More than 40 million people suffer from anxiety in the US. As such, it is important to find a form of exercise that calms the body, while allowing the mind to recuperate. Luckily, practicing yoga is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety because it requires complete attention and focus on performing each pose.
During a yoga practice, breathing becomes increasingly important as one pushes oneself to twist farther or hold a pose longer. According to a study at the St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, MA, yoga is one of the best non-medical ways to eliminate stress and anxiety. According to the report, 25 of 35 trials focusing on the effects of yoga on stress reported a reduction in stress when practicing yoga. (1)
Here are five ways yoga is great for reducing stress and anxiety:
Yoga Makes Time
Despite yoga often being practiced in a class with others, yoga is much more about connecting with yourself then with those around you. During a yoga practice, the body is only limited by one’s mind and imagination. Even an hour of yoga each day allows for the opportunity to leave stress behind. There are no phones to answer, no customers or clients to talk to and no other issues that cause stress. Instead, practicing yoga allows for an escape into a different world, where problems can be forgotten and the focus can be in the moment.
Yoga Clears the Mind
From planning dinners to driving children around to after-school activities to finishing a project at work, being busy can be both stressful and challenging. As the day progresses, the mind begins to become cramped with all the things yet to accomplished. Often, this causes an influx of stress and can lead to overreactions about the little things. Practicing yoga reduces anxiety because it allows the mind to push away negative or stressful thoughts and focus on breathing.
Yoga Problem Solves
Have you ever had so many thoughts running through your head that it is almost impossible to get any work done? Everyone has. We have all been there before and the best solution is to grab a yoga mat and work these issues out at the studio. Not only does yoga allow the mind to rest, but also it releases more blood and oxygen to the brain giving the mind the energy necessary to solve even the most complicated of problems. (2)
Yoga Improves Overall Health and Physical Fitness
Whether it be stretching the muscles or a run on the treadmill, the body releases endorphins that promote positive and happy thoughts. Yoga is an excellent way of releasing endorphins that will boost self-esteem and help mitigate any life stresses.
Yoga Allows for Positive Reflection and Reinforcement
It’s easy to become bogged down throughout the day with things that have yet to be accomplished or with negative thoughts. Allowing a block of time everyday to practice yoga in a calm and relaxing atmosphere aids in a positive thought process about the body and mind. During yoga, one can thank oneself for all the positive things life has to offer and push oneself to try new and challenging poses.
What is the Best Yoga Pose for Reducing Anxiety?
According to the Huffington Post, one of the best poses to reduce anxiety is Eagle Pose (Garudasana).
Begin this posture by placing your right arm under your left arm and your right leg twisted behind your left leg. Bend your knee and let your arms come out in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Balance on one leg and keep your gaze steady. Switch sides and repeat. (3)
1) Aw, Li; “The Effects of Yoga on Anxiety and Stress,” St Elizabeth’s Medical Center, March, 17 2012.
2) Gregoire, Carolyn; “Yoga for Anxiety: 10 Poses To Reduce Stress and Support Mental Health,” The Huffington Post, May 19, 2013.