Friday, February 10, 2017

Yoga & Stress Relief - Part 4 of 4

If you are just joining in, you may want to take a few minutes to review parts one, two and three of my four-part series on managing stress.

Quickly recapping, this series started when I unveiled my stress management workshop for a company I work with. Word spread quickly and I ended up conducting twenty-five (25) of these 30-minutes workshops throughout the company.

The feedback was so great I thought I would share it here with you in a four-part series.

Yoga, as opposed to meditation and mindfulness, can take a bit more planning and generally a designated time and space. If you are one of few people I’ve known who are willing to move into child’s pose during a stressful meeting, however, have at it!

Some see yoga as a religion, which is not accurate. Yoga is a practical aid, an ancient art based on the harmonizing of the mind, body and spirit. The goal is self-development and self-realization. Studies have shown that practicing yoga has a direct impact on improving and maintaining physical and emotional health.

Yoga triggers the production of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical made in the brain. The main role of GABA is to have a calming effect on you and your nervous system. Its function is to shut off the brain and it does this by blocking brain signals.

An increase in GABA levels is generally tied to a decrease in cortisol. This process, which can be triggered by a consistent yoga practice, is similar to that experienced by Zoloft, Prozac and other anti-depressants prescribed by doctors to treat mood and anxiety disorders.

In addition to lower stress levels and higher GABA levels, yoga practice has been linked to:
  • lower diastolic blood pressure,
  • reduced intensity and frequency of headaches,
  • greater impulse control,
  • greater physical strength, stamina and flexibility,
  • improved blood circulation,
  • enhanced mental clarity,
  • peace of mind and a more positive outlook to life.
If you are interested in yoga but not sure which class might be right for you, look for these key words: 
  • Yin
  • Hatha
  • Restorative
  • Gentle
  • Renew
  • Beginner
  • Fundamentals
For at home practice, Yoga Journal suggests these 16 Yoga Poses to Find Instant Calm and Peace. Let me know if you try them!

As I mentioned the first week the key difference between meditation, mindfulness and yoga and traditional stress relief methods (reading, watching TV, or cocktails with a good friend) is that meditation, yoga and mindfulness encourage the mind-body connection.

Don't believe me? In a recent study  scientists found that brain GABA levels increased increase by 27% after a 60-minute yoga session compared to no increase after a 60-minute reading session.

Instead of focusing on someone else’s story these methods shift your focus inward, eliciting a relaxation response and teaching your body what it feels like to release any stress-triggered tension.

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