I have always had a love hate relationship with yoga but there are two things I can’t deny: When I do yoga I feel less stressed and as a result, I feel more happy. There is also the realization that I lack flexibility and might be a descendant of the Tin Man’s, but that’s another topic.
Here are 10 Ways Yoga Can Reduce Stress and Make You Happy:
1. Increase Your Happiness. Yoga increases the production of serotonin (happy feelings) and decreases cortisol (stress) production. As a result, you get an extra boost of happy feelings and the stressful feelings seem to magically go away. This can help you to be a happier, healthier , more positive person.
2. Decrease Mood Swings. Yoga can help regulate hormones, lowers your blood pressure, and connect you to your emotions with heightened mindfulness. By practicing yoga you can reduce the likelihood of negative emotions sneaking up at you out of nowhere.
3. Decrease Anxiety and Stress. During yoga, you are encouraged to relax, slow your breathing, and focus on the present moment. This shifts you from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) to the parasympathetic system (relaxation response). The result? A slower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and lowered cortisol. (See how all three of these tie in together?) Focusing on the present moment also reduces all of the “what-if’s” that can bring on stress and anxiety.
4. Get a Better Night’s Sleep. Yoga increases the production of melatonin in the body. Melatonin helps to give you a sense of calm and well-being so when your head hits the pillow, you can drift off to dreamland.
5. Lower Your Blood Pressure. Yoga is a marriage of movement and breath. Research has proven that exercise, meditation, and breath exercises can all help lower blood pressure without medication. With yoga, you’re getting all three for the price of one…Score!
6. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone. Yoga is a great way to learn what your body is capable of. If you keep up your practice you will be amazed at what your body can do. I was always afraid of trying “Hot Yoga” but it was an amazing experience…one I need to get back to.
7. Lose Weight. You can drop pounds by practicing yoga and let’s face it, that can bring on feelings of happiness and reduce stress. Yoga regulates hormones, including the stress one called cortisol, which is the culprit behind that stubborn belly fat. It also helps you to release trapped emotions, so you are less likely to emotionally binge on a bag of chips, pint of ice-cream or other processed foods.
8. Create A-ha Moments. Yoga allows you to relax your mind. When we do this, we are able to block out all of the things we think we “need” to do. As a result, the mind quiets so that all the thoughts and creativity that are sitting on the back burners of your mind can float to the surface.
9. Learn Discipline. By starting a consistent practice, you teach yourself the art of discipline. When you map out a specific time of day for your practice, you begin to schedule your life and as a result, a lot of stress disappears because there is less “unknown” throughout your day.
10. Meet New People. Yogis can be some of the most nonjudgmental, relaxed people you can meet. They tend to take responsibility for their bodies, minds, and emotions, so it really cuts back on the drama. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is very important, especially if your goal is to reduce drama and negativity in your life.
These are just a few of the benefits that yoga has to offer and why I plan on incorporating more of it into my routine.
Want to start reducing your stress and bring on the happiness? Check out this 10 Minute Yoga for Stress video by Erin Motz (and check out her other videos on YouTube…she’s got some great ones!)
Do you have a favorite at-home yoga DVD that you use? Is there a yoga class that has changed your life? Please share with me below so I can check them out!