Yoga & Meditation For Natural Stress Relief
The goal of yoga is to have a union between the mind, body, and soul. It gives a sense of spiritual well-being. In ancient medicine, yoga is linked to activating the body's '7 chakras', which are known as the body's internal core energy. Yoga involves physical postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama's).
Can yoga & meditation offer natural stress relief?
Yoga & meditation is an ancient form of exercise which is being practiced for centuries. Traditionally, during ancient times yoga was practiced by people as a form of meditation. The goal of yoga is to have a union between the mind, body, and soul. It gives a sense of spiritual well-being. In ancient medicine, yoga is linked to activating the body's '7 chakras', which are known as the body's internal core energy. Yoga involves physical postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama's). It also includes a cognitive component focussing on meditation and concentration, which helps us to have better focus and control on the mind and the body. Predominantly, yoga was used to stretch the human body and increase the core strength. Later on, many other health benefits of yoga were discovered, which were improvement in the circulatory system, cardiovascular system, and digestive system.
Meditation, on the other hand, is a disciplinary process that focusses on the training of our minds to focus and redirect our thoughts. Modern times have brought an unprecedented rate of change, and an exponential increase in our work and lifestyle problems. These problems have increased stress and anxiety, which negatively affects the human mind and has become the prime cause of many diseases in humans like unexplained weight gain, thyroid problems, insomnia, etc. Yoga & meditation for stress relief both help to calm the mind and body. They are the best form of exercise to control and reduce stress and anxiety. 
Why Yoga & Meditation works for stress relief
Yoga & Meditation for Stress relief
Stress has become an integral and inevitable part of an individual's life in the present day and age. Universally, every person may have encountered stress in their life. Stress is of two forms: positive stress and negative stress. Positive stress helps us by challenging our intellectual capability and providing energy and enthusiasm to achieve our goals. On the other negative stress is the result of excessive stress builds up, which leads to the formation of toxic stress. Toxic stress results in anxiety and has an impact on the physiological and psychological state of the body. A vast number of disorders in the body are caused due to increased stress and anxiety.
Clinically, it is found that excessive stress results in the release of the hormone cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is found to affect the natural body processes negatively. Yoga and meditation involve the practice of postures and breathing exercises. Yoga postures help in the movement of the body, stretching of muscles, and strengthening of the body core. Consequently, the mind and body are relaxed and focus, which helps in decreasing the negative stress. Meditation involves clearing the mind from all the worries and being able to focus on the present. As the mind becomes free from all the worries, it can focus better on the present, which enhances the cognitive power of the brain for better problem-solving. The mind becomes more focussed and can constructively handle stress.
The mechanism behind the practice of Yoga and Meditation is to calm the mind and body. As the mind and body are calm, it helps in the relaxation of all the body processes. Stress is a result of overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, which results in the secretion of stress hormones. Yoga and meditation result in the relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system and provide natural forms of stress relief. It promotes the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system, which aids in the healing processes of the body. As a result, cognitive functions of the mind are improved and the internal energy of the body. It also boosts the body's innate immunity. The combined effect provides strength to the mind and body to overcome stress and anxiety. [2,3,4,5]
Yoga asanas for stress relief
Yoga poses for stress & anxiety relief
A study was conducted in the recent past, which examined the effects of yoga on stress and anxiety. It was concluded that ten weeks of yoga helped reduce stress and anxiety significantly. The cortisol levels of the subjects had even decreased up to normal levels. The Practice of Yoga helps the mind to clear all the worries and focus on the moment. Yoga calms the mind and provides a sensation of peace. As a result, these practices help individuals combat stress and anxiety better.
Stress demands the consumption of all of our energy. When the demand for energy increases and the body is not able to supply that amount of energy, it results in anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders. Yoga helps increase the internal energy of the body and helps cope up with the stress. As per a study, the following are some yoga postures which help relax the mind and body and are beneficial for stress & anxiety relief:
⮚ Prasarita Padottanasana
⮚ Side stretch
⮚ Savasana [6,7]
An essential principle of yoga is your mind and body are connected and one. Stress in one domain will affect the other and vice versa. A lot of people live primarily in their own mind or their own body, which creates imbalance and just a lack of awareness. For example, individuals with very analytical professions may devote a whole lot of time in their thoughts, and might not realize how much strain is stored in their body. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, yoga will help you tone and balance the relationship between your body and head. Yoga also trains your counter-stress response system called the parasympathetic nervous system. With regular yoga practice, your chronic daytime anxiety hormone levels drop, and your heart rates variability increases, and it is a measure of your ability to endure stress. This has been demonstrated to improve even after a couple of sessions of yoga.
How can you incorporate yoga into your everyday life to eliminate stress?
- Use your breath: Breath is vital to get in touch with your body and turn down the flow of stress. Begin with learning Ujjayi breath ("sea breath") and use it in every pose. Just take a deep, slow breath through your nose and exhale through your nose while constricting the back of your throat at the "ha" shape, but keep your mouth shut. Your breath should be loud enough that somebody alongside you could listen to it and ought to seem like the waves of the sea. You can also try a calming breath called Alternate Nostril Breathing. Meditation is an important part of yoga and has been demonstrated to effectively reduce anxiety. Try a brief guided meditation to unwind at the end of a stressful day:
Be kind to yourself
Kindness and positive emotions protect and cushion you from the burdens of stress and have been shown to enhance physical health and depression. It's quite simple to learn to be hard on ourselves, so unlearning that self-judgment can be hard but worthwhile. Being self-compassionate does not come naturally for many people, so it requires concerted practice and intention daily.
How can you start to remember to be kind to yourself on a daily basis? It's different for everybody. Perhaps you can give yourself time to spend some time with a close friend, let yourself spend additional time enjoying music that you generally don't let yourself love, or maybe try a loving-kindness meditation. By extending love and kindness to ourselves first and foremost, we have the ability to expand our capacity to take, forgive, and love. Positive emotion will obviously grow around you and decrease anxiety both yourself and the people around you.
Natural stress relief
Use breath, yoga poses, and meditation to help calm your body and mind. An estimated 90 percent of visits to the physician are stress-related, but just less than 3 percent of physicians talk with their patients about how to decrease stress. Yoga, meditation, and other mind-body practices train your body and mind to have the ability to deal with stress better and enhance general health and well-being. In a nationwide survey, over 85 percent of individuals who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve anxiety. Exercise is a really useful method to alleviate stress, but yoga differs from turning course or weight-lifting since it powerfully combines both physical fitness with the underlying doctrine of self-compassion and awareness. One of the primary theories in yoga is being non-judgmental toward yourself and others, which can be a powerful tool for stress relief because a lot of our stress comes from us being hard on ourselves or frustrated with other people.
Studies in yoga & meditation for natural stress
Yoga & Meditation for anxiety and stress
In a study, it was found that during meditation, the body emits an aura of positive energy around it. It helps in combating the negative energy around the body. Yoga and Meditation help in increase of positive energy inside the body. The effects are seen as an increase in positivity, self-discipline, increased pain tolerance, ability to focus better, etc. These attributes, which are developed due to practice yoga and meditation, help an individual in combating day to day stress effectively. As a result, there are fewer episodes of anxiety and mental breakdown.
In a study conducted on 1,300 individuals suffering from stress, the effects of daily meditation were studies. It was found that meditation effectively decreased the stress in the subjects. The results were highest in the case of individuals with higher levels of stress. Yoga and meditation also improved stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, insomnia, blood pressure, etc. [8,9]
Traditionally, there is enough evidence of the beneficial effects of the practice of yoga and meditation. According to many research studies, it is evident that yoga and meditation can treat 80% of all the physiological disorders from their root cause. The beneficial effects of Yoga and Meditation are uncountable. Though significant studies suggest that the union between the mind and the body due to these exercises help to calm and focus the mind & body. As a result, the performance of individuals is enhanced. Immunity and inner well being are improved, which results in a better quality of life.
1. OUR HERITAGE (UGC Care Journal) ISSN: 0474-9030 Vol-68, Special Issue-14
2. Beauchemin, J., Hutchins, T. L., & Patterson, F. (2008). Mindfulness Meditation May Lessen Anxiety, Promote Social Skills and Improve Academic Performance Among Adolescents with Learning Disabilities. Complementary Health Practice Review, 13(1), 34-45
3. Black, D. S., & Slavich, G. M. (2016, June). Mindfulness meditation & the immune system: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Retrieved July 4, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940234/