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Your phone has begun to ring. Your boss wishes to speak with you. And your spouse is curious about what you’re having for dinner. Anxiety and stress are prevalent. If they’re getting the best of you, you should get on the mat and try yoga. Yoga is a mind-body practice that incorporates physical postures, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Yoga can help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and find peace. And nearly anyone can do it.

Yoga is one of several complementary and integrative medicine approaches. Yoga combines physical and mental disciplines that can help you achieve body and mind peace. This can assist you in relaxing and managing stress and anxiety.

Overview

Yoga comes in a variety of styles, forms, and intensities. Hatha yoga, in particular, may be an effective stress-reduction technique. Hatha is one of the most popular types of yoga, and beginners may prefer it because of its slower pace and simpler movements. However, most people can benefit from any style of yoga; it all depends on your personal preferences.

The core components of hatha yoga and most general yoga classes are:

  • Poses. Yoga poses, also known as postures, are a set of movements that are intended to increase strength and flexibility. Pose difficulty ranges from easy to difficult. In a simple post, you could lie completely relaxed on the floor. A difficult posture may require you to push your physical limits.
  • Breathing. Breathing control is an important aspect of yoga. Controlling your breathing, according to yoga, can help you control your body and quiet your mind.
  • Meditation or relaxation. You can incorporate meditation or relaxation into your yoga practice. Meditation may assist you in becoming more mindful and aware of the present moment without judgment.

Health Benefits & Safety

The potential health benefits of yoga include:

  • Stress reduction. Yoga has been shown in a number of studies to help reduce stress and anxiety. It can improve your mood and overall well-being. Yoga may also help you manage your symptoms of depression and anxiety caused by adversity.
  • Improved fitness. Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength.
  • Management of chronic conditions. Yoga can aid in the reduction of risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure. It may also aid in the treatment of low back pain, neck pain, and menopausal symptoms. Yoga may also help with the symptoms of a number of chronic conditions, including pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, arthritis, and insomnia.

When practiced under the supervision of a trained instructor, yoga is generally regarded as safe for most healthy people. However, there are some circumstances in which yoga may be dangerous. Consult your doctor before beginning yoga if you have any of the following conditions:

  • A herniated disk
  • A risk of blood clots
  • Eye conditions, including glaucoma
  • Pregnancy — while yoga is generally safe for pregnant women, certain poses should be avoided
  • Severe balance problems
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure

If you take precautions, such as avoiding certain poses or stretches, you may be able to practice yoga in these situations. If you experience any symptoms, such as pain, or have any concerns, consult your doctor to ensure that yoga is benefiting you rather than harming you.

Getting Started

Although you can learn yoga from books and videos, most beginners find it more beneficial to learn with an instructor. Classes also provide opportunities for camaraderie and friendship, both of which are beneficial to overall well-being.

When you find a class that interests you, speak with the instructor so you know what to expect. Questions to consider include:

  • What are the instructor’s qualifications? Where did he or she train and how long has he or she been teaching?
  • Does the instructor have experience working with students with your needs or health concerns?
  • Can the instructor assist you in finding poses that will not aggravate your condition if you have a sore knee or an aching shoulder?
  • How difficult is the class? Is it appropriate for beginners? Will it be simple to follow along if this is your first time?
  • What can you expect from the class? Is it geared toward your needs, such as stress management or relaxation, or toward people who want to reap other benefits?

Final Thoughts

Every person has a unique body with unique abilities. Yoga postures may need to be modified based on your individual abilities. Your instructor may be able to recommend alternate poses. It is critical to choose an experienced instructor who understands your needs in order to practice yoga safely and effectively.

You do not have to do every pose, regardless of the type of yoga you practice. Don’t do a pose if it makes you uncomfortable or if you can’t hold it for the length of time requested by the instructor. Good teachers will understand and encourage you to test — but not exceed — your personal boundaries.

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