20 Jun 2023
International Yoga Day 2023: Check out these Yoga asanas for stress relief or techniques to calm the mind and body
According to experts, Yoga is a powerful exercise method for combating stress and promoting overall well-being as through a combination of physical postures, controlled breathing techniques and mindfulness practices, Yoga helps reduce stress levels and induces a state of calm and relaxation so ahead of International Yoga Day, why not try some gentle stretching and strengthening of the body through Yoga postures and release tension and promote physical relaxation? The deep, conscious breathing techniques in Yoga activate the body's relaxation response, soothing the nervous system and alleviating anxiety.
Additionally, the practice of mindfulness and present-moment awareness in Yoga cultivates a sense of mental clarity, helping to quiet racing thoughts and promote a peaceful mindset. Regular Yoga practice has been shown to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increase the production of endorphins (the feel-good hormones), resulting in improved mood and reduced stress levels hence, by incorporating Yoga into our daily routine, we can effectively manage stress, improve our overall well-being, and find a greater sense of balance and inner peace.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Psycho-counsellor Shivali Khagram shared, “Chronic anxiety and stress have been linked to a wide range of health issues and can have a negative impact on almost every organ and system in the body. You can unwind and find mental peace and tranquility through yoga exercises. Yoga assists in letting go of the tension, reducing stress, and producing feel-good chemicals like endorphins, and other naturally occurring neurochemicals.”
She added, "Another way is by body scan/Yog Nidra meditation. This kind of meditation directs your attention to different areas of your body. You start at your feet and work your way up, similar to progressive muscle relaxation but rather than contracting and relaxing your muscles, you simply concentrate on how each part of your body feels, without categorising the sensations as "good" or "bad"."
DrMickeyMehta, Holistic Health Guru and Corporate Life Coach, highlighted, “Yoga as the word suggests is all about coming together of things, integration of faculties, and senses. Integration of Mind, body, soul, and spirit. It is the Integration of emotions, psychology, movement and awareness of being here-now always in the present and stress is never there in the present. Stress is always about the past or the future. The anxiety about the future or the haunting memories and the fear of the past not wanting them to repeat again in life. Yoga encourages relaxation, which is naturally the antithesis of tension, so it can help lower stress levels. So whenever one does Yoga asanas or postures in poetry.”
He emphasised, “In every posture, there is stillness, calmness, coming together, holding your body and mind in the present moment awareness and a feeling of letting go. With asanas like, Balasana, Paschimottanasana, Adho Mukhasvanasana, Setu Bandhasana, Ustrasana, or leg raises Stress simply disappears. As we breathe, move, and circulate, as we integrate with stretch and contraction simultaneously in every posture, the mental stress, the emotional, hurt and the pain, dissolves. Even the physical knots open up and as the body opens up, so does the mind opens up. As the mind opens up the body opens. As the body opens there is a release of mental knots, tension, stress and adhesions and as the mind opens up there is the release of emotions, tension and stress. Breathing in a regulated way, moving in postures with grace without aggression from one to another is a perfect way of releasing stress of all kinds. From disease to ease, from disorder to order, from disintegration to integration, and from degeneration to generation is what one experiences.”
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Hansaji Yogendra, Director at The Yoga Institute, said, ""Yoga is not a workout; it is a work-in." In a world of total chaos and constant pursuit of external goals, we often neglect the most important aspect of our being: ourselves - our body, mind, and soul. Seeking happiness outside of ourselves leads to constant worry and stress. We take for granted our ability to move, think, hold memories and experience the world. However, Yoga, as we know it, has been our saving guide. Instead of being a cure, it is a preventive science enriched by the wisdom of our sages. A healthy mind and a fit body are the foundations of all our experiences, without which wealth cannot bring us happiness."
According to him, following are the top 4 asanas for stress relief:
1.Sukhasana (The happy pose)
Sitting cross-legged on the floor has been a part of our Indian culture for a long time, but did you know that this is also the best meditative posture? The name comes from the word "Sukham," which means easy, comfortable, joyful and pleasurable. The concept of "minimal movement," derived from great sages, aims to conserve human energy and allow the internal organs and systems of the body to be at ease for meditation practices to strengthen.
2.Balasana (Child's pose)
Being a foundational Yoga posture, this reminds us that "non-action" is equally important as "action" in our lives. This asana stimulates the nervous system, increasing blood circulation and facilitating the easy flow of energy, resulting in reduced stress in the body.
3. Viparitkarni (The Inverted Posture)
According to authorities on Hatha Yoga, this posture of inverted balance has been specifically designed to bring about inner harmony and the union of opposites, such as arterial and venous blood flow, afferent and efferent nerve impulses, and positive and negative counterparts of bioenergy, with the aid of gravitation.
4. Shavasana (The corpse pose)
This pose gets its name from the recumbent posture of a dead body. It is a position of rest and relaxation, usually practiced towards the end of the asana session. Shavasana creates a space or pause where deep healing occurs in the body. The idea is for the practitioner to completely surrender and let go.
All of Yoga is about letting go and surrendering. When we release control and have more faith, stress transforms into peace and we experience freedom, finding our ultimate bliss. Isn't that what we truly desire?
Published in Hindustan Times