Stress is an inevitable part of life that everybody deals with in their own way. In order to relax you might prefer to go for a walk, read a book, or breathe heavily into a brown paper bag, but either way stress can take a heavy toll on your body and mind. Next time your daily stressors are just too much to handle, don’t rip your hair out; yoga is an easy and beneficial alternative to relieve your stress.
Yoga is an ancient practice which originated in India over 3,000 years ago. It combines exercise, breathing techniques, and the union of mind and body to produce mental and physical harmony.
The goal of yoga is to tone the body, clear the mind, create energy, and reach a state of relaxation. While most of us think of yoga as sitting with our eyes closed and making an “ommm” noise, there’s a little bit more to it. Your basic breathing technique is as follows:
- Sit comfortably in a quiet room in Lotus position (knees folded outward and feet tucked under the knees) and close your eyes.
- Breathe in through the mouth slowly and count to 6. Hold your breath and count to 9, and then exhale through the mouth while counting to 3.
- Repeat 3 times, trying to fill your lungs with as much air as possible.
- Breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose with the same counts 3 times.
- Try holding one nostril closed while doing the procedure 3 times, and then the other nostril closed for 3 times.
Types of Yoga:
There are several forms of yoga, all which teach methods of concentration and contemplation to control the mind, subdue the consciousness, and bring the physical body under control of the will. Different forms of yoga include:
Dhyana yoga: a method of concentration. It is a purely mental discipline leading to trance states.
Karma yoga: is concerned with selfless work and good deeds. Charitable acts are accomplished by individuals who follow this path.
Kriya yoga: is concerned with religious action and ritualism.
Kundalini yoga: theorizes potential energy coiled up in the nervous system, which can be released with the recitation of sacred mantras (sounds).
Bhakti yoga: is a way of devotion of love and faith directed to God. It uses chants and worship.
Hatha yoga: is the path of health using exercise as a means to mental and physical harmony.
During meditation, many people also like to use a mandala: a visualization of an object. For instance, you could visualize a budding rose or crashing waves to help you keep out intruding thoughts. No matter the form or origin, yoga always involves at least two phases: to quiet the body, and then to quiet the mind.
Yoga has significant effects on your mental state, but it also greatly alters your physical state. Yoga’s effects on the body include:
- Sound sleep
- Reduced cortisol levels
- Improvement of medical conditions
- Allergy and asthma symptom relief
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered heart rate
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Slowed aging process
- Smoking cessation help
After engaging in yoga, many find that they feel relaxed, energized, alert, and calm. So next time you’re having a stressful day, remember you don’t need a private beach and you certainly don’t need a brown paper bag. Let your meditation take you to a place far away without even leaving your office or home. Find a quiet place to yourself and let the beauty of yoga work its magic.