The simple answer to this question is, “Yes.” Yoga, as a practice, has helped millions reduce stress for thousands of years, so we know it’s not just a flash-in-the-pan exercise fad. And science backs this up.
- It helps you control your breathing. One of the main tenets of yoga involves smooth, controlled breaths. This helps you better control your body and calm your mind. When you get anxious, you unconsciously begin breathing faster, flooding your body with cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and preparing that fight-or-flight response. This in turn ratchets up your heart rate which increases stress. Conscious yoga breathing takes the body out of that “fight or flight” pattern and brings it down to more of a “rest and digest” state.
- It allows your body to stretch and flex. Think of how good a morning stretch feels; how it wakes you up and makes you feel as though you’ve just given your whole body a good shaking out. Yoga poses (or postures) help to gently increase strength and flexibility at whatever rate feels comfortable for you, and it helps loosen up the body from the hunched position too many of us experience from constant sitting at an office desk. Yoga moves also release some of the tension built up from a stressful day (or week…or month…). Plus, many regular yoga poses can be done right at your desk to loosen up a bit during a demanding day.
- It encourages meditation and mindfulness. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres talks about the quiet meditation part of yoga and suddenly having a bit of an old advertising jingle pop into her head. Joking aside, sometimes we do need to “pay for silence,” to paraphrase DeGeneres. Yoga can help the constant chatter in the brain to evaporate so we can find quiet moments and stillness, even in the middle of a hectic day. We’ve filled our days with so much noise that we can forget to “turn off” sometimes, and that constant mental noise can add to our stress. The very point of yoga centers on relaxation; practicing it can help make us more aware of the present moment, create some calm, and lead to making better judgements.
Fortunately, yoga has become so prevalent you can find a class or even an app just about anywhere. So even if it’s just ten minutes a day, look into yoga to release of some of the stress of your everyday life. Who doesn’t really want serenity now?
For more health and wellness tips, read our related blog content or reach out to our professional staffing team at Medical Professionals today.