Category : Yoga

How Yoga Helps Alleviate Stress

The modern world is faced with stress.

We always seem to be rushing here, there and everywhere in an attempt to juggle work with home and family.

It is no surprise that we end up stressed.

Being too wrung out can only lead to susceptibility to illness as well as a constant feeling of being tired and snappy with those around us.

Thankfully there are several things we can do to help ourselves cope better with the stresses of daily life and yoga is one of them.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why yoga can help alleviate stress.

Taking time out

The first and most significant thing we can do to rest the soul and brain is to take time out.

Practising yoga requires us to stop and focus on something different.

In a class, concentration will be needed, and the nature of the exercises combined with the breathing will make relaxing and letting go irresistible.

Sitting on your yoga mat becomes your island away from the worries of money, what you might cook, where you might go that weekend.

That part of your brain needs to be turned off, and yoga encourages you to seek mental quiet.

Calming the thoughts and shut out all extraneous chatter that pops into your mind forces you to focus on the yoga and nothing else.

This is good for the body and lowers the levels of stress hormones.

Breathing patterns

Generally when we race around in life breathing is just an automatic function.

It isn’t something we consciously think about it just happens.

Yoga has some particular breathing exercises that are deliberately contrived to work on our breathing patterns.

It may come as a surprise to learn that most people breathe in a much shallower way than the lungs can cope with.

Fully expanding the lungs and learning how to breathe correctly means that the body becomes calmer and there is more oxygen circulating the body which again helps with the battle of stress.

Shallow breathing mimics the fight or flight response which is not a state we can continuously maintain without suffering, so it is essential we learn to use our lungs to their full capacity, and this will, in turn, lead to lower levels of stress.

Release tensions

All forms of exercise are useful for releasing tension from the body, but something like yoga is particularly beneficial.

It encourages the lengthening of the limbs and allows the body to return to a more natural state before life took hold.

Being under stress can lead to hunched shoulders, sore necks and bad backs.

Improved posture allows the body to hold a better position which in turn means carrying ourselves better.

This places less stress on the body so pressure can be released and in turn pain levels and stiffness should decrease.

This is a positive cycle of activity and the longer you practice yoga, the longer and leaner your muscles will become.

This means that you will be able to stop carrying the stresses in your body because you have successfully learned to release them.

Why Yoga Is Good For The Brain

The ancient practice of yoga originated in India approximately 5,000 years ago and today it is one of the most popular ways to relax and exercise.

Yoga is for everyone, you don’t need to be super fit to start and you can increase the tempo as you become more adept at the poses and breathing exercises.

What you might not know is how good yoga can be for your brain.

Read on to discover five yoga poses that can boost your brain power.


Also known as Seated Forward Bend – gently stretches out the spine.

This in turn can lead to a relief from stress by relaxing your mind, as the pose helps to remove damaging negative emotions like anger or irritability.

Halasana is the Plow Pose

This one isn’t for beginners but once you’ve mastered it, look forward to the benefits of improved blood flow to the brain.

This means it can help calm your nervous system and aid sleep.

The Plow will stretch both the back and the neck, reducing stress and tiredness.

Setu Bandhasana

Also stretches the neck and spine to relax those tight muscles and get your blood circulation pumping to your brain and keeping it healthy.

The Bridge pose is relatively easy to do, and with practise you’ll hold the pose for longer and reap the benefits of a calmer disposition which can help against illnesses like depression.

The Shoulder Stand

Sarvangasana is certainly one to master as you improve your yoga abilities.

This pose is said to regulate the function of both the thyroid and parathyroid glands leading to improved brain function.

Cognitive functions will also be improved along with the pineal and hypothalamus glands benefitting from the increased blood flow to your brain.

Bhramari Pranayama

This pose is more commonly known as Humming Bee Breathing.

This breathing technique has the ability to instantly calm and focus your brain.

By placing your fingers in your ears and taking deep breathes while making a buzzing sound you’ll free your mind of stress, agitation and even anger.

It is also claimed that the calming of your brain cells and nerves can help to alleviate common complaints like migraines or problems with blood pressure.

Another great advantage of this one is the improvement to concentration and memory.

With any form of exercise it’s always good to start simple and learn the ropes – a good yoga class will also be a great way to meet new people and work on your Chakra.

A Brief History Of Yoga

Yoga is world-famous, practised internationally as a means of gaining greater spiritual connections and boosting overall health and well-being.

However even those who rely on yoga may not know it’s historic roots -– here’s our quick guide to yoga’s lengthy past…

Yoga’s early beginnings

The earliest teachings of yoga followed the oral tradition of passing on the practice, so there is limited physical evidence from this time.

The earliest known writings concerning yogic practice were written on leaves, which made them very fragile and have ultimately led to their loss.

However, yoga’s development can be traced back some 5,000 years – though there is dispute of this rough date amongst researchers, some of whom believe yoga could in fact be much older than this.

Regardless of this dispute, there is no denying that yoga in some form has been around for a very, very long time.

Early developments

Yoga’s beginnings in the form we now understand were developed in Northern India around 5,000 years ago.

The word yoga is first mentioned in the sacred text, Rigveda.

Yogic practice was then refined, slowly and over many years, documented in scripture and early texts as yoga developed.

During this period in history, yoga was still a combination of different ideas which had not yet taken on a recognisable format.

It was not until the Yoga-Sutra by Patanjali that yoga as we know it today began to take shape.

Later developments

Some centuries later, yoga masters began to create practices designed with the goal of rejuvenation and spiritual connection.

The physical body was now viewed as a means of achieving enlightenment, with yoga as the central conduit to achieving this state of bliss and harmony.

Many different forms of yoga developed over time, from more extreme and physically exerting variations using radical techniques, to calmer and more centred practices which further explored the physical and spiritual connection.

Modern yoga

From the late 1800s onwards, yoga masters travelled the west, gathered plenty of followers wherever they went.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Hatha Yoga was popular, with schools opening in 1924 and 1936. Prolific authors such as Swami Sivananda wrote over 200 books on yoga, allowing the practice and its key tenets to become even more widespread.

Today, yoga is practiced around the world with over 100 different yoga schools available, each with their own unique take on this ancient spiritual practice.

5 Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know About Yoga

The spiritual, mental and physical practice of yoga originated in ancient India.

While yoga in general is well-known and practiced worldwide, we’ve gathered together a few fascinating facts you may not have heard about this popular practice…

1) There is an international yoga day

First held in 2015, International Yoga Day is celebrated worldwide on 21st June.

The event is commonly known as Yoga Day, and was first suggested by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a UN address.

The date is significant, as 21st June is the longest day of the year within the northern hemisphere, giving this date importance around the world.

To celebrate the first International Yoga Day, the Indian Postal Service released a special commemorative stamp, while 2016 saw ‘The National Event of Mass Yoga Demonstration’ held in India on Yoga Day.

2) Yoga has been used to treat psychiatric patients

A form of yoga therapy, referred to as Integrated Yoga Therapy, has been found to have a positive effect upon the behaviour and social functioning of psychiatric patients, with the possibility to help reduce symptoms of some major psychiatric disorders.

While the calming effect of yoga is well-known by practitioners and devotees, findings of a 2013 study discovered that yoga also appeared to have a positive effect on mild depression and sleep problems, as well as aiding symptoms of disorders such as schizophrenia and ADHD.

3) You can try dog yoga

Those of us with beloved pets can take them along to Doga, a form of yoga developed by New York practitioner Suzi Teitelman to help strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners.

4) There are over 100 different schools of yoga

Each one has its own specific practices and principles, though they all strive to attain the same goal of oneness and harmony with the universe.

5) Yoga’s health benefits might surprise you

Whether you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, or it’s entirely new to you, the health benefits of the discipline will still be staggering.

Ancient yogis believed we only had a certain number of breaths in each lifetime, leading to the creation of yoga’s carefully cultivated breathing exercises.

The breathing exercises within yoga have been found to improve mood significantly, but even more impressively, yoga can actually enhance your lifespan due to its positive effect on stress-associated disorders, and vital organs such as the lungs and heart.

Yoga is therefore a practice suitable for all ages to benefit from, and can be started from any level of fitness.