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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yoga Is Good For Stress Management

By Michael Russell

Yoga is very good in stress management. Research has also shown that Hatha Yoga - the type of yoga practiced in the West - if practiced regularly, has a significant impact on ones muscular strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Studies done on a group of people, who practiced yoga, revealed that after eight weeks - on average - the flexibility of this group improved by 14% to 35%.

The body/spirit/mind union together with breathing also brings about emotional benefits. It has been reported that people who practice yoga say that they felt less stressed out and sleep better. It also enables one to handle stress better, whether it is family or work related.

So how does one get started? The first step is to have an open mind. Many people are of the mistaken opinion that one has to be flexible in order to do yoga. This is not so – less flexible individuals generally see results faster.

Next you need to join - preferably - a beginner’s class that has a qualified yoga teacher. At first you may have to try out a few different types of classes and see what suits you best - as there are many types of yoga. Generally, Hatha Yoga would be the recommended type for a beginner; as it is the most gentle and flowing type.

Sometimes you may have joined a class that may be a little bit ahead of you and this might cause you to worry whether you are doing it properly or not. Do not worry about it; all that matters is what your body feels in each stretch and how relaxed you can allow yourself to be with each pose. Remember, practice makes perfect.

It is important to understand that no two people have the same level of flexibility. If your teacher instructs you to do a particular pose and if you feel your body cannot handle it, but everyone else seems to be doing it, DO NOT force your body to do it. You might end up injuring yourself.

Concentrating on your breathing is very vital in yoga and is the key to stress management. Your teacher will tell you when you should inhale and when you should exhale when you are working through your poses. It is recommended that you breathe through your nose only, as this helps keep the body heat in and the mind focused. Practicing yoga with bare feet is generally recommended as it has a twofold purpose. One is, it will help you not to slip when you do the standing poses and second, you fully articulate and exercise your feet when you do not wear shoes.

Any type of clothing can be worn for yoga as long as it is comfortable. They should not be too big for you as it might get in the way with some postures. A leotard or bike shorts and a loose T-shirt short are fine.

Most often a yoga lesson ends with simply lying on one’s back with the arms by the side, eyes closed and taking deep breaths. This is known as the corpse position and it helps in one’s relaxation.