Yoga for Stress Relief
Nobody really likes the word stress, but it does exist in most of our lives. It’s how we react to stress that determines what kind of effect it will have on the body. Many people have found peace, comfort and help with stress through yoga. The practice of yoga allows us to be present in the mind, body, and breath.
Through each asana (sitting pose), or other pose, we are required to feel grounded, present, and to not let the mind wander. Personally, it is very difficult for me to stay present because my mind wanders a lot, but I do find that yoga helps pull me back to the present.
There are many different yoga practices: Ashtanga, Vinyasa flows, Hatha yoga, Aerial and Bikram, just to name a few. Everyone is different and may search for the practice that suits them the best. As a naturopath, I am not a big fan of too much hot yoga as I see many clients suffering from a loss of electrolytes. Vigorous asana practices can burn off nervous energy and are good for overall fitness, but focusing on the poses alone is not enough for sustained calmness. It is important to slow down the breath and meditate at the same time.
Benefits from yoga can be felt from the first session. It’s a safe non-competitive, no ego environment, where everyone is there for his or her own reasons and it can be practiced anywhere including a studio, at home, and outdoors. Slowing down the breath and focusing on the sound of your own breathing can reduce stress. For it to be truly beneficial, yoga should be your practice and no one else’s. It is a time to concentrate and to bring peace to whatever is going on in your life.
Practicing Aerial Yoga
Liz, a client of mine found peace in Aerial yoga. Although she had been practicing yoga for over 20 years, she threw herself into aerial yoga after surgery for breast cancer. It was a way for her to cope with the treatment.
She says, “Aerial yoga allowed me to stop feeling the nervousness, worry, and stress of the whole experience, which was incredibly scary. I had this feeling that I was going to die every day, but the prana breathing and meditation is what helped me get away from these thoughts. I was able to get deeper into the whole practice through meditation and breathing. I started doing handstands because it is an inversion, which made me feel good quite fast. I felt powerful, strong, and confident that I would live well and be healthy. Aerial yoga, for me, became a huge confidence boost! When you feel strong and empowered, you cannot feel stressed!”
In this video, you can see Liz in her element. Aerial yoga is essentially Hatha yoga sequences done with a hammock that acts like a prop, intended to assist alignment, deepen the stretch and provide spinal decompression.
The body is partially or completely supported and aided by gravity. It is very beneficial to people with back issues and allows your spine to lengthen and decompress. It helps increase strength and flexibility and it is an excellent core workout. It increases confidence and a sense of well-being, and also improves lymphatic and circulatory systems. It is hard not to feel fantastic when you are flying!
It is not recommended during pregnancy or if you have eye or heart issues.
By Frances Michaelson
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