The aim of Yoga, as it is most commonly practised (i.e. a physical Yoga practise, what is generally termed as 'Hatha Yoga' and from which all other schools of physical practises of yoga stem, e.g. Ashtanga and Iyengar) is to develop and sustain a healthy body and calm mind. So stress relief is inherently part of why we practise Hatha yoga - and it's effect on the emotional and mental body is one of the key ways in which yoga differs to other forms of physical exercise.
How Hatha yoga soothes the nervous system, bringing benefits to body and mind, are elaborated upon nicely by fellow expert yoga practitioners who've already commented here (see Catherine's and Kirsty's responses in particular). Adding to their comments, from personal and professional (i.e. feedback from my students') experience, I would add that:
-a regular Hatha yoga practise that both challenges you, but also gives you 'space' to breathe into poses and 'just be' can bring immediate relief from stress
-if you have been experiencing symptoms of stress for a long while, and/or if the stress relates to a deeper concern or anxiety, then Hatha yoga should be part of a broader holistic
lifestyle plan not your sole tool for restoring a sense of peace
I consistently meet new students who've been practising yoga for years; they are often super fit and have great self-awareness, but scratch the surface and tensions/stress soon become evident. Ultimately, the mentality you bring to how you practise; not how 'fit' or bendy you are is the most important thing. If you bring the same mind-set to yoga as you do to work, tasks, relationships that end up stressing you out, the result of your yoga will be the same.
The key thing here is to find a yoga teacher who can help you access a mindful (psychologically skillful) practise.
Namaste to you,
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Absolutely - I started doing yoga due to the fact I couldn't breath properly which was down to stress. When you are stressed you tend to only use a small part of your lungs which inhibits the amount of oxygen you take in which in turn affects your mental and physical state. I found that by doing yoga I noticed how much better I could breath and learnt how to actually breath properly. Our tendency is to breath using only a part of our lungs and yoga pranayama and asana will teach you how to use more of it.
We all have stress in our lives these days and yoga will give you techniques to deal with those stressful times.
Dealing with stress is only one of the yogic gems awaiting you once you start your practice though - there is much more to it as well - all of great benefit.
Yes, yoga can definitely help you to find a calmer, quiter space inside, which may help you to deal with stress better. Typically, we wind ourselves up. Our minds race around, reliving and reviving stressful moments and situations. A good yoga teacher will help you to recognise these patterns and to replace them with a more healthy and balanced approach.
Working with the body, moving into asanas, is the first step. This will gradually ease out any physical tensions you have built up in your muscles, as a result of any emotional or physical trauma you have experienced through your life. Gradually, as the muscles release, they let go their grip of the nervous system. This in turn helps to change the way you think and react psychologically.
Try a class that has a balance of gentle movements combined with some time spent on simple breathing exercises or meditation. Hatha yoga is a good place to start, and my recommendation would always be to go to a specialised yoga centre, rather than joining a class at a gym. Although you may be lucky, most gyms simply aren't equipped to teach yoga adequately. They very seldom have blankets (to keep you warm during savasana - the quiet resting period at the end of the class), or facilities to dim the lights or burn incense, all of which help to soothe the system, and asist in finding deep peace and inner quiet.
I hope this helps, but please do get in touch if you have other questions. Best of luck.
Thanks for your message.
Yes, yoga is a fantastic way to relieve mental, physical and emotional stress!
Yoga nidra (deep relaxation) is especially good for releasing stress as well as yoga postures, yogic breathing, meditation and a healthy diet.
Try incorporating theses 5 yogic principle into your daily life or join a regular yoga class and notice any differences in your life as a whole.
If you would like more info please get in touch.