When I started to experience severe, intense anxiety and stress as part of my depression in my late teens, someone suggested that I try yoga. I thought “no, I could never do yoga, I’m the least flexible, least athletic person I know.” But despite my doubts, I tried it anyway. It turns out you can do yoga at any level, even as a complete beginner. Youtube is an amazing resource for this, so that’s where I began my journey. I quickly grew to love yoga, and it became one of my main coping strategies whenever I was stressed, feeling down, irritable, or anxious. There is a yoga practice out there for just about anything. Some of the things I love the most about yoga are listed below!
Yoga Creates a quiet place for you to “unplug” – Since I have started doing yoga, it has become sort of a sanctuary for me. Letting go of the technology and the chaos that can come with it, all of the thoughts that are spinning around in my head due to anxiety and stress, and just allowing myself to focus on the present moment is extremely beneficial. Yoga allows me to focus on the present moment, and to be mindful only of what I am doing, not of what may happen in the future, or what happened previously.
Yoga teaches relaxing breathing techniques – One of the main focuses of yoga, is mindful breathing. There are many different techniques, and they are all beneficial to your health and can decrease your stress and anxiety levels significantly. My favorite breathing technique is called “alternate nostril breathing,” or “Nadi Shodhana.”
I would recommend taking the time to find videos on different breathing techniques. Even just taking the time to be mindful of your own breathing, and breathing evenly in and out for a couple of minutes can lower your stress levels.
Yoga is an amazing stress reliever – Doing basic yoga can significantly decrease your stress levels. I tend to carry my stress in my neck and shoulder muscles. The tension builds up until my muscles are so sore that I can barely turn my head. In yoga, a main component is stretching, whether it’s full body stretches, or focusing on specific areas. Choose a practice that is best suited to your abilities and area of stress.
Yoga is healing – Yoga is an extremely healing practice. Studies have even shown that it can significantly reduce inflammation, which is common in many diseases, including depression. Regular yoga practice can reduce your chances of getting sick, it can improve your mental function and more.
Yoga promotes self-reflection through meditation – Part of a regular yoga practice is meditation. My favorite part of doing yoga is the meditation aspect, where I can just be present, not worry about the stress of my day, or what I have to get done, I can just be. I can breathe deeply and reflect on the positive things in my life rather than the negative. Guided meditation is another great stress and anxiety reliever. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, the present moment, and just allow yourself to listen to the sounds around you!
I hope you will enjoy yoga as much as I have, and it can become an outlet for you as it has been for me!