Can Yoga Help Reduce Stress?
DLM: How can yoga help working parents manage stress?
Wai Lana: Everybody experiences stress these days, but I think working parents get a double dose. It’s hard to find a moment for yourself between the pressures of work and the responsibilities of raising a family. But it is very easy to fit yoga into any lifestyle or schedule, no matter how busy you are. And yoga has many different aspects. You can do postures, breathing exercises, meditation, or a combination of all three to help you manage the stresses in your life.
Stress can have a very damaging effect on our health. Stress usually begins in the mind (with all our worries and deadlines and so forth) and then transfers into the body, creating tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders. If we internalize the stresses of our lives and don’t allow ourselves to let go, then we can end up with more serious health problems like ulcers, digestive problems, chronic headaches, and so on.Yoga can help relieve both our mental anxiety and the physical symptoms of stress. Exercises that bring circulation into the muscles will help release tension in those muscles, allowing better circulation throughout the body. When we stretch, this also helps to release tension. Breathing is a very important part of yoga practice and also a very important part of our health. Yoga asanas combined with breathing, as well as pranayama (yoga breathing techniques), allow us to exercise our lungs and breathe more fully. When you learn to breathe in this way, you’ll find that you are breathing more deeply even when you’re not practicing yoga. This brings more oxygen into the body and to the brain and eliminates more carbon dioxide waste. You’ll feel more alert, refreshed, and relaxed.