I know you’re used to hearing from me about the latest in the raw foods and health movements, but I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about stress reduction. You can be eating all the right foods and following my plans perfectly, but if your mind and body are constantly under stress, it’s not going to do you as much good as it can.
One of the best ways to counteract stress is to exercise. We’ve talked before about the importance of daily exercise. Now, I want you to consider doing yoga as part of your exercise plan. Yoga is a great way to exercise because it utilizes all of the different muscle groups of the body and helps keep you flexible and toned and less prone to injury. But, more importantly, it’s meant to be a way to prepare your mind for relaxation and meditation.
The deep breathing that accompanies each yoga pose is intended to clear your mind and get you to focus on the physical movements you are doing. In the process, your body responds by releasing the tension and stress you might not even realize you have. Let’s try a simple exercise right now. As you are reading this line, breathe in deeply through your nose at a count of four. Hold slightly, and then release your breath slowly through your nose at a count of four again. You might already be feeling a sense of relief!
That’s because yoga has physical and mental benefits. It helps lower your blood pressure and heart rate and increase your intake of oxygen. As a result, you feel less anxious and tense. As your body gains strength and flexibility, you experience a slowing in the aging process and an enhanced feeling of well being.
Although some practitioners want you to believe that yoga is hard or mysterious, it really isn’t. In fact, like the breathing exercise you just did, you probably have already naturally done some yoga poses without even knowing it! Yoga involves stretching the body and forming different poses while breathing slowly and steadily. You feel relaxed yet energized at the same time. There are many different types of yoga, some which involves moving through the poses quickly (often referred to as *power yoga*), which other types require you to stretch deeply into a pose and hold it before moving on to the next pose.
Most yoga classes at fancy studios last 90 minutes, with about 60 minutes devoted to doing all of the poses and 20 to 30 minutes meditating. I know that sounds like a long time, but you can get some of the same benefits from doing just 20 minutes of yoga poses and 10 minutes of relaxation/meditation. So why not give yoga a try today?