Role of YOGA in STRESS Management and RELAXATION

In today's world stress is a part of life. How to relieve stress and anxiety? What are the causes and symptoms of stress? Is there a simple way to get rid of stress, without having to pop pills? That's right, you are asking all the right questions and we have the answers to all your questions!

CAUSES OF STRESS: 
Let's first talk about a few causes and symptoms of stress - while causes could be anything from financial trouble to pressure at work to health problems, the symptoms may be inability to sleep, poor performance at work, addictions to smoke and drink, excessive eating and lack of energy. And does this affect your body? Yes it does! Stress affects your heart, immune system, skin, lungs, digestive tract and most importantly your brain.
Role of YOGA in STRESS Management and RELAXATION

ROLE OF YOGA IN STRESS MANAGEMENT AND RELAXATION

Well, now that you know the causes as well as symptoms of stress, what can we do about it? Practicing yoga is one guaranteed way of relieving stress.  Maintaining a yoga practice can be a great way to reduce stress, stay in shape and calm the mind.

Yoga to manage stress, anxiety and depression may be divided into to parts.
PART-I: Yoga Asana (or Yoga Pose) – for stress, depression and anxiety.
PART-II:  Pranayama (or Breathing Exercise) – to relax and claim down. 

YOGA ASANA (OR YOGA POSE) – FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

Here are 10 Asanas namely Padam Asana, Sukhasana (Easy Pose), Sava Asana (Corpse Posture), Makr Asana (The Crocodile Pose), Sarvang Asana, Shalabhasana (Locust Pose), Vakrasana (Half Spinal Twist Pose), Dandasana (Staff Pose), Gomukhasana (Cow Face), Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose), that will help you relieve stress and anxiety and get through the day with ease.       

1.      Padam Asana (Lotus Position) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Padam asana
Padmasana or Lotus Position is a cross-legged sitting asana originating in meditative practices of ancient India, in which the feet are placed on the opposing thighs. It is an established asana, commonly used for meditation, in the Yoga, Jain and Buddhist contemplative traditions. The asana is said to resemble a lotus, to encourage breathing properly through associated meditative practice, and to foster physical stability. Lotus Pose, or Padmasana, is an extremely powerful pose, especially for women. It is a wonderful example of a pose that connects the mind, body, and spirit — one of the ultimate goals of yoga.

Benefits: Alleviate Stress-This particular pose relaxes the mind and alleviates pent up stress and tension. The regulated breathing which accompanies this yoga pose helps to free our mind of negative emotions. Performing padmasana on a regular basis can also lower the production of stress hormones.
Fight Insomnia - Padmasana is simple, yet highly effective yoga posture which helps to fight insomnia. This particular yoga pose relaxes the mind and alleviates all kinds of stress and tension. The deep breathing which accompanies lotus pose further enhances the sense of mental and emotional wellbeing. This in turn can help people to get a restful night sleep.
                                                                                                                    
2.      Sukhasana (Easy Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Sukhasana for stress
Sit comfortably on a yoga mat or a carpet. Bend both knees and sit cross legged. Waist, back and neck should be in a straight line. Keep your hands on your knees in gyana mudra (Fix the index finger with tip of thumb keeping other three fingers straight). Breathe rhythmically. For meditation, it is important that the spine be straight and aligned with the head and neck. It may be easier to sit longer in sukhasana for meditation without slumping forward.

Benefits: This pose soothes and relaxes your mind, thereby alleviating high levels of stress and anxiety. Sukhasana is also good for relieving hip tension. Sukhasana will lengthen your spine and open your hips. It will help you calm down and eliminate anxiety. It will also reduce mental and physical exhaustion.

3.      Savasana (Corpse Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Savasana for stress


Savasana is the best antidote to stress. Savasana is an asana usually done at the end of a yoga practice. To perform Shavasana, lie flat on their backs with the heels spread as wide as the yoga mat and the arms a few inches away from the body, palms facing upwards, preferably with no props. The eyes are closed and the breath is deep with the use of pranayama. The whole body is relaxed on the floor with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath. During Shavasana, all parts of the body are scanned for muscular tension of any kind. Any muscular tension the body finds is consciously released as it is found. All control of the breath, the mind, and the body is then released for the duration of the asana. Shavasana is typically practiced for 5–10 minutes at the end of an asana practice, but can be practiced for 20–30 minutes. Savasana is considered the easiest pose to perform and the most difficult to master.

Benefits: In Savasana, sensory stimulation and external distractions are minimized to help the body completely relax. With a grounded body, mental energy can be channeled inward and the mind can start to explore the body from the inside. Practicing Savasana may increase the ability to notice things like the body’s breathing and heartbeat as well as form calmer and more relaxed feeling states. Savasana is known as a great way to calm the mind, reduce stress, depression and fatigue, lower blood pressure, relieve headache pain, and improve sleep.


4.      Makar Asana (The Crocodile Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Makarasana for stress
To perform Makar asana take prone position and fold the arms in front of the head and place the head either on the arms or the floor, turning the head to the side if it is comfortable. Spread the legs apart so the heels touch the corners of your yoga mat, with the toes pointing outwards, heels in. Breathe normally while you maintain the asana.

Benefits: Makar Asana helps in relaxation of entire nervous system, body and mind. This pose gives extra relaxation to the back region. Relieves stress on the body and mind. Removes disturbing thoughts and tensions. Relaxes the muscles which lead to a decrease in the demand for blood and oxygen, giving the circulatory and respiratory systems a break. Beneficial for all stress related ailments. Relieves stress and fatigue. Decreases blood pressure.
This is relaxation asana and a prone version of Savasana.

5.      Sharvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Savangasana for stressSharvangasana is performed by lying on the back with the hands under the mid-back, the legs and lower body are lifted so that the weight of the body is supported on the head, neck, shoulders and upper arms. The gaze is towards the toes and the sagittal and transverse line of the head is perpendicular with the mid-sagittal and mid-frontal line of the body.

Benefits: Sharvangasana has role for the overall functioning of the body. It is known as 'Mother of All Asanas', which indicates its benefits and significance. It brings peace and harmony to the body thus helpful in the management of lifestyle related disorders such as stress, anxiety, depression, etc.

6.      Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Shalabhasana for stress
Lie on your belly and put your hands below your thighs while forehead and chin are resting on the floor. Now try to raise your left leg straight up to 10 inches. Do not bend your knees. Try doing the same thing with your right leg. At the final stage, do this with both your legs.

Benefits: This pose stimulates your abdominal muscles and improves your overall body posture which is one of the main benefits of Salabhasana. It also helps to relieve stress and anxiety by calming your mind. Salabhasana improves the balance of your body, rejuvenates it and increases its endurance

7.   Vakrasana (Half Spinal Twist Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
vakrasana for stress
Bend the left leg in the knee and place its heel near the thigh. Keep the sole of the left foot flat on the floor and the thigh and knee touching the chest. Place the left hand in front of the right hand in such a way that the fingers of both the palms face each other and the palms remain flat on the floor. Now turn the neck and the trunk to the right, twisting the spine and look back above the shoulder. Continue smooth breathing.

Benefits: Vakrasana is a stress relieving and obesity controlling yoga and helps to keep diabetes in control.

8.      Danda Kriya or Dandasana (Staff Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:

To achieve this asana, begin in a seated position with the legs extended forward. The palms or the fingertips (if the palms don't reach) should be rested on either side of the body. The upper-body should be extending upward through the crown of the head, and the back should be completely perpendicular to the ground (as though sitting against a wall). This is a basic and simple stabilizing pose that is the foundation for all seated asanas.

Benefits: Danda Kriya holds real benefits for your body and mind. When performed correctly, Dandasana strengthens all major core muscles, Improves posture, and Increases stamina.

9.      Gomukhasana (Cow Face) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Gomukhasana for stress
Gomukhasana takes its name from the Sanskrit words 'Go', meaning cow, 'Mukha', meaning face, and 'Asana', meaning pose. To perform this pose, slide your knees together in front of you, stacking the right knee directly on the top of left. When aligned sit back in between your feet which should be equidistant from your hips. Support your weight evenly amongst your sitting bones.

Benefits: Gomukhasana is an extraordinary stance for unwinding and uprooting depression, tension or stress. Gomukhasana is also restorative in sexual issues, stiff back or shoulders, backaches, diabetes and hypertension. 
                          
10. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose) FOR STRESS, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
Janusirasana for stress
Janu Sirsasana pose is said to be a part of the Ashtanga yoga and is also practiced as a seated yoga pose. In a seated position, one leg is extended with toes pointing upward, and the other leg is bent with knee pointing away from the straight leg and the sole of the foot in by the groin. The torso turns and folds over the extended leg. Janu Sirsasana is a spinal twist, as well as a forward fold. This pose free up constriction in different parts of the back and to loosen the hamstrings.

Benefits: It can also be used as a relaxation pose when practicing difficult sitting, twisting asanas. This pose calms the central nervous system, reduces stress, and relieves anxiety and mild depression.                                          

PRANAYAMA – TO RELAX AND CLAIM DOWN

 Breathe Away Stress and Anxiety with Pranayama Practices

Pranayama, or ‘breath control’ is an equally important and beneficial part of yoga. Pranayama is considered a sure fire stress buster In fact, if you’re searching for mental and emotional healing, or just want to de-stress and relax, there is no therapist quite like your own breath! Pranayama is Practice Of The Life Force. "Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning ""extension of the prana or breath"" or ""extension of the life force"". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words: prana, life force, or vital energy, and Ayama, to extend or draw out.
PRANAYAMA – TO RELAX AND CLAIM DOWN
There are many kinds of pranayam such as Anulom-Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing), Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Ujjayi and Kumbhaka Pranayama to name a few. If you ever feel tense, over-worked, agitated or on edge, try these 5 pranayama techniques to unwind and de-stress.

The steps for Pranayma are :
1) Close your eyes and relax. Sit with your back straight .Sit in this position for a couple of minutes till you settle down.
 2) Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
3) Breath in from your left nostril. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds.
4) Open right nostril and close left nostril with middle and ring finger.
5) Breath out from right nostril.
6) Breathe in from right nostril, close the right nostril
7) Open left nostril and breathe out.
8) Repeat this process again and again.
9) Each time inhale and exhale with same duration.


This yoga pose ensures that a lot of stress and toxins are eliminated from your body and you are much calmer in your thought process. This breathing technique will ensure that you are focused all the time. Pranayama benefits us by bringing relief in conditions like sinus, respiratory problems, and asthma. It is also effective in dealing with conditions like constipation, flatulence, diabetes, and obesity. As Pranayama has no side effects, it is considered to be very effective for weight loss. Pranayama offers benefits in curing most of the internal body conditions and is very useful in releasing stress and anxiety.

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