• Aoife McHugh

De-Stress yourself: YTT Module 6

For me, yoga practice is like a little any-time-of-the day-vacay. An hour when my mind may wander, but ultimately I am focused on the mat at hand. In addition to stretching, it sets me on a quest to quell stress and strife in my life.

It is not a magical solution but I believe yoga has the power to detoxify the mind. I have previously written about the breath and its ability to dissolve stress. I highly rate guided meditation in addition to this. In this post I will explore how yoga can help those who suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. While medical treatment should always take precedence, the yoga mat is a useful accoutrement.

Yoga for Stress

The effects of stress are manifold. I'm surprised there wasn't a Batman villain based on this multifarious menace alone, such is its ability to wreak havoc on humans. From weight gain to mood swings, stress is the true antithesis of a many-splendored thing. Yoga calms the body allowing it to rest and digest, bringing it into a parasympathetic state.

How can you do this? Here a few simple ways:

  • Long meditation

  • Calming Panayamas such as Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) and belly breathing.

  • Slow down the practice, favor forward folds (rest the forehead on a block or bolster) this will calm the mind by putting pressure on the third eye.

  • Use props to provide a sensation of security and support.

  • Postures: supported (such as Child's Pose.) Hip openers to release stuck emotions. Twists stimulate digestion and detox the body.

Yoga for Anxiety

When someone is experiencing anxiety, their mind is overly active and busy, therefore it is important to bring them into the present moment.

What should feature in this type of practice?

  • Grounding, this will bring balance to the body and encourage the mind to reside in the present. This can be done through guided meditation, where the mind is occupied and the person is constantly reminded to focus on their practice. Be aware of sensory triggers that might be linked to a past trauma. Choose your words wisely.

  • Calming Panayamas as mentioned above.

  • Asanas: very slow flow combining breath and movement. Combine complex movements with the breath and ensure the student is being challenged in a stable way. Balancing postures allow students to ground themselves. Arm balances are good for more advanced students as they can be quite calming.

Yoga for Depression

A medical professional should always be the first port of call but for those who suffer from mild depression, yoga can be very beneficial.

The following are some suggestions:

  • Active, energizing practice (vigorous sun salutations) Yoga-HITT

  • Asanas: Warrior poses/arm balances/Headstand or Vipariti Karani with blocks/some Heart Openers/mantras.

  • Pranayama: Kapalabhati/Bastrika (detox)

  • Naga Vayu (releasing negative energy)

With around 60,000 thoughts a day, our brain is as busy as the New York Subway system. We can either allow our train of thought to act on autopilot or we can take time to stop it in its tracks. Guided meditation allows you to take control of your own path, reducing the effects of anxiety and minimizing its wrath. For mild depression, meditation is not recommended, vigorous practice is key. While yoga should never replace medical treatment, it an amazing alternative remedy.

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©2020 by Aoife Mchugh.