How Yoga Helps Reduce Anxiety and Manage Stress


Everyone suffers from mild anxiety from time to time, but chronic anxiety takes a tremendous toll on the body, draining energy resources and keeping the body in a constant state of stress. The effects of anxiety are magnified when the body is not exercised: tension in the muscles builds, breathing remains constricted most of the time, and the mind has no rest from the whirling thoughts and feelings that feed the anxiety.

Yoga helps you to access an inner strength that allows you to face the sometimes-overwhelming fears, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life. The American Yoga Association program to reduce stress in the body, breath, and mind does so by building coping skills with a small daily routine of exercise, breathing, and meditation. A few Yoga exercises practiced daily (especially if they are done just prior to meditation) help to regulate the breath and relax the body by gently releasing tension from the large muscle groups, flushing all parts of the body and brain with fresh blood, oxygen, and other nutrients, and increasing feelings of well-being. "Whole body" exercises such as the Sun Poses are particularly helpful because they encourage you to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Many exercises can be adapted so you can do them even in an office chair. Our Basic Yoga video provides a complete introduction to these exercises and contains a 30-minute exercise routine with breathing, relaxation and meditation.

The Complete Breath technique is a must for anyone who often feels "stressed out." Once learned, the Complete Breath can be used anywhere, anytime, to reduce the severity of a panic attack, to calm the mind, or to cope with a difficult situation. Learning to concentrate simply on the sound of the breath as you inhale and exhale evenly and smoothly will help you gently but effectively switch your attention from feelings of anxiety to feelings of relaxation. The Complete Breath is featured in our Basic Yoga video and all instructional books from the American Yoga Association.

Daily practice of complete relaxation and meditation is also essential - even a few minutes of meditation during your work day can make a difference. This daily training in focusing the mind on stillness will teach you how to consciously quiet your mind whenever you feel overwhelmed. Meditation puts you in touch with your inner resources; this means less dependence on medications, greater self-awareness, and a fuller, happier life.

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