The benefits of yoga for stress relief are innumerable; a regular yoga practice can do wonders to reduce stress and anxiety in everyday life, as well as to increase physical fitness and promote better sleep. Practicing yoga requires strengthening muscles in the body, and finding control over the body movements and muscles, but it also involves training the breath and movement to correspond. Yoga causes the breath to become slower and deeper, which helps to immediately relieve stress, and may even help prevent the anxiety response from occurring in certain stressful situations.
Another reason that yoga is often used for stress relief is because it is frequently combined with a meditation practice. Many yoga practitioners will also practice meditation on a daily basis, with the intention of quieting the mind, letting go of past stressors or traumatic events, and again, learning to regulate the breath. Just like anything else, using meditation or yoga for stress relief takes time to achieve, though many people feel some stress relief immediately after their first practice.
The key to using yoga for stress relief is to always start where you are, and listen to the body. Yoga practitioners do not push themselves into postures that are too challenging simply to prove something; each person has their own challenges they must meet, and it is important to be aware of these limitations. With practice and time, these limitations will lessen, and more advanced postures may be possible. However, it is entirely possible to experience wonderful stress relief from yoga from just a basic program. Some people choose to take a yoga class, while others purchase a DVD or instructional book, or even just watch videos online; no matter which instructional method is chosen, it is important to always be safe and to stop if something feels dangerous or painful.
One of the main benefits to using yoga for stress relief is that it helps to burn off energy and increase flexibility and strength throughout the body, but especially in the core muscles. This can help to promote weight loss as well as release positive chemicals in the brain known as endorphins that can relieve stress and boost the mood. In addition, most people breathe very shallowly throughout the day, which can make them feel more stressed. Yoga for stress relief encourages deep, diaphragmatic breathing, which can help to lessen stress and even stop a panic attack in its tracks if done consciously, as soon as anxious feelings begin.