Stress seems to be the one thing uniting everyone in this day and age. However, if there is one way we can combat the waves of anxiety, it’s through the practice of yoga.
Yoga has multiple benefits, such as improving health, aiding with blood circulation, enabling better focus, increasing the quality of sleep, and helping people become more peaceful in their day-to-day lives.
Yoga, when broken down to its most simple form, is all about breathing, and feeling. Through this breathing and feeling, we learn to control our reactions to events, and people. Yoga postures combined with deep breathing facilitate deep relaxation and help in combating stress.
When practised properly, yoga can make you a lot happier. By practising yoga, you learn to listen to your body and honour it and you automatically will be happier. When you practice yoga, you raise your levels of serotonin, oxytocin and GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid that functions as the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system and helps reduce neuronal excitability by inhibiting nerve transmission in your body). Feeling ‘happy’ has everything to do with the chemical reactions in your body.
Practising yoga reduces your blood pressure, and cortisol, the stress hormone. Deep and focused breathing encourages positive emotion. It is a powerful stress management technique, too. Yoga and deep breathing reduce anxiety. Here are some yoga poses that help de-stress:
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Start this pose on all fours. Make sure your wrists are underneath your shoulders and your knees are in line with your hips. Keep your spine neutral and your weight balanced evenly across your body.
Inhale as you look up and let your stomach curve toward the floor. Lift your eyes, chin, and chest up as you stretch.
Exhale, tucking your chin into your chest, and draw your navel toward your spine. Round your spine toward the ceiling.
Move slowly between the two for 1 minute.
Benefits: This asana helps improve posture and balance and is ideal for those who suffer from back pain. The benefits of this synchronised breath movement will also help you relax and ease some of the day’s stress.
(Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Lie on your back.
Bend both knees and position your feet hip-width apart with your knees in line with your ankles.
Put your arms flat on the floor with your palms against the ground and spread your fingers.
Lift your pelvic region off the ground, allowing your torso to follow, but keep your shoulders and head on the floor.
Hold the pose for 5 seconds.
Benefits: This asana calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression. It also stimulates the abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid gland.
Squeeze your face and hold it for 10 sec keeping the breath normal and release. No matter how much tension you hold in your face and neck, facial yoga teaches you to become more aware of those muscles so you can relax them within few seconds and feel the tightness.
Benefits: Squeeze pose is believed to relieve tension and stress. Calms your mind and stimulates your nervous system and brain.
The practise of this yoga asana will allow you to gently ease your mental and physical pace by focusing on mindful breathing, simple meditation, and physical postures. This will help to reduce stress, and at the same time, assist with lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve your respiratory function, and heart rate.
(The author is an international yogi, author & face yoga expert.)