Stress is a form of physical or emotional tension everyone will go through at one point or the other in this lifetime. The question is how do we manage stress and anxiety, so it doesn't take a toll on our physical and internal health and state of mind?
Well, Yoga is a form of exercise that has proven to help reduce stress and anxiety with its proper application. You don't have to wait to feel stressed out to do yoga. You can practice it daily to help you relax or at the slightest sign of feeling stressed or anxious.
Yoga is fast becoming popular in Nigeria and a lot of Nigerians sought it. Many gyms are now offering yoga classes to their interested members due to its high demand nowadays. It is usually guaranteed you will work out of a yoga class feeling empowered and relax.
People who often practice yoga have learnt how to relax and focus on what truly matters – their breath and heartbeat. It is relaxing and scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, manage chronic ailments and reduce stress.
Yoga doesn’t require a lot of equipment - a simple yoga mat is all you need to learn the secrets of the anti-stress techniques taught by this ancestral art.
Some Statistics On Stress In Nigeria
In a recent report and research done in Nigeria, it was estimated that 7 million Nigerians are currently suffering from mental health problems associated with stress and depression. However, Work-related stress is a lot more prevalent than you might think in these statistics.
Most surveys concentrate on stress at the workplace. But work-related stress also affects your private life and your general sense of well-being. Depression is a common mental health problem affecting 29 million in Africa out of an estimated 322 million people worldwide. Stress is definitely real and must be curbed at the earliest sign possible.
A lot of people in Nigeria are affected by stress, in short, the numbers skyrocketed during the outburst of the pandemic where a lot of jobs were lost, loved ones were sick or dies, properties were lost due to the inability to pay up on some debts and so on.
If you go to the doctor’s, you generally won’t tell him you are suffering from stress. We refuse to admit to ourselves that we are stressed out.
Major symptoms of a stressed-out individual include persistently sad moods, loss of pleasure in usual activities, feeling of helplessness and guilt or worthlessness.
Others are, fatigue or decreased energy, loss of memory and concentration, loss of decision-making capability, poor abstract reasoning, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance and loss in appetite or weight. Yet, it is with these symptoms that you show up on your doctor’s doorstep.
The seventh-largest country in the world, Nigeria has Africa's highest caseload of depression and ranks 15th in the world in the frequency of suicide, according to WHO.
Stress affects about 4 out of 10 employees.
Some major causes of stressful life conditions in Nigeria include poverty and short life expectancy and negative life events such as bereavement, job loss, financial difficulties, divorce, loneliness, childhood abuse and neglect medical illnesses and exposure to chronic pains as well as imbibing some mentally stressful lifestyles such as misuse of certain prescription drugs and abuse of substances such as cocaine, narcotics and alcohol.
Yoga: A Great Way To Relieve Stress
Yoga can help reduce stress because it promotes relaxation, which is the natural opposite of stress. Taking yoga lessons is an ideal solution for learning to deal with stress. Regular yoga practice allows you to achieve a level of calmness and serenity that will help you to relax and let go of your anxiety.
Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve the peacefulness of body and mind which in return will help you relax and manage stress and anxiety. Several studies as proven its effectiveness to enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
It also helps you manage your symptoms of depression and anxiety that are due to difficult situations. This is why it continues to grow in popularity as people daily experience its physical and mental benefits.
The interesting thing about this form of relaxation and exercise habit is that it promotes the release of mood-boosting endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones that can positively affect how you handle stress.
Yoga requires diligence and discipline, like any other good thing you want to achieve in this life. You have to give something of yourself for it but get so much back in return. Like the saying goes, No pain, No gain. The good thing about Yoga is that the more you are at it, the easier and better you become at it.
Yoga Poses For Stress
The benefits of yoga to the overall general well-being cannot be overemphasized. There are some Yoga exercises you can easily do at home or at the office at the slightest feeling of being stressed.
There are a whole lot of Yoga poses for stress; but let us just discuss a few below that can easily be done and will relax you in less than 10 minutes.
Balasana (Child’s pose)
Bālāsana, Child's Pose, or Child's Resting Pose is a kneeling asana in modern yoga as exercise.
This position stretches the thighs, hips and ankles and helps relax the body and mind. It is beneficial for your lymphatic system and nervous system. It also relieves neck and back pain.
How to do the pose:
- Kneel and sit on your heels
- Then bend forward till your chest touches your thighs
- Next, rest your hands on your side
- Hold this position as long as possible and breathe deeply.
Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
This will help relieve mild depression, fatigue and stress. It will help calm your brain and stimulate your kidneys and liver. It will also strengthen your knees and stretch your hips, thighs, calves and hamstring.
How to do the pose:
- Stand straight and bend forward.
- Stretch your body to touch your palms to the ground.
- Straighten your legs for a deeper stretch.
- Hold this position for three to four deep breaths
- Then whilst inhaling, stretch arms outwards and raise them and your torso back to the standing position
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
This type of yoga will stretch your spine, hamstring and lower back. Apart from relieving stress, this pose will ease the symptoms of PMS, improves digestion, stimulate the liver, reduce fatigue and relieves symptoms of menopause.
How to do the pose:
- Sit down with your feet extended forward.
- Now bend forward till your stomach touches your thighs.
- Hold your feet with your hands.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and then return to the original position
The Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The chair pose improves breathing, helps protect the knee joint by building stability. It also strengthens the supporting muscles of the major joints, such as the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. The pose can also help improve your posture. If you commit to a steady practice, you will gain stamina in this pose after a few months. For this pose, basically, you are pretending to sit in a chair.
How to do the pose:
- Stand straight with your feet together
- Bend your knees while pushing your buttocks out
- Put your hands together and raise your arms over your head as though they are an extension of your spine
- Hold the pose for three full breaths, keeping your abdominal muscles taut and your heels on the yoga mat.
Taking a 10-20-Minutes Yoga Lesson After a Stressful Day
If you have a little more time after a stressful day at work or in school, or if you have a presentation, examination or an event coming up that you are nervous about or you just feel like relaxing your nerves, why not take an online yoga course?
There are several YouTube videos with relaxation routines that you could use for a 10-20 minutes Yoga lesson. You can as well contact any of our Yoga instructors on Superprof to help you with some routine exercises if you need an interactive session.
Other Tips and Tricks for Using the Idea of Yoga for Stress Relief
There are other tips and tricks gotten from the incorporation of yoga that can be best used daily especially if you are at work or in the middle of a stressful situation. You may not always have access to a mat or be in a position or situation to do some of the Yoga poses we talked about or the other ones available.
In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). Abdominal breathing is one of the fundamental principles of yoga. All its relaxation exercises are based on proper breathing. Deep breathing, called “pranayama” in yoga (literally: “life force”), brings extra oxygen into the system, helping the body relax.
Deep breaths are more efficient: they allow your body to fully exchange incoming oxygen with outgoing carbon dioxide. They help slow the heartbeat, lower or stabilize blood pressure, help calm your nerves, reduce stress and anxiety. It can also help you improve your attention span and lower pain levels
This has long been a part of yoga meditation and is a central aspect of Yoga Nidra. In this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus.
While sitting in a comfortable position, close your eyes and visualise a peaceful scene (a beach, a forest, your upcoming holidays…) You can also think about a future goal to reaffirm your self-image and bring yourself peace and a feeling of well-being. There are free apps and online recordings of calming scenes and music that can aid this form of relaxation —just make sure to choose imagery you find soothing and that has personal significance.
This technique involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind's attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future. You solely focus on the now while using this yoga tip.
It can be done at any time of the day whether you are on the go, at work or in school. This form of meditation has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years and it is usually helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.
How Often Should You Practice Yoga for Stress And Anxiety?
Just like any new thing you aim at starting, constant practice makes you better. The same applies to Yoga, the more often you practice, the greater the benefits you get from doing it.
To get started, it's helpful to commit to practice regularly (3-5 times weekly) for a certain amount of weeks and then re-evaluate. This will help get you into the habit and lets you get stronger physically.
You can dedicate 10-20 minutes 3 times weekly by just watching some videos online and also take some time during your busy schedule to practice some of the tips and tricks listed above.
To fight stress and truly appreciate the benefits of yoga, daily practice is best even if it is just for 5 minutes.
Other benefits of yoga you can read up on:
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