No matter who you are or your socioeconomic situation, stress is inevitable. Without a little pressure, there would be no personal growth or achievement. Life wouldn’t be possible if there nothing to motivate you. Learning the most relaxing postures of yoga can give you a goal to achieve.
You are probably among the countless people in America who battle undue stress. While you can’t do anything about some tense situations, there are others that you can minimize or eliminate your load. Thankfully, it might be easier than you think.
Stress overload can not only wreak havoc on your mental health, but it can also compromise your physical health. Medical experts warn that chronic stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and even some forms of cancer. How can you beat the stress before it beats you?
Relax with Yoga
Maybe you can’t control a situation in your life, but you can control how you react to it. When you reduce your stress levels, it often leads to greater mental clarity and creative problem-solving. Did you know that there are postures of yoga that can offer relaxation and stress relief?
When you think of yoga, you may visualize an inaccurate stereotype of a room full of people contorting their bodies like pretzels. Yes, some yoga levels do have complex body positions, but you needn’t be a master yogi to reap its benefits.
The Genesis of Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine
The human struggle for survival has never been without stress. It’s just that the stressors have evolved over the millennia. The Hindu cultures of Ancient India were well advanced for their time in their understanding of human physiology, psychology, and medicine. Ayurvedic medicinal practices date back to approximately 5,000 years ago.
For these Ayurvedic practitioners, human health required a holistic approach of mind, body, and spirit. They believed that if any of these singular aspects were out of balance, then the whole system is at risk. Like the beliefs of the Ancient Greeks, Hindus equated spirit with breath, so mindful breathing was healthy for spiritual relaxation.
Hindu scholars estimate that yogic practice was developed about the same time of Ayurvedic medicine. Early yogic masters created a system that combined gentle stretches, postures, mindful breathing, and meditation. Yoga goes beyond just being an exercise as an expanding philosophy for holistic well-being.
How Stress Can Affect Your Body
Ancient Hindus and other early cultures may not have had the stressors of our modern world, but they had pressures. Ayurvedic medicine recognized the unbalance that stress caused and introduced postures of yoga to bring harmony back to the individuals’ triune being.
Have you noticed how your body feels when your stress levels are over the top? Medical science explains that stress triggers your brain’s primal survival mode of fight, flight, or freeze. Humans are hardwired to react to stress, whether it be to escape from a saber-toothed tiger or fight through rush hour traffic.
Your mind and body do not categorize stressors. When you are overstressed, your brain perceives a threat and starts pumping your system with adrenaline and cortisol for survival mode. However, this mode was only meant as a temporary energy boost, not as a continuous state.
The rush of adrenaline and cortisol speeds up your heart rate and breathing, necessary for fighting, fleeing, or freezing. Chronic stress keeps your body overloaded with these hormones unnecessarily, and it wears hard on every system, especially cardiac and pulmonary.
Undue stress is also bad for your mental health. The constant barrage of negativity can overwhelm your mind and skew your thought patterns and perceptions. Eventually, high-stress levels can plague you with chronic anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
Too much stress can lead to chronic exhaustion and make you prone to illness and disease. It weakens your immune system, and you may be less tolerant of harmful microbes and allergens. If chronic stress is not resolved, it may be responsible for premature death.
How the Postures of Yoga Can Lower Your Stress Levels
Ancient Hindus may not have known the precise chemical and physiological effects of chronic stress, but they saw the negative outcome of their total well-being. Master yogis taught their students how to train their bodies and minds to focus, relax, and stay in the moment.
You don’t need to be an expert in yoga positions or join a monastery to enjoy their benefits. While attending yoga classes with a certified and experienced yoga instructor is helpful, you can quickly learn and use basic postures of yoga at home.
Eastern and Western medical studies have shown positive correlations between practicing yoga and stress relief. Even if you practice just a few minutes a day, you may experience less stress. You may also notice that you feel better physically and have increased mental clarity.
Beat Chronic Stress with Basic Postures of Yoga
No, you won’t be tying your body in knots or standing on your head for hours to learn basic yoga. Like millions of other yoga students around the world, you will probably look forward to your sessions. You will enjoy how it can tone your body, strengthen your muscles, and ease your tension.
Although there are several types of yoga, most use the basic positions, called asana. They are easy to learn and don’t require a lot of effort. There are ways to modify postures of yoga if you find that it’s not comfortable for you to do, such as if you have chronic knee pain.
You don’t need any expensive equipment to get started. Just have a clear space to move and wear comfortable clothing. If you don’t have a yoga mat, simply spread a small blanket on the floor. Feel free to play soft, soothing music and light candles and incense that are conducive to meditation.
You may also enjoy practicing your postures of yoga outdoors with nature as your inspiration. Practice a few minutes each day or whenever you feel your stress levels are too high. While basic yoga poses are safe and simple, talk to your professional health provider if you have back, joint, or other health issues before starting a yoga regimen.
Here are some of the most relaxing postures of yoga:
• Corpse Pose
Aside from its macabre name, this yoga position is probably one of the easiest and most relaxing when you’re having a stressful day. You will need two yoga pillows, or blocks, that you can find inexpensively in most department stores. Place one of these foam blocks vertically tall in front of where you rest your head.
Lie flat on your back with the block in front of your head, your legs slightly apart and your feet naturally pointed up. Place one end of the other block on top of the standing block horizontally and let the other end rest on your forehead. Relax your arms at your side, palms facing up, and be aware of your breathing for 5-10 minutes.
• The Rabbit
Do your head and muscles ache from undue stress? This yoga position may relieve muscle tension and stress headache. Start on your knees with the tops of your feet, pressed gently against the mat.
As you slowly bend and lower your head to touch the mat, interlace your hands behind your back. Slowly bring your interlaced hands above your head, lift your hips slightly, and lower them to your back again. Repeat the arm lifts 3-5 times while mindfully breathing.
• Thunder Bolt & Eagle Arms
Stress can make your back feel like it’s tied in painful knots. Here’s a yoga position that’s easy to do that will benefit your back and shoulders. As you kneel on the mat, sit gently on your heels.
Now, bend your elbows with the right one into your left one and let your hands face each other. Place your right hand in front of the left with the palms together and hold the position for five seconds. Reverse your arms and breathe for another 5 seconds.
• Side Stretches
You may remember this classic yoga position from high school calisthenics. It’s beneficial for your back, neck, and shoulders. These areas are usually painful trigger points for stress.
Sit comfortably on your knees, lean toward the right, and gently slide your ride hand away from your body. As you do, lean to the side until your right ear touches your right shoulder. Continue mindfully breathing as you do the same stretch from your left side.
• Grounding Pose
The next time you feel frazzled from stress and the need to be grounded, try this pose, often called the Tree. Stand straight with your shoulders relaxed and bring your left foot up to rest on the side of your right knee, or as close as you comfortably can. Fold your hands close to your heart and feel safely grounded into the earth while the stress drains away.
Final Thoughts on These Relaxing Postures of Yoga
Once you practice these and other yoga postures to lower your stress level, you’ll probably notice positive changes. Less stress means that your body, mind, and spirit will have a better balance. You may learn how to deal with daily stress better and bring more peace to your life.