Sweaty palms, racing heart rate, increased blood pressure and breathing rate are normal physical responses when the human body is placed under stress. We even find ourselves in a crabby mood when feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.
Stress can cause an imbalance in the brains nervous system and decrease activity of certain neurotransmitters associated with depression and anxiety disorders. However, many studies have found yoga, meditation, and other mind-body practices to decrease common physical and emotional symptoms. Recently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found after 2 weeks of daily yoga and meditation, subjects reported significant improvements in anxiety, allowing them to think more clearly and manage their mood.
Thinking about scenarios such as giving an important presentation may elicit feelings of anxiety or stress. A study in 2009 looked at professional musicians who experience high levels of stress/anxiety before their performances. After 2-month’s of yoga and meditation 3x/week, yoga participants showed significantly decreased anxiety/tension, depression and anger related symptoms compared to a control group who received no treatment. These results support yoga and meditation to help manage mood and alleviate stress/anxiety in certain situations such as giving a presentation, speech, or in this case, a musical performance.
Managing Stress with Yoga compared to other forms of exercise?
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have found yoga to be beneficial over other forms of exercise to positively improve mood and decrease anxiety. Their findings show an association between yoga postures and the brain receptors associated with depression and anxiety disorders. Over a 12-week period, researchers found that compared to a walking group, 60 minutes of yoga 3x/week significantly decreased anxiety and improved mood.
Start to Manage Mood with Yoga?
I have found many people fear trying this unknown practice called “yoga”. However, there is no one size fits all “yoga”, it is individualized. Just like a meal plan, you can’t feed a football player, the same you would a pregnant mother. The same goes for yoga. Any form of “yoga” can be beneficial to help manage your mood and decrease stress related symptoms.
Matching the breath to your movement, and focusing on being in the present moment is the KEY.
By slowing down the breath, we allow our minds to focus, think clearly, and detach from stressful feelings. By focusing matching the breath to simple stretches such as head/neck/shoulder rolls or lifting the arms up overhead can help to slow down our racing heart.
Begin with just 5 minutes of quiet meditation when you wake up to set the tone of your day, or at the end of the day to release stress and anxiety.
Through this “self-study” you can reap powerful benefits in helping to manage physical and mental symptoms related to anxiety, stress, and depression.