing with the stress of our modern, fast paced world. ALL yoga is good – some of us find a heated class releases stress, a very dynamic vinyasa works for others, perhaps a more slow paced mindful vinyasa or an even slower yin or restorative class, guided meditation and yoga nidra. Finding a balance and something that works for each individual is important.
Yoga and stress relief – is it scientifically proven?
Several studies including one from Harvard medical university, prove that yoga helps to balance us through stress. “Your brain on Yoga” written by Sat Singh Khlasa, MD, published by Harvard University, is a good read. I met the author at a conference on teen yoga in London a few years ago. He presents compelling scientific evidence about how yoga and meditation can change our brains and our lives by reducing stress, strengthening parts of the brain responsible for memory and providing a sense of peace and calm.
These studies suggest that yoga could slow down the harmful effects of chronic stress, at both the psychological and physical levels. It also indicates the benefits of a yoga practice that incorporates more than just poses, by including yogic breathing, meditation and deep relaxation.
How do I apply this to modern life?
In this busy world we live in, it is very hard to avoid stress. However, yoga could be a tool we can use to learn not to react to stressful situations, but to step back and respond in a healthy way. Finding a balance in your yoga practice is also important. Try the various styles at Sadhana yoga and wellbeing and you may find your inner peace.
Nina Rashid began her yoga journey over 20 years ago in Kerala, India. She is trained in several different styles including Bikram hot yoga, restorative, children’s yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, dynamic and mindfulness. Nina is passionate about making yoga accessible to everyone and is an Accessible Yoga Teacher and Ambassador in the UK. Her guided meditations are available on the Insight Timer app and Soundcloud. She also volunteers for 2 major cancer charities, NHS Bromley health and Age Uk teaching trauma recovery, meditation and yoga nidra. Find out more about Nina and when she teaches at Sadhana by visiting her profile here!
Find out more by visiting Nina’s website: yogablisswithnina.com