Yoga for Stress and Pain

Prolonged periods of stress can cause elevated cortisol (the primary stress hormone) which can cause things like hypertension, inflammation and metabolic abnormalities. Yoga is an effective way to calm the mind and connect with your body, while bringing in a profound sense of peace and accomplishment into your day. For thousands of years, yoga has been used to help reduce stress and joint pain. Deep breathing and stretching improves circulation and promotes a state of calm mindfulness. In recent years the yoga community has grown in leaps and bounds, alongside the growing mountain of evidence in support of this ancient art.

A study published in psychoneuroendocrinology follows a group of volunteers that did yoga 3 times per week for thirty minutes for a year. These folks had significant decreases in self reported stress and decreases in salivary cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) compared to their counterparts which practice plain old stretching in the same intervals.

Yoga classes are available at most local fitness centers or right at home with internet access. Youtube.com features many of our favorite free yoga routines (click here to see the best youtube yogis of 2018). Feeling overwhelmed skimming through types of yoga? These are the best types of yoga for stress relief.

  • Restorative yoga
    • Restorative yoga is all about mindful relaxation. Unlike other types of yoga, this practice emphasizes awareness on tension within the body and assists to release that tension (1).
  • Hatha yoga
    • Hatha Yoga is a complete blend of most yoga styles that focuses on deep stretches and deep breathing. By strengthening and stretching your supporting muscles Hatha Yoga jump starts your body’s serotonin production and leaves you with a peaceful sense of well-being (2). 
  • Yin yoga
    • Yin yoga assists to lower cortisol in the body and it also helps with collagen secretion within your body’s tissues. It is hands down the best yoga for
      • Improving stress and relieving anxiety
      • Improving joint strength and flexibility
      • Increasing blood flow and oxygen to all bodily tissue
      • Releases tension and helps to strengthen connective tissue
      • Promoting restful sleep

It is based on 3 principles:

Finding your edge– Yin yoga consists of holding poses for much longer than other types of yoga (2-3 minutes as opposed to 10-20 seconds). Sounds scary right? But it’s not! This practice is all about finding YOUR version of each pose and melting into it at your own pace and comfort.  The intensity should never exceed about a 5 on a scale of 0-10.

 

Finding stillness– this is rather challenging at first but it gets easier with more practice and eventually this stillness of the mind and body can be applicable to your daily life in stressful situations. We can’t always control the environment around us but this practice helps us to focus in on our breath and our body and things we can control. Definitely grab some props like pillows and blankets for this one to relax into the pose and take the stress off of your muscles.

 

Honoring your body– This can be applied to all types of yoga. A good teacher will not impose rigid rules on amount of time held in a pose, depth of the pose, ect. Only you know what your body needs and what your body can handle. Someone with years of experience of yoga might look very different than someone who is in their first yoga class ever and that is more than OK. Everyone starts somewhere. Pat yourself on the back for showing up today, appreciate the mobility you have in this present moment and the rest will fall into place.

 

One of the most challenging things about yoga is being relaxed and mindful. Taking a stress reducing supplement such as CBD oil may help you with the yoga mindset even before you enter the classroom or start that youtube video. Click here to read my take on CBD oils.

 

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