Of course you know how to breathe! Did you also know that when we are stressed or anxious we tend to breathe from our chest, rather than taking a full abdominal breath? The result is muscular tension. Breathing from the center of you abdomen, also called “diaphragmatic breathing” or “belly breathing” is the way babies naturally breathe and the way most of breathe when we are completely relaxed. In Western culture, we are told to suck our stomach in, resulting in chest breathing and we do so without realizing it. Becoming more aware of how you’re breathing and and learning “belly breathing” can kick-start the body’s relaxation response.
2. Yoga teaches you to be in the present.
The first time anyone goes to a yoga class, it’s inevitable that the focus is how to get to that “twisting, looking like a pretzel” pose. Only after you familiarize yourself with the basics, do you get to the really important part, focusing on your breath. It’s that simple. It’s not about the next pose or what’s going on before or after your yoga practice. Being fully in the present is what helps manage stress and anxiety. Anxiety makes us focus on future scenarios, solving the hypothetical. Yoga brings the present back into focus. And eases both our body and mind.
3. Yoga helps you to let go of the importance of your thoughts
Yoga teaches you the basics of meditation, focusing on your breath and observing your thoughts pass, without attaching to their meaning. It teaches you that your busy “monkey mind” can be quieter and steadier. This helps let go of worry, particularly when practiced in your daily life.
4. Yoga gets you in touch with what your body needs
It teaches you to respect the pace of your body and follow it’s particular daily needs. The poses are only secondary (they certainly look great), but they count only if you can breathe, evenly unhurriedly, at your pace. When you respect your body, you reduce tension and stress.
5. Yoga allows you to experience your emotions.
A frequent complaint I hear about why someone hasn’t tried yoga or hasn’t liked it after going a few times is “It’s so slow!” Yes, yoga can feel slow, particularly on contrast to our busy, hectic lives. If you are used to rushing and being on the go, repeatedly multi-tasking, it’s tough to slow down. It’s also why you may be feeling stressed, run down, and feel more anxiety. You can’t hide from your emotions on a yoga mat—even if you want to. And that’s what makes it so great! Like it or not, we need time to slow down and take stock of where we are at emotionally so that we can resolve difficult feeling, and lead a happier more peaceful life!
If you need help to reduce stress or any other type of anxiety, call Dr. Helen Odessky today at (847)529-8600 for a free 10-minute phone consultation.