Stress is an inevitable part of life. Our jobs, families and friends are constant potential sources of stress in our lives. People are constantly on the search for ways to deal with their stress. Yoga has been proven as a means of dealing with stress so in this essay I will discuss how yoga has been used to deal with stress and anxiety. By definition, Yoga is; “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation”.
I feel that it is a very calming and soothing form of exercise that also manages to improve health, flexibility and thought-processing skills. When people are stressed or suffering from anxiety, they tend to think less logically, sleep less, eat unhealthily and practice less exercise. However, dealing with one’s stress is the best idea in improving one’s lifestyle so, yoga is a practical solution for these issues.
Specifically, yoga is more than just stretching. It loosens up the tense muscles in the body (due to the vast amounts of stretching) especially (the high stress areas); the neck, the shoulders and the back.
It combines a loosening the muscles with regular deep breathing and relaxation of the mind. When practicing yoga, one must always “stay in the moment”, it is one of the key phrases of the activity. When people are stressed they constantly think of their next upcoming deadlines rather than focusing on the now. Yoga manages to relax the person by allowing you to think solely on the moment. When in a yoga pose you only think of the current pose and how it should match your breathing, thinking and balance.
You can’t think of your pose if you’re thinking of your problems therefore, the poses are designed to make you think about the moment so you can successfully accomplish them. In doing so, you become so involved in your pose that you forget about the issues which caused you stress in the first place. Also, yoga emphasizes slow deep breathing which, in itself, is a means of dealing with anxiety therefore already helping the person to relax. This means that one of the core features of yoga is already a means of solving anxiety. Breathing is the key to yoga stress management.
Instructors encourage people to focus on their breathing because it allows you to focus on something other than your stress. Listening to your own breath makes your problems seem further away because you pay more attention to your core self rather than your external issues. Every yoga class ends with a corpse pose. This pose is designed for deep relaxation. After undergoing several challenging poses that really stretch out the tense muscles, the corpse pose (or “playing dead”) allows your body to re-adjust whilst also relaxing the mind.
Whilst “playing dead” I tend to not think about anything and just flow with the music like “a pebble flowing in the river”. This is possibly the most relaxing phase of yoga because of motionlessness of the body after an intense session. This phase can be so relaxing that many people even tend to fall asleep. This is clearly a sign that yoga works because, stressed people do not sleep easily. As college students, yoga can be very useful at peak times such as; before class, before a test or before going to bed.
Before a test you can easily do some neck and shoulder rolls and relieve yourself. Before bed, if you have a lot of things on your mind, you can do a few stretches (maintaing them for 3 to 4 full breaths) and thus relax yourself enough to sleep comfortably without any impending thoughts. In conclusion, I feel that yoga is very useful for stress and anxiety relief. In my personal experience, yoga has helped me become a less stressed and thus more comfortable person because I have found an escape as a college student from the, occasionally, mundane and monotonous routine.