From the loose, stretchable and breathable clothing to the slow movements and poses that warm muscle fibers, yoga centers on comprehensive relaxation. Relaxation is not a goal as much as a lifestyle in the yoga world, with the principles of peace, ethical living and refinement of the soul being ultimate goals. The presence of stress, preoccupation, hyperactivity and aggression are tantamount to sicknesses for yogis. Expelling all that negative energy to reach a calm state makes one a true practitioner.
Here are five ways yoga can help you achieve a relaxed state:
1. Reduced heart rate; increased circulation
The frozen yoga poses and the slow, languid transition from pose to pose has a calming effect on the heart, reducing the heart rate. In fact, many yoga practitioners claim to experience lower blood pressure immediately after a yoga class. Despite the heart pumping less vigorously, yoga‘s stretching activity actually sends more blood to body organs and limbs, allowing them to do their jobs without less stress.
2. Serotonin production (Drugs!)
Hold the chocolate. Yoga provides a better and lower-calorie way to encourage the brain to produce more of this relaxing and feel-good chemical. The serotonin produced during a 30 to 60 minute yoga class has been reported to ease depression and create a sense of tranquility and optimism. Studies also show that yoga increases GABA — gamma-amino butyric acid — another brain chemical that improves disposition. All this mood elevation and drug production is likely the result of not just the physical yoga activity, but also the meditation, which focuses on embracing the good, banishing the evil and rising to your higher self.
3. Reduced inflammation
One source of stress for many bodies is inflamed skin, joints and organs. One might not even know it, but the general sense of malaise related to inflammation will be felt. Amazingly, yoga can relieve inflammation, mostly by reducing the amount of cytokine in the blood. Cytokine levels rise during stressful experiences. The more you do yoga, the more your body becomes adept at combating these stressful serum chemicals. You can stretch and become flexible without feeling any pain from inflamed muscles or joints.The most effective way to reap these benefits is to habitually stop, remove yourself from a stressful experience and do yoga, even if just for five or 10 minutes, in order to stop and reverse the tension.
4. More Oxygen
The sheer introduction of more oxygen to the lungs and body tissue can ease stress and calm the body. This is why doctors warn upset people to stop and take a deep breath. Yoga calms naturally because practitioners engage in deep breathing. The full breaths practiced during yoga poses fills the entire chest cavity, bringing more oxygen to the lungs and all cells. This puts the body in a deep state of tranquility.
5. A Clear Mind & Spirit
Yoga is about more than body; it also about the wellness of mind and spirit. During yoga poses, practitioners meditate in order to block negative thoughts from entering the mind. Instead, exercisers think about God, light, positive energy and life energy. They think about how to increase all these things by reaching skyward and outward, arranging their bodies in spiritual devotion. Not only does this reduce worry and mental tension, but it reportedly increases vitality, optimism and a sense of being closer to the Divine.
About The Author: Shawn Tremaine is a personal trainer and health and fitness writer, and has reviewed MindBodyMojo’s guide to Chicago yoga. When he’s not working on helping others increase their health, he likes to spend it coaching his little boys soccer team.