By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
The benefits of physical activity for mental, emotional, and physical health have been praised over the years, and Yoga is the oldest existing structured method for relieving stress. Some businesses have even started implementing corporate Yoga fitness programs to improve overall employee wellbeing.
When you consider reduced stress, increased morale, better employee attendance, and the perceived benefit among employees, a corporate Yoga program is not expensive; and some employees are willing to co-pay for these classes. While the stereotype in most business decision makers’ minds might be the room full of Yoga participants moving and breathing as one, these routines are deeply personalized, and exercises can be tailored for any individual looking to relieve stress.
Controlled breathing is one of the key aspects of any Yoga posture. Erratic breathing patterns frequently accompany stressful physical responses, so learning to master this physical response can alleviate some of the stress in a tense situation. For individuals experiencing chronic anxiety, gaining control of breathing can be an important step in gaining control of other factors.
Yoga promotes self-awareness at the level of the individual muscles. Many individuals are unaware of the full extent of muscle tension within their bodies. Unfortunately, runaway muscle tension can lead to persistent aches, pain, and emotional agitation. Muscle tension is just pent up energy screaming to be used.
Hatha, and other physical forms of Yoga, were designed to release energy, constructively. Yogic awareness, stretching, relaxing, and strengthening of the muscles will allow the individual to first notice the problem area, while exercising mental, physical, and emotional control with accuracy.
It has been noted that those, who regularly participate in a structured Yoga session, have lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of the body’s responses to stress, and it has been recorded that individuals reporting less stress have lower cortisol levels.
Increased self-confidence has often been linked with lower stress levels, and many aspects of Yoga have been linked to increased self-confidence. Regular Yoga participants noted increased muscle strength, increased flexibility, improved stamina, and improved balance. These physical measures of self-development can promote stress relief.
Most photographs promote the idea of holding poses for long periods of time. This is true for styles, such as Restorative and Iyengar Yoga. Yet, there are also forms of Yoga that leave many participants drenched in sweat. It is no secret that physical exercise relieves stress, and some forms of Vinyasa, Flow, Power, and Hot Yoga can be very intense physical workouts.
India has been enjoying the benefits of Yoga for stress relief for thousands of years. The rest of the world is quickly beginning to enjoy the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical benefits found within India’s many Yoga styles. Whether practicing alone, or as a member of a class, the benefits of Yoga are nearly endless.
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