5 Benefits of Yoga to Reduce Stress
In this fast-paced, modern world of digital, people are exposed to constant digital signals, sometimes overloading the mind to process unnecessary information. On the low end of the scale, you have all the notifications running on your phone apps. On the higher end of the scale, you have unhealthy addiction to social media. The digital culture has wired us to be “on-demand”, causing us to stress over every “ding”. Did you know that your body responds to every one of these “dings”?
Let’s start by understanding what stress does to the body. When we are exposed to a stressful situation, our body responds by releasing a surge of hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. This is the body’s natural way to equip us to respond to through “flight or flight”, resulting in a surge of energy and increased heart rate. It’s handy if you were trapped in the woods and determine whether to run or fight off a wild animal! But that elevated state of alertness is not healthy for prolonged periods of time. Being exposed to constant stress without the opportunity for the body to rest subjects our body to all sorts of unhealthy malfunctions.
How do we tackle this problem in this world-gone-crazy that we live in? If you can’t change the pace the world zooms around you, you can certainly practice healthy habits to help you manage the pace. Of course we’re going to recommend yoga!
Let’s see how yoga is helpful! And remember to read on for our two nutritional guides too!
1. Regulating Your Breath
Breath work is a very important component in yoga. Different breathing techniques are used to lead your practice into meditation and movement. Often when we are stressed, our breaths are shortened. Learning to regulate your breathing helps calm the nervous system and allow you to manage the situation at hand in a more productive way. Yoga teaches you to bring awareness to your breathing and using it to help you move through challenging poses in the practice which aims to train your mind and body to learn to move through challenging situations with a steady, calm breath.
2. Relaxing Your Mind and Body
Not only does breathing help calm the mind but many resting poses such as Child’s Pose and reclining postures help calm your nervous system and relax your muscles. Many stretches and hip openers also help release physical tension in your body and even trapped emotions! That’s why many people feel refreshed and rejuvenated after a yoga class!
3. Mind & Body Awareness
Yoga takes a lot of concentration as you connect your breath to movement. Learning to connect your mind and body in your practice brings awareness to areas where you need balance and engagement. You start to notice muscles that are rarely activated or stretched and areas that need more strengthening. We often hold on to unnecessary tension in our bodies and in our lives. On the mat is an opportunity for you to start becoming aware of tension areas that need release.
4. Practicing Presence
Yoga teaches you to be present. Being present and mindful is noticing the ‘now’ and only the now. So often, we’re so busy holding on to events in the past or planning the future that we waste our lives forgetting to appreciate the gifts of presence. Presence doesn’t have a second chance. Maybe it is the gentle breeze, the feeling of your head touching the mat or the smell of the room. Taking notice of small details of the present teaches you gratitude for the little things, often the things ignored or taken for granted. When you start taking notice of these small things, you shift your focus from stresses that consume you to your surroundings, and create space to remind yourselves to be grateful for all the blessings you have.
5. Decluttering your Mind
With Grace x Strength we teach you to use your time on the mat as your devotion time with God. This in itself is a time to enjoy without distraction. We do not believe in the emptying of the mind because the mind is not created to be emptied, but we believe in decluttering the mind and filling it with beautiful truths from God. Bringing our view on life to a top down perspective instead of bottom up perspective - steering our focus away from our stressful situation and remembering that it is not what our future holds but WHO holds our future.
BONUS NUTRITION TIPS FOR STRESS:
Two types of foods which help counter the negative effects of stress - Adaptogenic herbs and foods with high antioxidants.
What are Adaptogenic Herbs?
In simple terms, they are a group of herbs that are nurtured in harsh environments where they have learnt to adapt and survive. They are, therefore, able to provide the same affects to help our bodies adapt in harsh environments i.e. stress. These herbs include holy basil, ginseng, rosemary, astragalus and many more!
What are Antioxidants?
As a result of your body’s natural processes, such as food breakdown and breathing, free radicals are released into your body. It’s a complex process and we’re not here to study biology! Simply put, the more free radicals in your body, the faster your body ages, not to mention all the other nasty things they do to your body.
Antioxidants slows down the ageing process of your body by preventing the damages of free-radicals to the body. Foods with high antioxidants are found in... berries! - with acai berry in the lead followed by blueberries and goji berries. There are also a range of herbs and spices with very high antioxidants, e.g. clove, cinnamon, oregano, and turmeric.
Give us some feedback if you try these herbs and antioxidants out. We want to hear whether you see positive results from our sharing!
Be blessed! xx