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All the excitement about yoga is more than just a current trend or fad. The physical, as well as psychological benefits of yoga for stress management, is taking America by storm even if you have to stand on your head or twist your foot around your head like a human pretzel to achieve them.
If you practice yoga regularly, it can help decrease stress and tension, increase strength, balance and flexibility, lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels. It also has strong emotional benefits due to the emphasis on breathing and interconnection of the mind, body and spirit. Frequent practice of yoga for stress management leads to better sleep, helps you to not focus on things beyond your control and live in the present. It makes a stressful event a lot easier to handle, whether it has to do with family or work.
Whatever misconceptions you have about yoga and stress management should take a back seat. While most people think you have to be flexible in order to do yoga, the reality of it is, anyone will benefit from yoga regardless of age. Even people who aren’t flexible will be able to see results. It’s perfectly suited for all levels because yoga is a practice aimed at helping you become aware of your own highly individual mind and body connection.
There are many different styles of yoga depending on your preference. Hatha yoga is one of the most gentle and flowing options and is a great choice as a starting point. Vinyasa is a bit more athletic while Iyengar concentrates on the proper alignment. However, Bikram or hot yoga is not recommended for beginners. It also doesn’t matter if you join a yoga class late because it’s not about doing it better or worse than others but about how you feel each stretch in your body. What matters most is how relaxed you allow yourself to feel.
Yoga is considered a deeply personal practice and no two people can or even should hold a pose in the exact same manner. Each person has to work at his or her own flexibility level, one that is challenging but not overwhelming. If you don’t feel good with what the instructor is telling you to do, then don’t do it.
Your body will warn you if you are about to get hurt. It is important that you listen to your body, and push the limits gently without letting yourself be overcome by your ego. Allow your body to guide you and be your friend. The goal of yoga is to synchronize your breath and movement. Inhaling and exhaling is important as you work through poses. Breathing through your nose keeps the heat in your body and the mind focused. Concentrating on your breath is the key to yoga for stress management, as it helps you to let go of thoughts and anxiety.
The easiest way to bring yourself into the present moment is by focusing on your breath. Feeling how it goes down your nose and into your body. It also helps you to let go of worrying thoughts.
As you end each yoga session, simply lie on your back with both arms at your side with eyes closed and breathing deeply. This final pose is designed for deep relaxation. Keep in mind that yoga is a slow process.
Forget about expectations and let go of competition and judgment. As yoga brings you into the present moment, you will experience joy not only in the physical and mental benefits but also in spending time in the now.
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