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Yoga for Stress Management

Updated: Apr 3

Somewhere along the line, you may have pronounced you are not the yoga type of person. Sure, you've heard the ramble about yoga for stress management, but you can barely touch your toes. So there's no way you'll stand on your head or twist your foot behind your neck like a human pretzel. And meditate? The last time you tried to lie still for three minutes, you were obsessed about what to have for dinner or the stack of bills on your desk. Not precisely Zen material.

But now that everyone seems to be acquainted with yoga's physical and psychological benefits for stress management and more, you may feel a little left out. And so you should.

Exercise is a beneficial way to relieve stress. Still, yoga is different from spinning class or weight-lifting in that it powerfully combines physical exercise with a basic philosophy of awareness and self-compassion. One of the central notions in yoga is being non-judgmental toward oneself, and others, which is an effective tool for stress relief since much of our stress comes from being hard on ourselves or disappointed, among others.

A foundational principle of yoga is that your mind and body are connected and one. Stress in one realm will affect the other and vice versa.

With disciplined yoga practice, your chronic daytime stress hormone levels drop, and your heart rate variability increases, which measures your ability to tolerate stress.

How can you combine yoga into your daily life to relieve stress?

1. Use your breath

Breath is vital to connect with your body and turn down the dial of stress. Meditation is an integral part of yoga and effectively reduces pressure.

2. Practice RAIN

Tara Brach, a psychologist and meditation teacher describes the acronym RAIN as a mindfulness tool to help you deal with stress and cope with difficult situations.

  • R: Recognize what is happening

  • A: Allow life to be just as it is

  • I: Investigate inner experience with kindness

  • N: Non-Identification—the realization or awareness that we are not defined or limited by our emotions or stories. (source)

3. Seek to be kind to yourself

Cheerful and kind emotions protect and cushion you from the burdens of stress and help you improve physical health and depression.

Learning to be hard on ourselves is effortless, so unlearning self-judgment can be challenging but worthwhile. Unfortunately, being self-compassionate doesn't come naturally for most people, so it takes concerted practice and intention daily.

4. Listen to Your Body

Yoga is a deeply personal practice; no two people can or should hold a pose precisely the same way. So it's essential to work at your level of flexibility, one that makes you feel challenged but not overwhelmed. The key is to attend to your body and push the limits gently, but don't let yourself overcome by self-importance.

Bottom Line

Yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation are wonderful ways to replenish your energy, reduce stress, and intensify your total well-being. Enjoy the affair of discovering which techniques and practices bring you the most significant benefit.


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