Category Archives: Yoga tips

5 Ways Yoga Helps with Anxiety

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life…
live in the moment; live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

One out of four Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lives.  Such disorders are sometimes accompanied by panic attacks – intense feelings of panic that often come out of nowhere.  Panic attacks can include a pounding heart, sudden sweating, dizziness, and shallow breathing.  Living with anxiety and panic attacks is difficult, but there are a variety of techniques that can help to ease symptoms.  Yoga is an excellent way to reduce anxiety (and stress).  Here are five ways that yoga helps with anxiety.

 

  1. Yoga forces you to focus on your breathing.                                          

When someone has an anxiety attack, they make short, shallow breaths.  This can actually make a panic attack worse because this type of breathing can cause a lightheaded, faint feeling.  The most important aspect of yoga is focusing on the breath.  When you’re feeling tired or a pose is particularly difficult, focusing on taking deep, slow breaths makes all the difference.

Training yourself to follow your breathing during yoga class is a useful skill that can be applied to other areas of life.  Whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed, remember to take deep, slow breaths until you start to feel more relaxed.

 

  1. Exercise gives you endorphins.                                                           

Like other forms of exercise, yoga gives you endorphins.  Endorphins are neurotransmitters in the brain that have been shown to improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and relieve stress and anxiety.  Endorphins are essentially an all-natural antidepressant.  Additionally, flexibility and strength gained from yoga can help to prevent injuries and reduce chronic pain.  Who isn’t happier when they aren’t in pain all the time?

 

  1. Yoga reduces muscle tension.                                                                      

When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, we often tighten certain areas of our bodies without even realizing it.  Prolonged stress or anxiety can lead to pain and muscle tension in the back, head, neck, shoulders, and other areas.  Yoga helps relieve muscle tension by strengthening, lengthening, and relaxing sore muscles.  Over time, yoga can also improve posture, which aids in reducing muscle tension.

 

  1. Yoga is hard.                                                                                                     

Yoga is challenging – even if you’re a more experienced yogi, you will probably have certain poses that are still tough for you.  Engaging in something that is challenging – and sticking with it even when it’s hard – will give you more confidence and faith in yourself.

During a particularly tough pose, an instructor may say “This is probably getting pretty uncomfortable.  Breathe through it.  Just breathe.”  This is a good metaphor for life with anxiety.  When you’re feeling uncomfortable, accept the discomfort.  You have survived feeling uncomfortably anxious before, and you will get through it again.  Accept the discomfort instead of trying to fight it.  Breathe.

 

  1. Yoga classes emphasize community and faith.                          

When you’re suffering from anxiety, you may feel like no one else “gets” it.  This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Yoga classes can be a way to meet new people and develop a sense of community.  During the resting poses, instructors often offer suggestions for relaxing and being more present.  They tend to emphasize finding peace and strength within yourself or a higher power.  Having faith in something greater than yourself can be helpful when trying to cope with anxiety.

 

A Final Note

Yoga is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety and stress.  Yoga can help you to focus on your breathing, release endorphins, relieve muscle tension, gain confidence, and be a part of a community.  If you haven’t tried yoga before, I highly encourage you to try it out!

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jen Hayes, a frugal lifestyle blogger and freelance writer. 

 

5 Best Yoga Poses for Runners

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Although running and yoga may seem like activities that are on opposite ends of thspectrum, they really are complementary activities that work together beautifully. Running is an excellent way to exercise your whole body aerobically at a high level of intensity. The main benefit of running includes gaining muscular strength, better cardiovascular health, and losing weight. It can also be quite meditative.

However, running can be stressful on muscles, joints, and ligaments. It’s estimated that after every mile, your feet will hit the ground around 1,000 times. This means if you run about 20 miles every week, each foot will hit the ground approximately 20,000 times.

This repetitive impact may affect your hips and legs, which can lead to stiffness and sometimes even pain. For you to get rid of these stressful effects of running, practicing yoga before and after you run will help you to stay flexible, limber, and less prone to injury.

Additionally, if you are looking for a way to not get tired when running, these five yoga poses will definitely help and improve your running.

  1. Butterfly1

This yoga pose helps in adding flexibility to your groin and hips by opening up your inner thighs. Lean forward a little and the activity also aids in stretching the back. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit tall on a mat and make sure that the soles of your feet are together, from here interlace your fingers and keep them on your toes when still sitting tall.
  • Next, turn your shoulders back and try to look at a point past the end of your nose tip.
  • Lean forward until you can feel the stretch.
  • While breathing in, imagine that your head is moving towards the wall in front of you and then breathe out, allowing your body to sink close to the floor.
  • For the best results, ensure you hold this position for about thirty seconds.
  1. Thread the Needle2

If you need a yoga move to stretch the outside of your hips and the inner thighs, then this is it. Do the following:

  • Lie flat on your back on a mat and bring your knee towards your chest at a ninety-degree angle.
  • Position your right ankle on your left thigh and then interlock your fingers while keeping them at the back of your thighs.
  • Try to pull your left thigh towards your chest and hold in this position for about thirty seconds.
  • Allow yourself to relax when you feel the tension building and repeat the pose on the other side.
  1. Bridge3

This move will help in opening your shoulders and front of the body as well as strengthen the core. It’s a great activity to counteract the effects of running since the longer we run, the more we tend to hunch forward. Follow these steps:

  • Lie on your back and place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
  • Lift your hips up towards the ceiling while engaging the core.
  • Clasp your hands together underneath your pelvis and roll the shoulders blades towards each other.
  1. Seated Spinal Twist4

This pose not only helps to loosen the spine but also ease stiff shoulders and neck after a long run. Here’s what to do:

  • Cross one leg over the other while keeping your knees pointed to the ceiling with the sole of your feet on the ground.
  • Try to reach your opposite hand across your body while pushing it against the outside of the thigh and downwards to your knee to make the twist deep.
  1. Low Lunge5
  • From standing pose lunge the right leg forward until the back left knee touches the ground.
  • Raise the arms above the head and hold for 30 seconds.

These five poses are an excellent way to end any running session. They work the front and back of the legs, strengthen the core, and open the hips. Do them regularly and you should stay a happy and healthy runner.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Emily Carter, founder of GoAheadRunner, where she and her team blog about everything a runner needs, whether you are a seasoned pro or an absolute beginner. The blog provides information on training, running gear, supplements and much more. Follow Emily on Twitter.