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May 24, 2016

By Luminary Vanessa Kump

Stress and anxiety are everywhere. Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate. Here are five surprising ways you can use yoga to de-stress your life.

You Can Get by with Just Two Classes a Week

Just two 90-minute classes a week is enough to notice an improved stress response. According to research on yoga and meditation coming out of Germany, study participants noted a decrease in stress, anxiety, and also depression.

Can't Make It to Class? Just Breathe!

Breathing also has the same effect. Taking 20 to 30 minutes a day to focus on abdominal breathing can reduce anxiety and reduce stress, according to the American Institute of Stress. “Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness,” they write on their website.

Yoga Heals a Broken Heart

As romantic relationships end, loved ones are lost and grief strikes our heart, these periods of time can add an enormous amount of stress to our lives. Incorporating a regular yoga practice to our day can not only help us heal in times of despair, and using yoga as a “Form of self-care will help you process your grief and recharge your emotional batteries,” says Seane Corn, a yoga instructor who leads Yoga for a Broken Heart workshops around the world.   Moving your body with your breath releases feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin.  Doing this regularly can decrease cortisol and adrenaline levels, helping to alleviate the stress, anxiety, and sadness that comes with heartbreak.

Yoga Helps You Sleep Better

If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, despite regular physical activity and a healthy diet, stress and anxiety could be the culprit. Being in a state of physical overload can also leave you feeling restless. That’s where a relaxing, cooling ‘yin’ and yoga nidra practice can help restore balance. Yoga nidra, also known as the science of yoga sleep, is a powerful, effective practice that puts the body in a state of consciousness between being awake and asleep. Similar to a guided meditation, yoga nidra calms the body’s fight-or-flight response and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Try this 10-minute yoga nidra practice to beat stress and help you get a great night’s sleep.

A Regular Yoga Practice Lowers Your Blood Pressure

If you struggle with high blood pressure, which affects a lot of people (me included), yoga can help you get a handle on it. Studies have shown that making a few lifestyle changes, such as adding yoga stretching to your daily routine can help your arteries stay pliable therefore naturally lowering your blood pressure.

Following these 5 simple tips, can lead to a healthier and more productive practice, and that can help us all relax a little more.

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