Manage stress through yoga and meditation
In our fast-paced, stressed-out world, there’s a need for techniques and tools, such as the use of mindfulness, to balance out the stress and pressure of work and life.
Mindfulness, often used as a therapeutic technique, is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
Meditation and yoga have been shown to promote mindfulness, which in turn has the potential to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and even cognitive skills. These exercises can also help with focus, stress and attitude, especially when combined with regular exercise and proper food choices.
Unwinding or starting the day with a gentle yoga routine can clear your mind and set a positive tone for the day.
According to Harvard Health, some of the major health benefits of practising yoga are:
- Lower your heart rate
- Slow your breathing
- Decrease blood pressure
- Increase blood flow to the intestines
- Focus on the present
Therefore, the outcome is relaxation.
Samantha Clayton, vice president of Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness at Herbalife Nutrition, shares some tips on how to manage stress through yoga and meditation. Here are meditation dos and don’ts:
- Don’t think that you need a completely silent and secluded place to practice. In the real world and especially in a home with kids or at the office, finding complete silence is almost an impossible task.
- Do try to remove yourself from all major distractions such as phones, computer screens and incredibly loud spaces. Simply turn your office chair away from the screen. If you’re at home, close your bedroom door.
- Don’t convince yourself that you need any special equipment such as a yoga mat, bells or blankets; you can go practice at your chosen location without bringing any equipment along. The less stuff you rely on, the easier it will be to take a quick moment to practice.
- Do try to sit or lie down in a comfortable place where you feel relaxed. You can keep your eyes open or close them, just do what feels right for you.
- Don’t force yourself to start breathing with a specific style, like belly breathing or nose breathing. It can initially put you off or even make you feel light-headed. You can work on breathing technique once you start to feel comfortable with meditation.
- Do focus on your breath. Feel the air coming in and leaving your body. Simply be aware of your breath and how it feels.
- Don’t start thinking negative thoughts when your grocery list or to-do list starts to creep into your mind.
- Do redirect your focus away from your grocery list and back to your breathing.
- Don’t have a long list of affirmations or goals that you think about or chant out loud.
- Do have one or two keywords that help you to relax or guide you towards a positive sense of well-being.
- Aim to find 20 minutes of quiet time for yourself once or twice a day. Remember that meditation is considered a practice, just like yoga. So yes, that means it may actually take practice to feel the full calming effects.