It’s no secret that Yoga is wriggling with health benefits; both mental and physical, but why? And how can we incorporate yoga into our everyday lives to benefit our mental health and keep anxiety at bay in times of heightened stress and uncertainty around the globe?
Without getting too heavy on the biology and neurology chat, the primary reason that yoga has such positive effects on our stress levels is because it’s linked to breathing. Our breathing, or more importantly, slow and mindful breathing sends a powerful message to the ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) that life is peachy, ipso facto it can go about its job efficiently. The Autonomic Nervous System is the body’s central control system that helps to regulate heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal (just casually pretty much everything). Importantly, it plays an unconscious role in our critical functioning which means that nothing external can help it behave well, that is, except breathing.
Yoga is the one of the simplest way to learn better, long term breathing habits that you can take into daily life to help combat stress and anxiety quickly. Meditation and yoga practice of all types promote deep and mindful breathing, and over time will become a blueprint for your reflexive behaviour when it comes to stress management.
Here’s 3 yoga poses to try today for instant stress busting:
Child’s pose – Balasana
Child’s pose will automatically induce calm because of the form that it takes (head down, arms stretched backwards). It allows the body to sink into a meditative state with ease and instantly quiets the mind. The physicality of the pose means that you are shielding yourself from the rest of the world and helping you to return to focus.
Inversions – Sarvangasana
Inversions like a headstand or shoulder stand are rumoured to be the quickest yoga pose to boost positivity. Not only do they instantaneously alter blood flow and circulation, boosting the level of oxygen getting to the brain but they stimulate the metabolism and streamline focus.
Eagle post – Garudasana
Eagle pose is hard! It also takes a lot of concentration and focus to really nail the balance required for it. Herein lies the point though. With a mind astutely attuned to staying balanced, upright, or elegant in the pose, other thoughts are quickly eradicated which makes way for a new level of mental harmony. Additionally, Garudasana also opens and stretches any tightness in the shoulders.
Photo credit: Gigi Hadid for Reebok