7 Steps to Stress Management Success with Yoga Therapy
Yoga Therapy has been proven clinically to relieve stress, and to reduce stress hormones and chemical release in the body. The fusion of breath-work and poses, that unify the mind and body, have been linked to positive results with many of the most widespread diseases globally today. Arguably the largest of these is stress itself.
Yoga Therapy offers specially tailored programs leveraging yoga and Ayurvedic wisdom as part of the world’s oldest natural medical system. If you are new to Yoga Therapy and are looking to reduce the stress in your day-to-day life, and the symptoms associated with it (gastrointestinal issues, backache, migraines, fatigue, anxiety….), these seven tips will start you on the road towards Yoga Therapy results and a more stress free, healthy body….
- Find a yoga therapist/teacher that you trust and like! It may sound silly but having a great relationship with your teacher is critical to achieving results. Talk to prospective teachers, try a few classes and check reviews and recommendations before you decide. Once you have a shortlist, trust your gut — 9/10 times it will be right.
2. Listen to your body — yoga should never be painful or uncomfortable. Ignore what you might see in the media — Yoga Therapy is not about getting your foot around your head on a beach at sunset! Each pose should be done steadily and with awareness — the poses will be most beneficial when they are done in tune with what your body needs. For every person in a class a different pose will have the most beneficial effect on their body. Yoga Therapy is unique in that the therapist can tailor the most impactful poses to you and your needs. Awareness of how each pose makes you feel will improve the impact two fold.
3. If you have specific goals, or very high stress that you want to overcome, consider trying private sessions to get started, or to kick start a change. Yoga Therapy tends to resemble an appointment with a chiro or physio in that it is often a one-on-one tailored program that focuses on your own personal needs and goals. Once you have completed a program you can always continue to practice at home, take this awareness back into group classes, or simply mix group classes with just a few private sessions a month. Private classes are especially good for newcomers, older students or anyone suffering with specific pain or illness that wants to get started gently.
4. Find a yoga buddy! Although yoga is a very personal practice during class, it’s wonderful to share and continue your practice with someone. Research has shown that having “social support” (attending classes together, sharing results, chatting about progress) improves results by up to 55% — especially when choosing yoga for weight loss or lifestyle change.
5. Eat lightly before practice. Wait at least two hours after meals before yoga class. An empty stomach is best, but don’t let yourself get too hungry to think (!) as you won’t be able to focus on the poses, or benefit fully from the relaxation practices.
6. Yoga Therapy (versus a standard yoga class) focuses on aiding people with particular pains, ailments or those who are living with very high stress. However, if you are suffering from a long-term chronic illness a very important first step is to talk to your doctor. Explain what type of yoga you intend to practice (perhaps show your doctor pictures of the poses for illustration — any therapist can give you these in advance). Your doctor may rule out specific poses if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma or heart disease for example and by following their advice you can fully relax into the “safety” of your practice. Your Yoga Therapist will tailor the program to your health but the peace of mind that comes from a medical doctor is critical in success.
7. Commit to the program! For most people, once they start there is no way they would want to stop midway but, if you are tempted, spend some time considering why? Is it the teacher, the class style, the tone of the teachers voice?! Yoga Therapy is not a quick fix but an overall lifestyle “make over” including nutrition, classes, mindfulness, home practice (for optimal results) and lifestyle routines. If you are not getting on well with the program consider “the why” and then adapt, rather than running away back to old habits.
Grab your mat, or get on Google, but get going! You have nothing to lose. If you are struggling with stress and like the idea of finding a routine that gives you back an hour or two a week to just focus on “you” — start making the change. Once you’ve started you won’t look back — even if yoga turns out not to be for you it will help you work out what is. Either way you will be one step closer to a healthier and happier you.