Yoga is excellent for stress.
Doing yoga for stress relief is one of the most effective ways to move back into a calm frame of mind, and it can do it almost instantly. Yoga stretches and relaxes the body and calms the mind. It can change a crazy day to a peaceful one. It grounds, centers and puts you back inside your body so that you can accomplish what you need to do.
Yoga can relieve your stress by:
- increasing your oxygen flow
- slowing or stopping the lists of things-to-do in your mind
- giving you a chance to do something nice for yourself
- keeping your body in good working order to better cope with stressful situations
Yoga stress relief is one of my favorite tools for stress. I have done many yoga classes and many yoga styles. After a good yoga class, I feel fresh and relaxed, much like the “glowy” feeling after a sauna.
Choosing Your Yoga Class
If you have never done yoga, the many teachers, studios and traditions can be daunting.
To pick your first class, you might make convenience your most important consideration. Can you get to the class easily? Is the location convenient? Can you afford it? Sometimes work places or your hospital/clinic provide classes which fulfill these qualifications.
Once you have done enough yoga to know the difference between triangle pose and warrior pose, you may want to pick a particular style and study it more deeply.
Some yoga traditions will emphasize that they are relaxing or restorative. Often these classes will have quiet, longer poses. The poses will often emphasize forward bends and they will be supported. The classes will slow you down by being, well, slow.
However, to reduce stress, consider this: sometimes one can relax by focusing deeply on vigorous poses as well–but the key is focus.
If you are competitive with yourself or your neighbor, or if you turn your mind on and “think” too much, active yoga classes will be one more thing in your energetic day. You’ll become cranked up and euphoric, and take that rush with you when you leave the studio.
So if you can go deeply into your yoga practice, don’t limit your stress relief to just restorative yoga.
Here is a list of some popular yoga styles:
My favorite yoga style is Iyengar. My first yoga classes were Iyengar and perhaps I’ll never love another school as much as this one.
Iyengar yoga is best known for its use of props. Props are used to allow you to get the benefits of a pose, even if your body can not get in the position completely. Some people love the props, others hate them. Depending on the instructor, the props can make a pose more deep or they can be a nuisance that you fuss with.
For me, the props are the least important part of Iyengar yoga. Iyengar yoga is taught with very precise instructions about how to move and position the body. I often feel very deep movements which I have never experienced (translation: I often come home very sore!). My poses are better and my body becomes more limber.
Because of the precision, Iyengar yoga is good for focusing the mind. My undisciplined thoughts focus on my body, and then body and mind come together.
Anuara yoga has its roots in Iyengar, and teaches precise poses, however it is slightly less technical and more heart centered. In the classes I have taken, it is definitely supportive, with people clapping when someone does a difficult pose.
Bikram is called “hot yoga” because it is done in a hot room–a very hot room. The heat helps your muscles to relax and your body to detox. Be prepared with an extra set of clothes for after class, because you will not want to wear your soppy yoga attire home.
The same set of poses are done in each class. This sequence is designed to be an overall body workout, a tonic of sorts, which balances the whole body and detoxes the system.