By Juliette

Does Yoga Actually Reduce Stress? The Facts.

how yoga reduces stress

One of my favorite sayings about yoga is how it’s funny how outsiders think yogis are all calm people when, in fact, we’re all here because we’re all nuts. Ain’t it the truth! As my anxiety and stress levels only increased with my age, I realized I wasn’t utilizing the proper, or any, coping mechanisms to deal with the pressures of *adulting*. The shallow breathing, consistently feeling overwhelmed, unregulated emotions, ya know, the good stuff when you can’t get a grip on life. And while I’ve seen many friends turn to medication as a solution (all the more power to them), I wasn’t yet willing to give up this fight to modern medicine. I wanted to address my issues holistically, identifying the root of these emotions and develop strategies to handle them in any and all environments.

So, I had no choice but to finally get serious about my yoga and meditation practice. While my occasional Sunday evening classes were enjoyable, they weren’t enough for me to change my thought patterns. Yet, driving to the studio and rolling out my mat for 75 minutes every day just wasn’t feasible with a full-time job (and my addiction to watching Friends reruns). I needed my practice to meet me where I was, literally, at my house. Although I was initially shaky and unsure of my yoga sequencing, a few vinyasas followed by a series of slow stretching and meditation allowed me to recreate my nightly routine. By taking my mat out each night, I also picked up some other habits, like keeping my phone in another room, turning the tv off and shutting down my busy mind in order to focus on my movement..ridding all the usual suspects known for causing stress.

And, shocking to no one, it worked. I learned to control my breathing, to recognize the signs of anxiety and stop them before they drowned me. Ultimately, I made major life decisions that altered my entire way of life. Instead of concerning myself with how I thought my life should look, I got rid of all the fluff. Ya know, the expectations ingrained in me, both from internal or external factors, that didn’t entirely match my interests or passions. Can you relate? Now, I finally had a clear vision to determine what direction I truly wanted to go in. So, I changed my entire social circle, altered how I viewed my day job, and, most importantly, registered for my own 200 hour yoga certification, giving me the ability to share this revelation with others.

It’s important to note that yoga doesn’t avoid uncomfortable positions. I mean if you’ve ever seen someone in revolved half moon, then you know this is true. Ugh, that pose it TOUGH. I digress. Yoga doesn’t shield away from tight, suffocating spaces. Instead, yoga puts you in these places to teach you how to respond to them in a positive way. It *changes* how your body reacts to frustrating moments in a healthy manner so that your body will start to react that way on its own.

yoga shedule

Still not buying it? Totally get it. I, too, am a “show me the data or I’m believin’ nothing” type gal. So here you go. Check out this study here that states that yoga can be considered as a possible adjunctive therapy for those dealing with stress and anxiety. Because it has no lasting side effect (only good ones..) or conflicts with any other form of treatment, yoga is shown to encourage overall quality of life. Or this one, where prisoners who completed a yoga or meditation program while incarcerated showed increases in their psychological well-being.
Even more so, in as little as nine days, another study suggests that “lifestyle modifications and stress management programs lead to favorable metabolic effects”.

Sold? Good. Now it’s time to put this into action. Tune in later this week for a simple ten minute sequence that will release tension, reduce stress, and empower your soul wherever you might be. For real. See ya then!

YOGA UPDATES! Are you in the Washington, D.C. area? Do you have a pre-teen or teen that could benefit from practicing mindfulness and yoga (aka all of them!)? I’m offering a pre-teen to teen yoga summer camp at Your Life Energy that will focus on building strength, balance, flexibility and healthy habits for when kids need it most! Find out more info here.

How do you handle stress? If at all?


18 thoughts on “Does Yoga Actually Reduce Stress? The Facts.”

  • I have just recently started getting into Yoga and I definitely think it relieves stress, and it also helps me sleep when I do yoga stretches before bed! Thanks for sharing!

  • I”m glad yoga was able to help you. I have been feeling pretty stressed out for some reason, so maybe I will try yoga to see if it helps!

  • You’re really inspiring me to give time to yoga. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Also, the teen yoga program sounds like an awesome venture. They sure do need it, sometimes just as much as we do, sometimes more.

    • I hope you find a class nearby to get you started! Or there’s so many quick flows on youtube that are easy to fit in first thing in the morning 🙂 keep me posted on your yoga journey!

      • Do you think that the time of day matters much? I have started bike riding every morning and evening and I love it. Since I will be off for the summer, I was thinking to do it after the ride, but I’m not sure which one. I’d like to develop a routine to look forward to and be accountable to.

  • I have a condition where I am super flexible (hypermobile) so my joints are always out of whack and it causes me pain. I used to always do yoga and pilates but turns out it is bad for me, who knew?! I so wish I could do this!

  • Your first line made me laugh because it’s SO TRUE. As a 1st grade teacher I’m constantly fighting the overwhelming stress and exhaustion that comes with teaching. Now thatI’ve begun regularly practicing, I CRAVE yoga because it genuinely reduces my stress levels. My practice has also chilled me out in the classroom. My partner and I joke that yoga is the ‘cure all’ suggestion people give, but that’s because it works!

    Susie –

    • Couldn’t agree more! In my other life (aka my day job) I’m a teacher at an elementary school and I NEED yoga to maintain sanity both at work and at home! It is the cure all for sure. Thank you for sharing!

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