Life can be stressful at times. Either it is exam stress, work stress, family stress, or financial stress, life is full of stress and pressures. While stress may be a part of life, feeling it too often can lead to serious long-term health problems. It leads to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even accelerated aging.
Thus, Stress management is essential. There are numerous ways to deal with stress.
Yoga is one of the best ways to deal with your stress. Here are 11 benefits of Yoga in stress management.
1. Yoga lowers cortisol levels
Stress is a natural defense mechanism of the body. Cortisol is the main hormone involved in stress and the fight-or-flight response. This is a natural and protective response to a perceived threat or danger.
Yoga helps lower the cortisol level in the body and thus, helps to reduce stress.
Research showed that participants who used Sudarshan Kriya, a style of yoga that focuses on rhythmic breathing, experienced fewer depressive symptoms and decreased cortisol levels after two weeks.
They also exhibited lower amounts of ACTH, the hormone that stimulates cortisol production.
2. Yoga helps with deep breathing
There’s a reason people say, “take a deep breath.”
Deep breathing literally slows your sympathetic nervous system, which acts a lot like a gas pedal for your body. It is just like refreshing your computer screen when it hangs a lot. It’s the refresh button for your body.
When we’re stressed, muscle tension gradually increases, and our breathing becomes irregular. However, these changes can be counteracted by a deep breath.
Deep breathing stretches the respiratory muscles, reduces muscle tension in the body, reduces breathing irregularity, and restores oxygen and carbon dioxide levels when they become too low or high.
In this way, deep breathing techniques in Yoga lead to relief and help to cope with stressful situations.
3. Yoga helps with Mindfulness
Our minds are constantly active, racing from one thought to another, spinning possible scenarios for the future, dwelling on incidents from the past. All this mind work is tiring and stressful.
Yoga offers several techniques for taming the monkey mind. One is breathwork. Each breath is tied inextricably to the present moment; you are not breathing in the past or the future, but only right now.
Focusing on each inhale and exhale to exclude other thoughts is one way to clear the mind; it is also a basic meditation technique.
In addition, the performance of yoga poses, or asanas, also acts as a form of meditation. The poses are so physical and have to be done with such concentration that all other thoughts and worries are put to the side, giving your brain a much-needed break.
4. Yoga improves your sleep
Stress and sleep is vicious cycle. Stress can throw off your sleep, which, in turn, makes you even more stressed. Yoga for stress relief can help break the cycle.
Yoga has been proven to boost the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that governs sleep and wakefulness.
In one study, researchers found that chronic insomnia patients significantly improved the number of hours they slept each night as well as the quality of that sleep after practicing yoga for just eight weeks.
5. Yoga promotes Self-awareness
Self-awareness is the most crucial for long-term stress management, as so much of our stress comes from the way our minds turn.
Yoga can help us develop an awareness of how our mind works, and that awareness can help us live more consciously. For example, sometimes we stress over petty things because our mind puts it that way.
The most important skill to achieve in life is to control our minds. If we cannot control our mind, it’s gonna control us.
Yoga helps to develop that skill. Through self-awareness, we can control our minds and tell them to remain calm during stressful times.
6. Yoga helps to release emotional energy
Negative emotions like fear, anger, and guilt can cause stress, particularly if not expressed.
A build-up of anything creates pressure. If you bottle up such negative emotions, one day, it will burst out very badly.
Yoga helps to release those emotional energies through yoga poses naturally. Postures that release the hips and shoulders (where we commonly store emotional tension) are particularly effective.
7. Yoga helps in proper blood circulation
Stress leads to improper blood circulation. This means some organs will receive more blood than it requires, whereas some may not get any blood. This leads to improper functioning of vital organs.
Proper blood circulation is key for maintaining good health. It ensures that blood and oxygen continuously flow throughout the body, allowing every organ to function properly.
Yoga increases blood flow and hemoglobin and red blood cells, allowing for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function.
The research has proved that Yoga practices make your heart stronger and healthier. A healthy heart pumps blood effectively, leading to proper blood circulation.
8. Yoga helps to lower blood pressure
Stress is linked with hypertension or high blood pressure. High blood pressure is when the blood travels with more force than what is considered to be healthy. This can rupture the brain vessels and cause severe damage to the brain. Stress triggers hypertension which may cause stroke risking life.
Yoga combats stress by lowering blood pressure. Yoga helps lower blood pressure, improve insulin resistance, and enhance all sorts of cellular activity particularly those associated with the heart.
It helps lower the systolic blood pressure of older patients, especially those who already have blood pressure above normal.
Research studies point towards gentle yoga practices relaxing the arteries and thereby helping to reduce blood pressure. In addition, some studies have suggested that doing yoga on a sustained basis may result in people with high blood pressure getting close to normal levels within two or three months.
Yoga helps in maintaining a healthy heart and a healthy heart pumps the blood effortlessly. So, the arteries are relaxed, and you have normal blood pressure. , you feel relaxed.
9. Yoga balances your Chakras
Chakras are the blueprint for your own self-care and your yoga practice as the architect that makes that blueprint a reality in yoga philosophy.
Chakra in Sanskrit means “wheel” and refers to energy points in your body. They are thought to be spinning disks of energy that should stay “open” and aligned, as they correspond to bundles of nerves, major organs, and areas of our energetic body that affect our emotional and physical well-being.
Yoga is one of the most basic ways to balance each chakra because it creates alignment in the physical body. Balancing and stabilizing your physical body through asana (yoga posture) practice also rebalances your subtle body.
The root chakra is connected to your ancient fight-or-flight survival system. The root and the sacral chakra are associated with the adrenal system, which regulates fight-or-flight hormones like cortisol, aka “the stress hormone.
So balancing root chakra through yoga means that you are managing the stress in your life.
10. Yoga improves your cognitive skills
We feel stressed when there are certain problems in our lives, and we don’t know how to deal with them.
You are in the exam and solving your math problems. But you don’t know how to solve any of them. So, you are stressed.
Take another instance, You have an important meeting to attend tomorrow, but it’s your wife’s birthday. You can’t decide what to do. So, you are stressed.
So, stress can be dealt with by enhancing your cognitive skills such as problem-solving and decision-making skills.
The research has shown that yoga practice can have an immediate impact on the brain. Twenty young female students participated in a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health in which they did 20 minutes of yoga.
After each session, the participants were given cognitive tests to assess their cognitive abilities, such as knowledge, attention, memory, and judgment. The results revealed that women who had participated in yoga had higher cognitive scores than those who had not.
Thus, Yoga helps in developing cognitive skills, which helps to cope with stress.
11. Yoga increases gray matter in the brain.
Understandably, Yoga can relax the body, calm the mind, and soothe the soul, but it’s completely extraordinary that this daily practice can actually physically change the brain.
It is scientifically proven that daily yoga practice can have actual physiological effects. For example, one study found that regular and consistent yoga can cause gray matter concentrations to change within the brain.
For example, it was shown to thicken gray matter distribution in the hippocampus. This part of the brain is responsible for “learning and memory,” making it wholly conceivable that your capacity for attaining information also increases.
Additionally, the study indicated a diminishment in the amygdala’s cell volume. Since this part of the brain manages stress and fear, it correlates with decreased stress and anxiety.
Stress is not something we can completely shelter from, but through yoga, we can learn how to reduce the impact stressful situations have and set ourselves up for a much happier, healthier, and more chilled out future.
- Yoga lowers cortisol levels
- Yoga helps with deep breathing
- Yoga helps with Mindfulness
- Yoga improves your sleep
- Yoga promotes Self-awareness
- Yoga helps to release emotional energy
- Yoga helps in proper blood circulation
- Yoga helps to lower blood pressure
- Yoga balances your Chakras
- Yoga improves your cognitive skill
- Yoga increases gray matter in the brain