WHY YOGA IS THE SIMPLEST & MOST EFFECTIVE REMEDY FOR STRESS RELATED ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
More than 60 million Americans are taking prescription medications for stress-related anxiety and depression.
Among the common side effects of these medications like drowsiness, lack of energy, confusion, insomnia, agitation, irritability, are anxiety and depression!
I want a new drug.
You may not be taking pills, but are you mindlessly scrolling facebook, zoning out in front of the tv, drinking more than one glass of wine, or some other form of escape?
Or maybe you’re pushing yourself too hard at the gym, frantically cleaning and organizing, picking a fight with someone at home, or some other form of distraction?
Guess what? Side effects of these “relaxation” techniques can be drowsiness, lack of energy, confusion, insomnia, agitation, irritability, anxiety and depression!
Is this really working for you?
I’ve got good news. There’s a better way.
One that won’t make you sick.
Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that help us experience enduring health and happiness, and achieve our highest potential.
The literal translation of the word yoga is to yoke, which means to join or to unite, and it’s commonly accepted that yoga promotes the mind-body connection.
Why is this important? Yoga therapy is the most effective remedy for stress-related anxiety and depression known to science.
Yoga therapy is using the vast toolbox of yoga’s mind-body insights and practices to create a plan of treatment for afflictions of the mind and body.
In other words, we can use our mind and body to alleviate the chronic stress that leads to anxiety and depression.
You’re probably familiar with the mind-body connection already:
- Have you ever felt butterflies in the pit of your stomach before speaking in public or meeting someone you wanted to impress?
- Have you ever been embarrassed and blushed?
- Has the sight of something delicious caused your mouth to water?
- Have you ever been so anxious or stressed out that you can’t sleep well?
In these examples thoughts (worry about impressing someone, the shame of judgment, anticipation of yummy food) create distinct physical reactions (reduction of blood flow to abdomen producing a fluttery sensation in the belly, widening of blood vessels in the face causing increased redness, saliva excretion).
Let’s get physical.
It works the other way too. You may have experienced your body influencing the state of your mind:
- Is there a particular smell that evokes a memory?
- Has laughing ever lifted a grumpy mood?
- Have you ever received a hug and felt more secure?
- Does taking a hot bath, ease your mind?
In these cases, the physical experience releases mood-elevating chemicals in the brain.
Let me hear your body talk.
From the perspective of yoga therapy, the experiences of your body and mind hold important information.
If you’re paying attention, your physical and mental systems show you what you need in order experience enduring health and happiness, and achieve your highest potential.
The problem is many of us take pills to alleviate our “symptoms” or find a way to escape, distract, or otherwise separate ourselves from undesirable parts of our own reality.
And we’re meant to be whole. So our body and mind are put under physical and mental pressure to remedy the disconnect.
What is physical and mental pressure? Stress. (And if we keep at it, chronic stress leads to anxiety and depression.)
Your body talk.
At the level of the physical body, one aspect of the stress response is to constrict. If constricted muscles can lead to mental tension, physical relaxation can promote calm.
TRY THIS SIMPLE PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION:
How it’s done: To relax from head to toe, close the eyes and focus on squeezing and releasing each muscle group for 2-3 seconds each. As you squeeze, breathe in through the nose. Hold for a count of 2-3 seconds, then breathe out through the slightly pursed lips (like you’re exhaling through a straw) as you release.
Start with your face, forehead, eyes, lips, and jaw, then move down to your neck and shoulders, your arms, hands and belly, your butt, thighs and knees, your feet and toes.
Important note: If holding the breath or pursing the lips feels uncomfortable or causes dizziness, don’t do it. Squeezing on the inhalation, and immediately exhaling through a wide open mouth to release will work.
Tip: This doesn’t have to take a long time and you can do this anywhere. Try it in the shower if you wake up tense. Or in the car on the way home from work if you’ve had a rough day. (Don’t close your eyes while the car is moving!) Or lying in bed if you’re having trouble falling asleep.
NOW YOU TELL ME: HOW DOES RELAXING YOUR BODY AFFECT YOUR MIND? WHAT DO YOU NOTICE ABOUT YOUR BODY WHEN YOU’RE UPSET, OVERWHELMED, WORRIED, ETC? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
HI, I’M STEPHANNIE.
I’m a Certified Yoga Therapist on a mission to make yogic wisdom, movements and breathing practices simple so that you can make them part of your routine and be less stressed, more confident, and experience more cam every single day.
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