For years I have known that I was affected physically by stress. I didnâ€™t realize how affected I was mentally by it until I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The year that I lost my mother was a very stress filled year for me. I constantly had severe tension in my neck and shoulders causing me to have headaches also. I had some migraines that would send me home from work and straight to bed. Having read some about the benefits of yoga, I decided to enroll in a beginning yoga class through the area collegeâ€™s adult studies program. The cost was 48.00 for an eight week course that met 2 nights a week. I am sure the cost has gone up since then, but it is a reasonable amount to spend for something that can give you such good benefits. The only equipment needed is an exercise mat, also called a sticky mat. Those could be purchases at the class for 16.00 and were carried to and from class as the students own property. You also needed it at home for your daily practice.
The class was somewhat surprising to me because it demanded a lot from my body. Yoga correctly done requires a commitment of time each day, with no interruptions. This is not easy. You need to wear comfortable clothing and no shoes and have an area large enough for you to be able to execute various poses. That said I will tell you how I benefited from the study of yoga.
First of all I learned the proper method of breathing, through the diaphragm. This is something singers, speakers and athletes must learn to do. As a singer and someone who does weight training I have found the breathing techniques very helpful. Slow, deep breathing can bring almost immediate relief from stress. It isnâ€™t meant to be a cure however.
Secondly, I learned how to properly stretch my body using all the different muscles. The worst mistake you can make is to try to do the stretches rapidly. Slowly and for at least a minute in each position is really necessary for a proper stretch. Again this is helpful for other aspects of your life. Getting your body stretched out and limber relieves tension and helps to melt away stress. Stress causes tension in your muscles, especially the neck and shoulders which leads to other physical problems.
Thirdly, When doing yoga exercises, you learn to release all thoughts from your mind, centering on how your body is feeling as you perform the poses. You learn how to unite your mind and body.
I practiced yoga pretty religiously for about a year, even taking an intermediate class. Then I gradually did the poses less and less. I know the benefits and know it would be a good thing to start again. It is interesting when you look at the different things prescribed as stress breakers, things doctors advise you to do for physical ailments, advice we receive for any number of physical problems, and realize that they are fundamentally yoga based.
How have I applied this in my life? The deep breathing and focusing on a single thing has helped me to drive stress out of my body and relax my mind as well. The stretching has helped relieve body tension, warm up for weight training, and made me more limber. The ability to focus, or meditate if you want to call it that has been a wonderful way to avoid an anxiety attack.
***I would advise anyone to consult their own physician before starting to learn and practice yoga. If you have any limitations your physician will be able to advise you.
I have listed some websites that I have found helpful. Each has different things offered, but a basic picture of stress relief through yoga.
This site offers good video clips that give instructions both verbal and by example of different poses to relieve stress.
This site, offers a help guide for mental health problem where stress is involved as well as tips for healthy lifestyles and tips for seniors and aging with the emphasis on using yoga and Self massage and tai chi.
***I recommend reading on this site.
This site is all about Stress management and gives a good overview of how yoga is used. In Addition it offers many related sites for additional information.
This site gives alternative ways to manage stress. It stresses the use of yoga and uses many of the proper
names for yoga postures.