430.000 Danes experience serious stress-related symptoms each day. Whereas a little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about, the consequences of chronic stress are often underestimated. Stress can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal problems, eating disorders; skin and hair problems, as well as anxiety and depression.
So what can you do when you have been stressed for a long period of time?
Stress coaching is a good solution as it is a holistic approach to reduce and manage stress. It includes advice and exercises to relieve stress, effective tools to identify and learn to tackle stress triggers and coaching to prevent stress from coming back. It is the perfect method to help you make the necessary changes in your life to become stress-free.
However, one of the best ally to stress coaching is yoga. I usually recommend my clients on the first stress coaching session to start practicing yoga. When it comes to reducing stress, yoga is always a good solution. While exercising is a very useful way to relieve stress, yoga is different from swimming or running. With regular yoga practice, our stress hormone levels drop and our heart rate variability increases, which is a measure of our ability to tolerate stress. This has been shown to improve even after a few sessions of yoga. Science shows that over 85% of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress.
The 6 wonders of yoga:
1) Stretches tensions away
Working on a computer 8 to 10 hours a day, creates tensions in our body. The stretching induced by yoga poses releases tension from problem areas, such as lower back, neck and shoulders.
2) Clears the Mind
Our minds are constantly active, racing from one thought to another, spinning possible scenarios for the future, dwelling on incidents from the past. All this mind work is tiring and stressful. Yoga poses are very physical and require such concentration, that all other thoughts and worries are put to the side, giving your brain a good rest. The breathing exercises also called "pranayama" and meditation are also a great help to letting go.
3) Encourages us to be in the present
Yoga is also good for taming our monkey minds and inviting us to be in the present. At the beginning of each yoga class, we are asked to leave behind everything that we need to do after the class and be in the present moment. During the class, we are encouraged to focus on our breathing and on feeling the effects of yoga in our body. Focusing on each inhale and exhale to the exclusion of other thoughts is a good way to bring us in the present.
4) Calms the nervous-system
Breathing exercises are an important part of yoga practice. Each pose is accompanied with breathing. In Flow yoga, every movement is combined with an inhalation or an exhalation. Yoga increases our awareness of the breath as a tool for relaxing the body. It teaches us to breath slowly and deeply through the tummy. Although breathing is involuntary, breathing is a powerful tool to restore the balance of our nervous system. Learning to take deep breaths through the nose and realizing that this can be a quick way to combat stressful situations is amazingly effective.
5) Connects body and mind
Yoga’s fundamental principle is that our body and mind are one and connected. Therefore, stress in one domain will affect the other and vice versa. For example, people with very analytical careers may spend a lot of time in their mind, and may not realize how much tension is stored in their body. Yoga encourages us to focus on how each movement feels in our body. Yoga is not about doing it right, but feeling the effect of a pose. When doing yoga, you are invited to listen to your body. It moves the focus from our mind to our body.
6) Helps you relax
Each yoga sessions ends with time spent relaxing in corpse-pause also called “savasana”. While this enforced relaxation can be difficult at first, eventually it serves the purpose of a total let go for both body and mind. Savasana transitions you back into the world feeling refreshed and equipped with the tools to combat stress in your daily life.
There are many different types of yoga: some are slow and more focused on stretching, others are fast and more of a workout. If you are looking to relieve stress, no one yoga style is superior, so pick one that meets your level of physical fitness and personality. Any yoga exercises will help relieve stress by keeping the body healthy and releasing endorphins, natural hormones that make you feel better.
When we start feeling more peaceful and balanced than stress coaching will be able to work in depth with our stress. It will focus on identifying the root cause of our stress and enable an understanding of our stress triggers. Thanks to open questions and targeted exercises, stress coaching help us find our own solutions to put an end to our stress. It will also provide us some hands-on tools to avoid stress in the future.
My experience as a stress coach, has shown that when combining yoga and stress coaching, we have much better chances to regain a stress-free life. Are you ready to take on the challenge?