Yoga is a low-impact type of exercise that helps counteract the effects of stress. Yoga has Indian philosophical origins that combine controlled breathing, physical poses and meditation, or relaxation, to help relieve stress and anxiety. This improves overall physical, emotional and mental health. It operates to strengthen the relationship between mind and body.
Scientific studies have even been conducted to observe the physical, mental, and emotional effects of this meditative practice. Here are five ways in which incorporating yoga into our wellness routine can benefit us.
Five Ways Yoga Improves Quality of Life
- Yoga helps regulate breathing. Focusing on breathing helps reduce the effects of anxiety. Anxiety causes us to breathe more shallowly and altogether irregularly. The deep breathing used in yoga helps our heart rate, calms the nervous system and promotes the flow of oxygen to muscles.
- Yoga reduces tension. When we are stressed, our bodies tend to tighten up and constrict. The stretches performed in yoga relieve built-up tension and help relax our muscles. Yoga also helps increase our awareness of our bodies, which can help us identify and let go of tension.
- Yoga improves heart health. One study evaluated the effect of yoga on 122 candidates with hypertension (high blood pressure). The test group was assigned to yoga training, whereas the control group was given information about controlling blood pressure. After eight weeks, most of the patients in the test group saw improvement in their blood pressure. By the end of the study, 50% of those in the test group were able to eliminate one or more of their blood pressure medications.
- Yoga helps us control our stress response. It can keep us from overreacting to the constant stressors in our lives. A calmer reaction to stress interrupts the cycle of anxiety and depression that can trap us, as discussed in our previous article. This helps prevent a lot of the physiological manifestations of stress, leading to overall improved health.
- Yoga improves sleep. One study showed the effects of yoga on participants with primary insomnia, which develops on its own, and secondary insomnia, which develops as a result of another health condition. After eight weeks of incorporating a daily yoga routine into their lives, participants reported better sleep efficiency and total sleep time. There was a also a decrease in the amount of time spent trying to fall asleep.
There are many reasons to incorporate yoga into your wellness routine. It helps with stress in a way that external solutions – like food and wine – do not. Not only does it relieve symptoms of stress, but it helps make us more resilient in the face of stressful situations.
If you’re skeptical about yoga, check out one of the various simple routines available online. Here is one article that provides steps, instructions, and pictures for five simple yoga poses that help with stress and tension.