The celebrated blend of breath, body and meditation – the practice of yoga – has relaxed and reinvigorated devotees for centuries. While the customs and techniques have evolved through time and culture, the underlying benefits remain the same: restored calm, reduced stress, and a revitalized body.
At its core, yoga will always maintain roots in the spiritual practices of ancient civilizations. However, an extensive array of diverse class environments has blossomed in recent years, making it possible for stressed-out people of every personality and body type to find a class that makes them comfortable and facilitates relaxation.
To get the most out of yoga for stress relief, experiment with several class variants to find the best possible match. Considerations include:
This encompasses the sights, sounds, and emotion of the class. Music can range from silence, to traditional instrumental tracks, to high-volume pop or rock. Classes can be completed in near darkness, with candlelight, or even in bright sunshine. Yet other practices use aromatherapy, incorporating relaxing scents such as lavender and vanilla. Finding the right combination of factors is key to reducing stress and maximizing yoga’s physical benefits.
The temperature of the yoga classroom will have a tremendous impact on your experience. For participants who warm slowly, a heated class will expedite the body’s ability to perform more challenging poses. If that’s the case for you, look for Bikram yoga classes, which typically use rooms heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a class that’s too hot for you may cause discomfort, dehydration, or even fainting – obviously not the best way to relieve stress!
New yoga participants might not realize the wide pacing options available in classes. Some are geared for slow, methodical, long-term poses which maximize breathing and stretching. Some classes are fast-paced to enhance strength and cardiovascular endurance in addition to balance, flexibility, and focus. And many classes are hybrids, where flows are taught collectively at first, and then individuals proceed at their own pace.
Yoga Is Practice!
Yoga uses the term “practice” for a reason: the journey is ongoing with no definable perfection. Regardless of which combination of class variables works best for you, the intention is always the same: Leave worldly thoughts behind. Focus inward on breathing. Focus physically on movement. Feel the peacefulness return. Feel the stress dissipate.
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