“To be a champion, you have to learn stress-handling. But you don’t have to worry if you’ve prepared mentally and physically.”

 ~Harvey Mackay

I always thought fitness activities are for a healthy and shapely body. I thought working out, walking, Yoga and pilates are only to shed that extra weight and have more youthful, glowing skin.

This perception never made me realize much about its impact on mental health. To cope with my own stress, I relied on chocolates, binge-watching Netflix, or overeating.

Once, I was in a deep state of anxiety due to some severe family crisis. I remember how stress headaches and insomnia became frequent happenings in those days. I used to cry without any reason and desperately call up random acquaintances to find a shoulder to cry on.

During one of those attempts to find peace, I called a very considerate friend of mine. She suggested a few yoga asanas, which are proven to be stressbusters. Apart from this, she asked me to meet her at our favorite bistro two weeks later and hung up.

Without thinking much, I tried that Yoga poses first thing in the morning. Guess what?

Not only my extreme anxiety subsided, but I also started feeling positive, resilient, and fell asleep quickly. There was an instant calming feeling that came after performing Yoga, which encouraged me to do it regularly.

After two weeks, I met my dear friend and told her the lunch is on me as she deserves it after such a good suggestion. Just because of her, I now knew what amazing benefits yoga has and how much of your stress can easily be released instantly by it.

Impact of Yoga on stress handling

More than 5000 years ago, the practice of Yoga originated in India. It is a combined practice of various elements, including breathing, meditation, and a variety of postures that increase fitness and mental stability.

Proven by several studies, Yoga is not only great at improving strength and flexibility, but it is also a much better stress management tool than solutions which I previously used. According to Harvard Health Publishing, Yoga modulates stress response systems by lessening perceived stress and anxiety.

Let’s crack the code of exactly how a few minutes of Yoga helps you manage stress.

Yoga alleviates depressive symptoms.

As per the results of a survey by NSDUH, up to 17.3 million US adults have faced at least one major depressive episode. This makes 7.1% of all U.S. adults!

Modern lifestyle brought with itself an increase in mental health issues among the masses. Although counseling, therapies, and medication cure, many of these issues effectively, including Yoga in the list will act as a catalyst to achieve mental wellness among depressed individuals.

Several depression-induced symptoms like insomnia, irritability, emptiness, lost appetite, and even a weak immune system can be treated if the patient regularly performs Yoga.

  • Reduction of cortisol the “stress hormone.”

When the body recognizes stress triggers, it releases cortisol hormone as a coping mechanism. Elevation in cortisol production can wreak havoc in your metabolism and immune system.

A dedicated, persistent yoga can do wonders in lowering cortisol.

As concluded by a study by the International Journal of Yoga, long term and immediate effects were recorded in patients who performed some specific yoga asanas. Their cortisol levels were decreased significantly.

Yoga treats muscle spasms caused by stress

Whatever the reasons for your stress, maybe, you may end up with tension headaches and muscle spasms, commonly known as “nervous ticks.” A variety of yoga poses can combat this frustrating effect of stress.

The smooth movements and concentrations in yoga techniques are instrumental in relieving the tightness in muscles. Reducing stress by reducing pain is a fact backed by several studies, one of which appeared in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in clinical practice.

Meditation practices help achieve mindfulness.

We often hear the word “mindfulness” and how it makes one happier ad smarter. But what exactly does it mean?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a meditation teacher, microbiologist, and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has described mindfulness as “awareness on purpose that arises when you pay attention.”

The meditation techniques in Yoga achieve the quality of focusing on the present. Your mind opens when you clear your thoughts of all the distractions.

Meditation techniques also involve visualizing a specific color, which is profoundly relaxing. This, in turn, shoos away stress as you are currently more focused on either your breathing or the color.

Breathing techniques aid in stress response

Our body responds to stress in the blink of an eye. All the positivity, motivation, and hope goes out of the window when some harsh realities engulf you.

The first thing that a person with stress deals is irregular breathing as he worries. Natural, relaxed breathing doesn’t make your heart beat faster; neither does it makes your chest feel heavier and tight. All of these signs are of agitation and stress. Practicing Yoga, in such situations, is taking a breather.

Meditation involves inhaling and exhaling slowly. This practice eases the clogged breathing passages effectively. You can try meditation the next time you are feeling anxious. It will surely relax you.

Yoga elevates GABA levels that improve mood

There is an involvement of several biological mechanisms that contribute towards relieving stress. Several of these mechanisms can be kick-started by Yoga, making it an effective stress buster.

Among these mechanisms is the production of Gamma-aminobutyric levels (Gaba), which is a neurotransmitter that controls fear and anxiety. A pilot study by PubMed states that GABA levels can increase by 27%  after a session of Yoga.

Balanced GABA level aids in improving the mood so you can imagine how apt Yoga can be if you ever get low or irritable.

Another study published by the journal of alternative and complementary medicine concluded that Yoga improves mood and anxiety by increasing levels of GABA.

Yoga triggers the production of Dopamine and Serotonin,” the happiness hormone.”

Dopamine is in charge of signal transmission between the nerve cells. Satisfying experiences like eating a comfort food release dopamine in our body. Undoubtedly Yoga is also one of those pleasurable and satisfying experiences.

Dopamine is termed as the “feel good” hormone. Its deficiency is the primary cause of various mental disorders. Therefore, increasing its production by doing Yoga regularly will keep the blues away for sure.

Serotonin is one more hormone that makes you feel happy and regulates mood. Its production is boosted when you practice meditation and other forms of Yoga.

According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, the release of serotonin aids in the treatment of depression.

The release of both of these neurotransmitters will make your stress melt away instantly.

Yoga poses that are ideal for dealing with stress

Are you feeling stressed and anxious? Just put on your boxer briefs or yoga pants along with a lightweight tank top. Settle down on your yoga mat, and try the following yoga techniques:

  • Camel pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Cobra pose
  • Triangular pose
  • Cow pose
  • Cat pose
  • Forward bend sitting pose
  • The bridge
  • Corpse pose
  • Easy pose
  • Dolphin pose