Practicing yoga has a lot of health benefits – it can help you get stronger, become more toned, gain flexibility and ease niggling aches and pains in your body.
But did you know that it can also benefit your mind?
One of its greatest benefits of yoga is the ability to gain a calm and peaceful outlook, especially when you have a busy and stressful daily life. And you don’t have to be super-flexible or perform advanced poses to experience these benefits – take a look at the different poses available for beginners, intermediate and advanced users on the Track Yoga app to inspire you.
Read on to find out how practicing yoga regularly can help relieve the feelings of stress and anxiety, and help you to regain a sense of wellbeing.
- Relax with the breath
Before you begin any yoga posture or asana, the most important step to master is the simple act of breathing.
In fact, yoga is all about combining three vital elements – breathing, movement and attention. And as you learn to progress and move through different postures, you will also learn how to pay greater attention to the way you breathe.
The simple act of noticing your breath instantly has a calming and relaxing effect on your body. Whatever your state of mind, as you begin to draw your attention to the pattern of inhaling and exhaling, you will start to notice how your breathing gradually softens and relaxes – and also has a relaxing effect on your mind.
To try this, take a few moments to stand in Mountain Posture. Make sure that your shoulders are not slouched or leaning forward, and that your spine is erect. Try noticing your breath as fully as possible – can you follow the inhale and exhale without getting distracted? You may discover that you feel a lot less stressed afterwards!
- Live in the present
Yoga teaches you to live fully in the moment – without being distracted by what might have happened in the past, or may happen in the future. And if you’re plagued by anxious worries about the past or present, then your yoga practice can be a great way to help calm stressful thoughts.
By paying attention fully to each pose that you practice, you learn to bring your attention to the present moment. As you practice doing this more regularly when doing yoga, you might also begin to bring this ability in other parts of your life.
To try this, come into Downward Dog on your mat. Notice each part of your body – how do your hands touch the mat? How does your back feel? Do you feel a stretch in your shoulders or the back of your legs? Stay in the pose for up to five breathes, and see how much you notice within yourself before you move off.
- Notice your thoughts – and face your fears
One of the most powerful ways practicing yoga can help relieve stress and anxiety is by helping you to challenge yourself, notice your thoughts and overcome fears that may reside there.
We all have niggling doubts and fears that can hinder us. But when they start to become overwhelming, it can feel as if there is no way out. Practicing yoga can help you notice how thoughts will come – and go, including those fearful or doubtful ones.
When you enter a difficult pose, you might find challenging thoughts come up at first – “I won’t be able to do this!” But by learning to relax into a pose and work with your natural limitations, you can begin to see how you may just be able to do a little bit more each time. Perhaps you may gain a little extra flexibility, or be able to balance a second longer!
Practicing regularly will help you to notice how these fearful thoughts may pop up – and how they can also be overcome, with patience and dedication. This will help you boost your feeling of confidence and self-esteem, and may just inspire you to tackle other challenges in your life too!