Yoga For Stress, Anxiety And Depression
Stress, anxiety and depression are very common emotional problems. There is no one who does not have at least one or all of these experiences at various times in their life. It becomes very problematic when the experience of it is felt with such intensity that it can seriously undermine your health.
Yoga is extraordinarily helpful with overcoming your anxiety in many ways. It offers specific techniques that can significantly decrease your symptoms in both the short and long term. This is because yoga’s focus is on paying attention to what you feel inside and helps to get beneath the surface of your anxiety, to determine what might be triggering it, such as habitual thought patterns.
The essence of yoga is the breathing and nowhere is the connection between the mind and the breath more obvious, than when we are stressed and anxious. Every time we are stressed our stomach muscles tighten, become constricted and our breathing stops altogether for periods of time, or becomes very quick and rough. When you breathe quickly you push out more carbon dioxide from you body and this puts you on edge thus causing a vicious cycle of distress, rapid breathing, and more anxiety and agitation. When you are calm and you learn to bring your awareness to your breath, breathing tends to be smooth and rhythmic. We have three times as many thoughts per minute as we have breaths, therefore it takes training to bring awareness to your thinking and without judgement come back to your breathing. For people with anxiety this is much easier to learn when we are moving our body and not just staying still in a meditative posture.
Studies on Yoga & Stress
In a study done at Penn State University breathing was compared with and without yoga postures, The overwhelming best response was seen in the group that did the postures combined with an awareness of the body breathing.
Another recent study found that people whose stress, anxiety and depression manifested mainly in mental symptoms like frequent worrying find yoga much more preferable than mindfulness meditation, whereas those whose symptoms of anxiety tend to be felt mainly in the body preferred more meditation and less yoga.
People who are anxious, stressed or depressed have the sense that they can’t take a full breath. The breath is the only automatic function in our body that we can change with conscious awareness. Bringing our awareness to our breath calms down an overactive stress response. The right type of yoga will teach you to improve your ability to inhale by focusing on your exhale. By learning to engage your stomach muscles to gently squeeze a little more air out with each exhale you will be able to take in a deeper more pleasurable breath.
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If you are a chest breather you will at first find it challenging, but if you stay with it for a few weeks you will learn to breath more from you stomach muscles in a deeper, slower and more relaxed fashion.
Finally, engaging in a regular yoga practice provides you with a sense of hope, because you discover that there is a technology you can learn to get you out of your rut. What neuroscientists have now discovered is that repeated firing of neutrons in our brain change the wiring in our brains. Therefore change your wiring and you change your mind.
Do not hesitate to contact me so I can teach you a sequence of yoga postures.