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Stress and Physical Health: How to Use Yoga to De-Stress
By April Clark, Owner of Second Wind Eco Tours & Yoga
The New Year is upon us and we are encouraged to take an active role in our health and wellness. More and more we hear about the damaging effects of stress on our physical health and how exercise and food can play a part in mitigating and preventing it. Yoga is an excellent choice for de-stressing while inviting movement into the body.
What happens when we are stressed? The body begins to increase production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is necessary to the body when we are injured or in a life or death situation, for survival and healing. It is also produced when we are late for an appointment or become overwhelmed by having too many things on our proverbial plate. Our brain thinks we are in an emergency situation, and our muscles tense, our breathing patterns change and our blood pressure rises. The effects of stress on the body take their toll and according to research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, often turn into heart disease.
The practice of yoga can help reduce stress, because it promotes relaxation. Yoga integrates meditation, breathing techniques and exercise to combat stress. Through the practice of yoga, one is encouraged to relax, slow the breath and focus on body sensations. These actions help to shift the balance from the fight and flight response (sympathetic nervous system) to a calm and restorative state (parasympathetic system). In this state, the heart rate slows, blood pressure lowers and cortisol level is reduced.
Never tried yoga? Feeling stressed? Unwind and try this gentle yoga posture for 5-15 minutes, reaping some or all of the benefits.
Legs up the Wall is a restorative and relaxing, gentle inversion. Benefits include:
· Eases anxiety and stress
· Is therapeutic for arthritis, headaches, high blood pressure, low blood pressure and insomnia
· Relieves tired and cramped legs and feet
· Gently stretches hamstrings, legs and lower back
· Calms the mind