While some stress can motivate you or keep you safe, too much of it can be harmful to your health. In American culture, stress is a large part of our everyday lives: not enough money, too much debt, working long hours, no health insurance, relationship problems and a myriad of other concerns. Too much stress can cause an abundance of health problems. It can cause mental health problems like depression or anxiety. It can also cause many physical problems including diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, overeating and back pain. Practicing yoga can help you reduce your stress and learn how to better deal with stressors in everyday life.
Any type of exercise helps reduce stress, and the physical Asanas of yoga are definitely an exercise. When you’re physically active, your brain makes more endorphins that make you feel happy. This also improves mental health and self-confidence, makes you feel better overall and helps you handle daily problems with ease. Further, it helps with insomnia problems, which better prepares your body to deal with stress.
Aside from physical activity, yoga also offers meditation, guided relaxation, breathing techniques and sometimes spiritual awakening, which all help to calm your mind and body. Through these techniques, you learn how to calm and focus the mind in stressful situations. It may also change your perspective on life. Yoga may cause positive physiological reactions to combat stress. Deep breathing in yoga calms your nervous system, which can calm your mind. Yoga has also been associated with reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and these are only a couple of examples.
Yoga will also help you identify stress signals in the body. When you calm your mind, slow down and create awareness, you realize when your back and shoulders are tense, when your brow is furrowed, when you’re having trouble sleeping and when you are experiencing more headaches than usual. You learn to identify cues that your body is stressed, so you can know when you need to take a break or slow down a bit.
As you practice yoga more, you’re likely to notice a change in attitude…that you feel happier and that you’re calmer in stressful situations. Yoga can do wonders to combat stress while enabling you to think about life differently to prevent stress in the first place.