The regular practice of yoga is a brilliant way of managing stress in daily life. This article aims to introduce some of its principles to people new to the area.
Yoga is a philosophy, a science, an art, and a therapy. For some people, it is a way of life; for millions, it brings inner peace, relief from stress, and improved health.
The word “yoga” means union and is derived from the Sanskrit word “yin” meaning “to balance.” Practising yoga can aid in the journey towards self-awareness, personal development, and spiritual enlightenment, but it is more widely recognized, certainly in Western societies, for its physical benefits and its value in relaxation and stress management.
The Eight Limbs of Classical Yoga
Classical yoga is organized into eight parts, each of which affects every aspect of life, as follows:
- YAMA (universal ethics for right living, correct attitude)
- NIYAMA (personal discipline, though some sources describe this as correct orientation)
- ASANAS (the yoga postures)
- PRANAYAMA (yoga breathing)
- PRATYAHARA (withdrawing the senses from the external world, internalization)
- DHARANA (meditation, or concentration)
- SAMADHI (enlightenment, absorption, or the state of bliss and“truth”)
Practising even only a couple of the limbs of yoga, as many people do, can provide a wealth of benefits.
The postures and breathing techniques learned under the supervision of a skilled teacher stretch and tone nearly every muscle and tendon in the body and mobilize almost all of the joints through their complete range of movement. Circulation is improved, along with suppleness and strength. The internal organs and body systems are stimulated, and toxins and waste products eliminated.
The breathing techniques applied during mindful yoga induce relaxation, improve lung function, and increase energy levels. One of the advantages is that some simple exercises may be done in any place, at any time a quick remedy is needed.
A Holistic Activity to Suit Many
Because yoga exercises both the mind and the body, it is often found to be highly effective at reducing stress. Focusing the mind can clear the head of worries, fears, distractions, and unrelenting negative self-talk, whilst working the body dissipates the physical tensions that build as a result of psychological stress.
Yoga has the added benefit of being widely available to people from all walks of life. The elderly, the young, the infirm, and pregnant women can all participate and take pleasure in what yoga has to offer. It can, and should, be practiced within the individual’s own limitations, without being invasive, or putting the body at risk of strain or injury.
To summarise, it is true to say that yoga has much to offer in terms of physical, mental, and psychological well-being and is an excellent option for anybody looking for a holistic (i.e., looking after mind, body, and soul) approach to stress management.