For centuries, yoga has been used for flexibility, pain relief and to relieve stress. When I was in college, I used it because in addition to my courses, I was also performing as a classical musician and had a rock band to pay my bills. Talk about stress??? I have heard about practitioners that were able to bring down their blood pressure and lower their heart rates to fifty beats per minute. Hatha yoga is what I practiced because my stress level and blood pressure was too high and I was in my early twenties then.
As an Eastern Rite Catholic, the meditation aspects of my faith system are very similar to the meditation aspects found in yoga. Breathing control is critical in yoga. When you lie on your back when practicing yoga this pose is called corpse pose, you breathe abdominally. This means that your center is on your diaphragm, not on your upper chest. Musicians breathe abdominally so they can control the phrase of the music.
If you have back problems, yoga can help relieve stressed out muscles. The pose that is utilized to relieve stress in the lower back is called downward facing dog. This is also a good pose for people who sit behind a desk all day, like I do. There are other poses that help with focus and relieve stress. Warrior one and warrior two are poses where you have your feet spread shoulder width apart and you have one arm extended to the right and the other to the left. You hold that pose until you bring your arms in front of you, then resume the pose again. When you practice yoga, take your time, assume the poses naturally and comfortably; just don’t rush through the process. Stress is one of the leading causes of high blood problems and issues with the cardiovascular system and yoga can relieve the stress levels.
My professor of Philosophy and Religion was a practitioner of yoga and what he taught us was mindful breathing and meditation. One of the common misbeliefs is that yoga is just a collection of poses. I have had both breathing and joint issues since I was in college. Between my faith and learning yoga, I was able to get better grades in my course work, have better sleep and simply feel better about myself. A mantra to focus on with this mindful breathing and different yoga poses will relieve the stresses of every day life.
There are some restrictions that a new person attempting to practice yoga that should be observed. If you have herniated discs, some poses will be extremely painful and can cause permanent damage. A pregnant person can practice yoga, but because their center of gravity is off balance, they must be very careful to avoid a fall. If you have osteoporosis other degenerative bone diseases, like Paget’s disease, you can practice yoga, but because of the nature of these illnesses, yoga must be practiced very slowly. Practicing yoga while holding a baby has been practiced by mom’s who want to lower the stress of parenting but, the bonding experience is worth it. We recommend reading the Sweet Science Nutrition article for a worthwhile yoga program.