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Anxiety, Stress, and The Yoga Solution

Hindu spiritualism aside, yoga is one of the most widely practiced exercises for improving personal health and relaxation. And, the older I've become, the more I've grown accustomed to informally applying its principles to my own routines at the gym. Things like breath control, meditation, and the adaption of specific stretches and body poses have helped me through physical recovery and pain.

And, considering that most of my clients come to me for help in treating injury recovery and/or pain, I thought the subject appropriate for today's message. If you aren't familiar with the benefits of yoga, let me just say there are many of them. Although far from exhaustive, I've listed a small batch of benefits below. They include:

  • Reducing muscle and joint stiffness so that you to move better and more freely

  • Support your efforts to build muscular strength (especially core strength) and physical endurance​

  • Improves your body awareness thereby helping improve your posture by default

  • Takes the edge off of stress so that you feel more relaxed

  • Can help to drop blood pressure and decrease your heart rate

  • Research suggests yoga can positively effect immune system function, and improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels

What type of yoga are you best suited for? Considering the many different types of yoga, finding the one that works best for you depends entirely on what you are looking to get out of yoga practice. You might also want to consider which type is best suited for your personality.

Here I've prepared a list of some of the most common types of yoga out there:

  • Ashtanga

  • Bikram (Hot)

  • Hatha

  • Iyengar

  • Kundalini

  • Power

  • Restorative

  • Vinyasa

  • Yin

For this article, I want to feature Restorative Yoga because of its profound effects on reducing stress levels and the ability to bring the body back into balance. The guiding principle of this type of yoga is that of slowing down your mind and opening your body through passive stretching ... During the long, body poses of restorative yoga, your muscles experience a unique feeling via props used to support your body during this process.

By using props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks, the body feels supported enough to release and let go of "guarded" muscular tension. You can virtually take any yoga pose and make it a restorative pose by adding a prop support and extending the duration of the pose.

In our fast-paced, never-stop society, Restorative Yoga allows us to be still and get back to our true nature.

Restorative Yoga postures help release built-up tension by gently lengthening and opening the whole body, including muscles and connective tissue. Through this, equilibrium is restored, and the body regains lost energy and vitality. When our daily lives are filled with anxiety, stress, deadlines, and never ending responsibilities, restorative yoga can be a drug free remedy for these challenges.

Because the poses in restorative yoga are held longer that typical (sometimes for 3-9 minutes), you can deeply “let go.” This “letting go” enables the body to naturally restore a sense of well being. Our bodies strive to maintain homeostasis - a state of balance. Unfortunately many factors, including stress, pulls us away from this balance.

However, I find Restorative Yoga works magic when it comes to lessening the severity of our daily "flight or fight" stress response. It also stretches tight, knotted muscles and bolsters the hormonal process of rest and digest. The result is a physiological state that is the antithesis of the stress response and allows the body a way of "restoring" homeostatic balance.

Adding restorative yoga to your current weight training program is an excellent adjunct. Plus, it can provide you with added physical, mental, and emotional benefits, too. And, if you're new to the practice, great way to start would be taking a class, attending a workshop, or even purchasing a DVD.

Just do a simple Google search for "Restorative Yoga" in your area and see what you come up with.

In the meantime, continue to own your age, love your life, and keep moving toward a better you.

Your Coach,

John Aaron

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