I have found yoga techniques to work very well with anxiety and depression. This is because a lot of the responses tied up with anxiety and depression create physiological effects in the body. These create their own feedback loop, which in conjunction with the thoughts already present can seem like an endless cycle of discomfort. Yoga techniques provide some ideal tools for breaking these loops.
When we take care of our body, mind and spirit, we do not have to fill the void with outside desires. Yoga offers a chance to repair from the inside out and leaves us feeling stronger physically and mentally.
The simplest and most effective technique is to become aware of the breath, starting to regulate it and slow it down. This automatically helps the body and mind tap into its innate relaxation reflexes - slowing the heartbeat and reducing thoughts. The more we can be aware of the breath and practice this method, the more we can feel like we have some kind of tool that can help us, control the loops, which we literally feel like we have no control over.
It offers a very practical and effective way of helping to ease the stress that can build up in everyday life.
In terms of the brain activity yoga techniques increase alpha waves, promoting a more optimistic outlook and the feel-good hormones prolactin and oxytocin and reduces the stress hormone cortisol.
Holding the body in poses whilst breathing deeply encourages the retraining of the stress response and again the relaxation reflex is activated.
There are certain sounds we make, these simple sounds send vibrations through the body and mind which create a soothing effect and help distract us from our thoughts – they can also bring on a bit of laughter too! Positive visualization using images or words is a creative way of using the mind to turn around negative thoughts.
By slowly introducing the different techniques, clients can choose which one they find most appropriate and benefits them the most. They can then feel empowered and nurtured in taking care of their own process.
The clients I have taught have really appreciated the sense of ease that yoga gives them during and after the session.
"I feel so much calmer"
I have witnessed clients as they evolve a deeper and more compassionate understanding of themselves. Through yoga they have developed tools to manage their stress and have created their own coping mechanisms. I can see they have really felt and realized the effects of yoga.
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Yoga as Practical Advice for Everyday Life