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How do you know if you are suffering from emotional stress and how can you prevent it?
Here are a few warning signs:
Yoga can help us cope with stress on three levels: our bodies, minds, and breath.
A physical aspect of yoga asana helps release tension in the areas that suffer most in times of stress. Think of the last time you got really stressed out. You've probably felt a lot of stiffness in your upper body, your face and especially your jaw.
In addition to using gentle postures, yoga also incorporates deep and mindful breathing. While its hard to control the tension in your body and muscles, you have the power to control your breath. Calm and deep breaths send a signal to your nervous system that you're safe, promoting both mental and physical relaxation.
Finally, yoga changes your brain, thus affecting how your mind thinks about and responds to stress. Studies show that yogis are less reactive to negative situations comparted to people who don't do yoga and thus more resilient to life's challenges.
The major physical benefit of yoga is that it decreases the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, that negatively affect your blood pressure, immunity, and metabolic functions.
On top of that, yoga practice cultivates mindfulness, guiding thoughts away from the past or future and towards the present. This ability to "stay in the present" is a hard skill to master, but essential for stress and anxiety relief.
You should understand that it's not asana practice in yoga that is so beneficial for mental health rather a calm and deep breathing paired with mindfulness.
That said, there are two postures that have the strongest effect on mental health. These include:
When your body enters a fight or flight mode, you might want to go slow and steady with your physical practice.
Choose relaxing and slow yoga, such as Yin, Iyengar or Gentle Hatha to gently nudge your nervous sytem back into parasympathetic mode.
Here are 5 gentle yoga poses that are suitable for both beginners and advanced yogis and that will help you wind down and relax your mind:
Research shows that walking can stimulate the release of chemicals in the brain known as endorphins, which help us to relax and improve our mood. Several studies have confirmed that even a shoprt walk makes us feel better and more relaxed. 5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24041180/
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