What You Didn’t Know About the Science Linking Yoga and Stress Relief

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.18.05 PM

Nearly everybody suffers from anxiety. While it’s frequency and intensity varies from person to person, it effect is universal. Chronic anxiety can take an extensive toll on the body. Anxiety often drains energy resources and keeps the body in an almost constant state of stress. Anxiety’s negative side effects are often proliferated when the body is not exercised. While general or basic exercise can serve a venue of stress relief, one exercise in particular stands out for creating this spectacular effect: yoga.

The Benefits of Yoga

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.18.19 PM
Many people have observed the benefits of yoga over time. People who practice yoga are fitter, less stressed, and have better mental health. In many cases, simply adding yoga practice–which does not place extraordinary physical demands on the person performing it–to a routine is enough to help people lose weight, feel better, and get in better shape. This gentle style of exercise has been shown to offer extraordinary benefit to people who practice it on a regular basis.

Placebo Effect Disputed

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.18.28 PM
Yoga is a naturally soothing practice. With low voices, carefully chosen positions, and the use of quiet background music, it’s easy to see why many individuals find the practice comforting. None of those things, however, create overall lower stress levels–and the practice of yoga does. It’s not just a placebo effect! Individuals who practice yoga–particularly women who are at risk for mental illness–show lower levels of cortisol when they practice yoga regularly. Pregnant women even experience lower levels of anxiety and correspondingly lower levels of postpartum depression as a result of regular yoga practice. These clinical studies prove that whatever yoga is doing, it works!

What Yoga Does
Practicing yoga naturally accomplishes several changes within the body. It:
-Reduces the heart rate
-Lowers blood pressure
-Slows the participant’s rate of breathing

All of these things naturally tame the stress response, making it easier for an individual to calm down, quiet their mind, and get back in touch with their body. Regular yoga practice allows many people to control their stress reactions, their pain responses, and even manage levels of depression and anxiety more effectively. People who practice yoga regularly are more in touch with their bodies and better able to control their reactions to stress in general.

People who practice yoga regularly can expect to experience lower levels of depression and anxiety and higher levels of satisfaction with their lives in general. When pain does occur, their response is typically easier to moderate and control, leaving them free to face life again. Regular yoga practice doesn’t just make its practitioners more flexible. It provides the mental control and stress relief necessary to make more of everyday life.

Practicing Yoga

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.18.39 PM
Yoga includes several key elements that all come together to create a stress-reducing effect: poses, breathing, and meditation. The poses ease the body into a controlled position that requires body awareness, encouraging the individual to concentrate on how the body is feeling. People who practice yoga regularly report an enhanced connection between their bodies and their minds. Controlled breathing reduces stress, moves oxygen through the body more efficiently, and keeps the body healthier. Meditation allows many people to empty their minds and reduce their stress levels naturally, rather than becoming overwhelmed by all the demands on their time and energy.

Adding yoga to your fitness routine won’t just help get your body back in shape. Reducing back and neck pain might be one well-known side effect of yoga, but if you’re more concerned with mental stress levels than you are with your physical prowess, yoga is certainly the right choice for you. The more time you spend practicing yoga, the more benefits you’ll discover. In many cases, you may find that the overall benefits of yoga are so extreme that your stress melts away, leaving you free to enjoy your lifestyle again–and that’s a benefit that anyone can appreciate.