How Yoga Changed My Life

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Life is stressful. Someone cuts you off on the freeway. Work piles up, and your boss doesn’t seem to get that you are human, too. No one else seems to understand what you are going through. Then one day, you say something that you don’t mean to someone you care about, because you have bottled up your frustrations of the day. 
Yoga allowed me to see things differently. I see the stressful events in front of me. I might even feel a twinge in my chest or the anxiety approaching, but I stop. I take a breath, and I actively combat the stress with calming thoughts and soothing breaths. When I am actually in the yoga studio, it becomes even simpler. Suddenly, the worries shrink, until they disappear. My breath is louder than my thoughts, as I mentioned in my post “Breathe in, Breath out.” And I am able to stay focused on the present poses.

Via The Mayo Clinic
Child’s Pose// In child’s pose you are faced toward your mat–arms stretched out, legs bent, forehead on the mat. Many of the instructors I have had start the class with in child’s pose, reminding us to return to this pose if we are overheated (I do a lot of hot yoga) or out-of-sync with our breath. While I am not going to go into this pose in my everyday life, when I am fatigued or overwhelmed it serves as a reminder to stretch my body and calm my mind.
Downward {Facing} Dog// Whenever I have a conversation about yoga with someone who doesn’t practice, they seem to bring up the downward dog if anything. It is the one pose that many people recognize, and sometimes like to poke fun at. But while they are laughing, I am reaping the benefits of stronger arms and decreased back pain. lists other benefits including,
  • Stronger hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon
  • Decrease in back pain by strengthening the entire back and shoulder girdle
  • Elongated shoulders and shoulder blade area
  • Decrease in tension and headaches by elongating the cervical spine and neck and relaxing the head
  • Deepened respiration
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased full-body circulation
Cobra// I like to do yoga in the morning. Have you ever heard people say they work out in the morning, because then they are conscious about what they eat throughout the day? It’s a motivator to stay healthy, because you don’t want to ruin the benefits you gained from working out. Well, for me, yoga is a way to stay grounded and focused throughout the day. It is a reminder to remain calm and appreciative after my practice. The cobra involves you lifting your chest away from the ground, stretching your heart forward. With that in mind, I keep my heart open and full throughout the day.
The Art Of Living mentions benefits such as,
  • Opens up the shoulders and neck. 
  • Tones the abdomen.
  • Strengthens the entire back and shoulders.
  • Improves flexibility of the upper and middle back.
  • Expands the chest.
  • Improves blood circulation.
  • Reduces fatigue and stress.
  • Useful for people with respiratory disorders such as asthma. (Do not practice this yoga pose during the attack though).

Warrior Series// Even the name suggests strength. There is Warrior I, Humble Warrior, Warrior II, Reverse Warrior, and Warrior III. In Warrior II, I feel strength in my arms and legs. In Warrior III, I fight to balance (the more concentrated I am, the more likely I am to stay balanced). Yoga is not an extended version of stretching; there is so much more to it. It is mental, physical, philosophical, and psychological. Yoga is also about achieving courage, grace and peace.

Corpse Pose// This final pose, Shavasana, is often emphasized as the most important. Many yoga instructors encourage yogis to stay at least 3-5 minutes after the class has ended to remain in this pose to soak in the benefits of the practice. In yoga it is important to keep your focus inward. Nothing matters beyond the four corners of your mat, which includes not feeling discouraged by the practice of the people around you. It is in our nature to compare ourselves to others, but it is often destructive, and everyone is at different places. Some people are brand new, while others have been practicing for many years, so they might be able to push a little farther. This pose is meant to be even more about you. With your eyes closed, you focus on your breathing and the present moment. It is meant to be meditative and relaxing. 

Yoga: Art + Science shares benefits of these pose such as, 
• a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration.
• a decrease in blood pressure.
• a decrease in muscle tension.
• a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen.
• a reduction in general anxiety.
• a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks.
• an increase in energy levels and in general productivity.
• an improvement in concentration and in memory.
• an increase in focus.
• a decrease in fatigue, coupled with deeper and sounder sleep.
• improved self-confidence.

Via Pinterest
What helps you stay relaxed? Do have any other tips and tricks for combating stress?