Yoga Techniques can Help Reduce Stress Levels

As a stressbuster, yoga is one of the most popular forms of treatment.

But perhaps “stressbuster” is too strong a word.  Practicing yoga doesn't necessarily "bust" stress away as much as it can help reduce it over time, in the process teaching the yoga enthusiast techniques to handle stress if it occurs again in the future.

Yoga can be an effective way to handle stress in that, unlike pills or other medications, it doesn't create harmful side effects or bring with it the possibility of chemical dependence.  Quite the contrary, yoga can help relieve you of your dependency on medical treatments to help you to relax, instead teaching you how to tap into the natural elements that are inside of you to help you cope with the pressures of life without relying on chemicals.

To begin with, “stress” (in its most common use today) is a term developed in 1932 by scientist Hans Selye and defined as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change."  Although many researchers and scientists today refrain from defining stress, including those at the American Institute of Stress (because there can be good stress - such as winning a football game - and bad stress - losing a football), they do agree that programs like yoga can aid in reducing bad stress.

The benefits of yoga as it relates to stress continues to be investigated by scientists.  In a study by the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, the effects of Sudarshan Kriya Yogic breathing on reducing stress was tested.  They discovered that "there is sufficient evidence to consider Sudarshan Kriya Yoga to be a beneficial, low-rick, low-cost adjunct to the treatment of stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, stress-related medical illnesses, substance abuse and rehabilitation of criminal offenders.  … Yoga techniques enhance well-being, mood, attention, mental focus, and stress tolerance."  

In a different study, done by the Department of Psychology and Center of Health Equity Studies at Sweden's Stockholm University, 26 women and seven men who worked at a large corporation were split into four groups and were treated with either cognitive behavioral therapy or Kundaliniyoga for four months in an effort to reduce stress.  The study found that not only did the psychological and physiological levels of stress decrease, but there was no significant difference in the amount of the reduction between the two groups.  The study reported: "The results indicate that both cognitive behavior therapy and yoga are promising stress management techniques."  

Due to studies such as these, doctors have begun to accept and promote many of the relaxation and stress reducing techniques that have been used for ages in the practice of yoga.  These techniques include gentle physical movement, stretching, controlled breathing techniques, meditation and visualization.

As regular yoga participants know, all of these techniques can unify the mind, body and spirit in a manner than medicine cannot.  And by reducing stress, yoga also can help reduce or sometimes even eliminate the conditions associated with a number of other physical aliments.  Yoga has been known to lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia, reduce muscle tension, provide relief from allergies and asthma, aid in attempts to quit smoking and help control overeating.

By eliminating the need for pills or other medical treatments which can be expensive, yoga can help individuals achieve a level of relaxation safely and naturally, using the healing elements that lie within the body.  It may not be a “stressbuster”, but yoga can put stress in check.

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Another highly recommended article is Advantages Of Yoga For Children