When I run stress management workshops, clients often ask me which style of yoga is best for relieving stress. So, let me give you a short answer and a long answer.
The short answer is: Whatever works for you.
What works for you?
For some people a dynamic, Vinyasa or Ashtanga class allows them to release tensions and get this wonderful feel-good feeling, which happens so often after a yoga practice. For others, a technical Iyengar or Hatha yoga class might bring the same benefits. Others still enjoy most the stillness and softness of a Yin yoga class.
Preference and balance
Therefore, finding the right style of yoga that works for you is a matter of personal preference. On the other hand, it is worth keeping in mind that you chose a style of yoga, which allows you to find balance. If your life is frantic and you feel agitated and hyper, maybe a slow and gentle class allows you to calm down and relax. If the stresses in your life leave you depleted and inert, maybe a more physical and challenging class will help you feel energised and empowered. Or maybe a set of private yoga classes will better provide you with the individualised support you need.
More than practicing poses
There is of course more to stress management than practicing yoga poses.
NHS recommendations to tackling stress problems include (in addition to the all important physical activity): Healthy eating habits, good time management, me-time, learning breathing and relaxation techniques, and mindful meditation.
These recommendations are similar to what yogic texts have been recommending for a long time. Yoga contains five main elements:
- Proper exercise
- Proper breathing
- Proper relaxation
- Proper diet
- Positive thinking and meditation.
Yoga is effective for overcoming stress problems because it has many physical, mental and emotional benefits. Practicing yoga boosts the mood, teaches mindfulness, offers a broader view on life, and encourages a healthy dose of self-compassion. One of the main concepts of yoga is to learn to be non-judgemental towards ourselves and others. This is a powerful attitude as much of our stress can come from being too harsh on ourselves and too intolerant toward others.
Yoga Nidra provides me-time
For me personally, Yoga Nidra is the one yoga practice I try to do every single day in order to stay on top of things. I easily feel torn between the various and often conflicting demands put upon me by others. A brief 20 minute Yoga Nidra practice allows me to take time out, to connect with myself, and to feel refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.
If you want to experience Yoga Nidra and learn more about Yoga for managing stress, come to my next workshop. See you there?