Christian Leeby has effectively used Yoga to help himself and many students with the stresses we all face in this busy and overwhelming world. Visit him at www.miracleofyoga.com
Relieve Stress with Yoga
Ask anyone who practices Yoga and they’ll confirm, that Yoga is perhaps the best stress reliever they have. It’s common knowledge that exercise in general is good for stress, but Yoga is unique in terms of exercise because of the way it affects both the body and the mind.
All types of physical fitness help us feel better, because when you move the body you support the circulatory system. The breathing rate increases which helps bring more oxygen into the blood, and the physical movements help pump that blood throughout the tissues of the body. So all of the muscles and organs get more oxygen, and are better able to get rid of the “used stuff”, the metabolic wastes.
But Yoga is a superior type of exercise in this regard because of the way it affects the whole body. If you ride a bike, for example, the legs are constantly moving but the upper body is relatively still, and the way the legs move is always the same. Even sports like soccer, ultimate frisbee, or surfing which demand constantly shifting movements do not move the blood throughout the body as effectively as Yoga.
Most people know that Yoga involves moving the body in all sorts of directions, but they’ve never considered the effect that would have. Now that you’re thinking in terms of blood flow to the various muscles and organs of the body, it’s obvious that bending forward, and backwards, and twisting to the side, and perhaps even getting upside down will help that blood reach more nooks and crannies inside the body.
Getting the “used stuff” out of the tissues of the body and replacing that with fresh, healthy oxygenated blood is how the body heals itself. It’s also crucial for feeling good, because the immune system and endocrine system depend on healthy blood flow and when they get it you’ll have less disease and better balanced hormones. Yoga does this better than any other exercise out there, and that’s why people feel so refreshed after practicing.
The most important thing to know about Yoga is that you have to practice correctly if you’re going to get the best results, and that means understanding the proper alignment in the postures. We all have crooked bodies, and if you don’t have good instruction on how to do the poses, your body’s imbalances will rule the positions. Practicing with correct alignment actually addresses those imbalances and brings them more and more into balance.
That requires focus. As you know, when you concentrate on something your mind stops obsessing on all of the things it constantly thinks about. If you suffer from depression or anxiety or just live a normal busy life and have lots of stress, that’s huge. Yoga calms the mind, not from some kind of magical experience, but simply because it requires concentration.
Now here’s the most important point: you don’t have to “get into Yoga” to get the benefits. If you know what you’re doing and you apply yourself, you can honestly feel a lot better from even a few minutes of practice. That’s the way to start, especially if you’re under a lot of stress. The last thing anyone needs is another “thing” to schedule into a day and find the motivation for.
Start with the basics. Learn a couple Yoga poses for beginners, and make sure you learn them correctly. Then practice one or two of them here or there with no pressure to spend anymore time than you easily have. You’ll feel instantly better, which will naturally motivate you to keep it up and maybe even learn a few more.