How Does Yoga Work Against Stress 

Michaela Bobulinski

 February 23, 2021

Photo by Brodie Vissers from BURST

During the Covid-19 pandemic, people have even more reasons to be stressed and anxious, be it about the present or the future. Everyday life is filled with uncertainties. We are working several hours in front of computers, binge-watching series in front of the TV, or playing games at a casino online on our computers. Yoga is a great way to strengthen the body and mind and let go of any worries and spend some time away from monitors and screens.

Stress shows up in different ways; it can be inner restlessness, sleep disturbances, increased pulse, the tension in the neck or shoulders, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and in the worst case, burn-out.

If you recognize one or more of these symptoms it is time to act! Yoga and meditation teach mindfulness and sharpen awareness. With regular practice, you internalize stress-relieving asanas, learn to let go, to relax, and to reduce stress through calm breathing.

The first step

Taking the first step for anything may be difficult and it could be easier to simply ignore or suppress any stress factors. As a result of that though, our mental and physical health would suffer. If you start actively facing your stressors, that can be already half the battle back to a relaxed state.

Because whoever creates awareness signals the willingness to work on oneself and opens to solutions on a conscious and unconscious level. Start by actively asking yourself what is it that stresses you at that given moment. Why are you feeling the way you do and how could you relive your stressors? What is good for you against stress and how could you incorporate that into your everyday life?

We subconsciously deal with many stress factors, which sometimes may be difficult to detect; it can work or family issues. Yoga with its effective and mostly easy to learn exercises can help you to calm the circling thoughts and to become aware of your stress factors. If yoga doesn’t help with your condition it is advisable to contact a certified medical professional.

Positive effects of yoga on health

1. Strengthening the heart and blood circulation

All yoga exercises are based on the formula of stretching, relaxing, and breathing deep. This increases blood circulation and concentration. Slow, controlled movements, correct breathing, and relaxation do not burden the heart, but rather strengthen it. The strong heart pumps more blood and improves blood flow and oxygen supply throughout the body. When we do yoga exercises properly, the accumulation of toxins in the body is prevented.

2. Reduction of bad posture and back pain

Incorrect posture can lead to permanent postural damage. Stress-related back pain makes life difficult. These can be sustainably improved through yoga. In yoga, we learn to take the correct posture in a relaxed manner and develop a better body awareness that tells us what is good for us. Through yoga, we can improve the elasticity of the ligaments, muscles, and joints and make the body flexible.

3. Regulation of hormonal balance

Many yoga postures harmonize the hormonal glands. The thyroid, for example, protects the body against toxins. It releases hormones that contribute to the body’s renewal process. If the gland is not functioning properly, it can lead to insomnia, nervousness, and tremors. This malfunction can be normalized through exercises such as shoulder stand and fish.

4. It reduces stress hormones

Regular yoga training ensures that the brain releases GABA. GABA is the messenger substance gamma-aminobutyric acid and helps to lower the excitability of the nerve cells in the brain and to reduce stress hormones. As a result, muscles relax, and feelings of fear decrease. Yoga also has a stimulating effect on the autonomic nervous system and ensures that you can relax internally. By practicing asanas regularly, you have an indirect effect on your hormonal balance and restore your inner balance. Your breathing calms down and tension and blockages in the body are released.

Yoga precautions

Yoga is considered one of the safest ways to exercise when practiced under the guidance of a trained instructor. There are although some precautions to be taken in case any of the following apply to you: osteoporosis, problems balancing, too high or low blood pressure, pregnancy, eye conditions such as glaucoma, or a herniated disc. If you have anything from the above, you are advised to discuss it with a medical professional before starting any form of exercise. Yoga is usually safe for pregnant women, and they are often also advised to practice it, but some poses may cause problems. If you are a beginner, it would be a great experience to take a beginner’s course and learn the basics from an expert.

A short exercise for the office

A great exercise to try out at your office would be the breathing break. Sit up straight in your office chair. Place your left hand loosely on top of your thigh. Bend your right arm and place the hand’s thumb on your right nostril and the little finger on the left nostril. You may close your eyes if you want to. Now first close the left nostril, hold your breath briefly and breathe in and out completely from the right nostril. Do this a few times and then repeat with the other nostril. Doing this exercise for 1-2 minutes will help you feel more relaxed and concentrate better.

Closing word

Yoga is very diverse and continues to develop even today. You can take your time discovering all different types and try to find the right one for you. If you manage to integrate yoga into your everyday life and practice it regularly, you will definitely feel the quick, relaxing effect on your head, mind, body, and soul!

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