Why Yoga Matters Part 5-Controlling Your Stress Levels

Last time, we talked about different types of yoga equipment. This time, we are going to see how yoga can be used to help relieve stress and control blood pressure.

As the author of this newsletter, I do not claim to be a licensed medical professional of any kind. However, research shows that yoga is very beneficial when it comes to alleviating stress and controlling the effects of high blood pressure (hypertension). Some doctors actually encourage patients to practice yoga as a preventative measure.

Yoga provides a holistic approach to dealing with constant worry and stress. The practice of yoga stretches and helps alleviate tension and pain throughout your entire body. With focus, guided meditation, and basic breathing exercises you can train yourself to have control over your thoughts all while emptying your mind.

The best thing about the practice of yoga is that you can stretch and relax your body any time you are feeling overwhelmed. It helps you become aware of what is going on inside your body. The more you practice the easier it becomes to achieve the balance and harmony that your body needs.

Another nice thing about yoga is that you can practice certain breathing and relaxation techniques anywhere. Anytime you feel anxious, worried or under pressure, all you have to do is sit down, relax your shoulders, take a long steady breath in and slowly exhale. This quickly releases tension that your body was building up and it also helps you to focus better.

By repeating this practice 3 to 5 times, notice how much calmer you feel calmer. When it comes to controlling high blood pressure, there are 2 effective yoga exercises that have been proven to help lower it:

Inverted Yoga

Inverted yoga reverses the action of gravity on the body. The most profound changes brought about by ‘Inverted Yoga’ is in circulation. In inverted poses, legs and abdomen are placed higher than the heart. One of the reasons for this is simply because the force of gravity is reversed and the rate of blood flow back to the heart (venous return) becomes significantly greater.

Normally, the muscles of the calf and other skeletal muscles in the lower extremities must contract in order to pump un-oxygenated blood and waste back to the heart through the veins.

During inverted poses, gravity causes the blood to flow easily back through the veins and this brings the blood pressure in the feet to a minimum. This in effect gives skeletal muscles a chance to rest. This drainage of blood and waste from the lower body back towards the heart helps alleviate other symptoms, such as varicose veins and swollen ankles as well.

Perform this pose by lengthening up through the legs and keep them very active so your spine opens and the entire body becomes involved in the pose.

Rhythmic Breathing

Did you know the simple act of breathing has the power to nourish the body, calm the mind and ultimately reduce stress?

However, not just any breathing will do the trick. If you’re like most people, you take short, shallow breaths, pulling your stomach in as you inhale and never emptying your lungs of carbon dioxide when you exhale. But what most people don’t know is that long, slow breaths are more efficient and beneficial than short, fast ones.

To take in a good breath, your lungs must first be basically empty. Thus the key to efficient breathing lies in exhaling completely. A full exhalation begins with the upper chest, proceeds to the middle chest and finishes with tightening the abdominal muscles. Only after a good exhalation can you draw in a lung full of the oxygen-rich air your blood needs to nourish your cells.

The practice of rhythmic breathing can help harmonize the body, mind, and emotions. This unique breathing technique eliminates stress as well as fatigue and negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and depression, leaving you calm and relaxed.

Stay tuned for next week where we will be talking about the benefits of core power yoga.

To another issue of Why Yoga Matters,


Morgan Green

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