Yoga and Meditation for Stress Relief


There are never enough hours in the day. When will I get to rest? I’m behind schedule. I still have so much to do today. I can’t sleep. I’m worried. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t think. I’m stressed!  

Does this sound like you? Maybe, or maybe not, but we all deal with stress and feeling overwhelmed sometimes. No matter what’s going on in your life or what  kind of stresses you’re dealing with, it’s absolutely necessary to take time (even just a little time) out of your day to decompress.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure that you’re at your best, mentally and physically. Just let go and just be.

To relax, maybe you like going for walks, or listening to music, or just lounging with a tub of ice cream and Seinfeld reruns. Sometimes, there may be days you feel like you need something else to decompress – something more. Meditation and yoga are ways you may or may not have considered yet to help clear your head and relax your body, mind and soul.

Many people regard meditation as mystical, mysterious and maybe even a little odd. In the simplest terms possible, meditation is merely quieting the mind. Nothing so odd about that, right? Think of it like cleaning off a dirty chalkboard. You can fill it so full until you eventually run out of room to write anything else! Well, you probably won’t run out of room in your mind, but the point is to “clean out the cobwebs” every now and then. Meditation doesn’t have to take hours. Only a few minutes a day of peace, quiet and calm can help you prepare for your busiest schedules, or just help you enjoy each day more. When the mind is less cluttered, you may notice you’re able to find more joy in the little things, because it’s the little things that matter most!
Want to give it a try? The best way to try out meditation is to first make sure you are in a comfortable, quiet place. Maybe sit in your favorite chair or recline in a relaxed position on the sofa. I do not recommend lying down your first time because you might fall asleep! The point is to be awake, but have a relaxed, “sleeping” mind. If soothing sounds help you de-stress, put on your favorite calming CD. I suggest ocean waves, soft piano songs or any other type of soothing, ambient sounds or music. Now it’s time to breathe. The best way to get the mind’s focus off the 100 things it’s thinking about is to make it focus on one thing: the breath. Listen to the gentle inhale and exhale of your own breathing. If you have a fleeting thought about errands you have to run, simply acknowledge you had that thought, and go back to focusing on your breathing. Remind yourself that it’s okay to let go for just a little while. Spending even just 10 minutes a day in quietude can help you think more clearly, function better and be happier.
People of all ages can benefit from the tranquil practice of yoga. If you have time to go to a yoga studio and check it out before trying a class, definitely do so. There are many different kinds of yoga to enjoy and the people who work in yoga studios are generally more than happy to help newcomers understand what it’s about. I can assure you that I am not that flexible nor am I that strong, but I still go to yoga on occasion to mix things up and bring myself to a higher level of relaxation. 

One type of yoga that is particularly good for decompressing is the hatha style. It mostly focuses on breathing, calming the mind and gentle, basic poses. Another type of yoga is vinyasa yoga, also called flow yoga, which focus on vinyasas, or a series of movements. Vinyasa yoga also focuses on the breath. Make sure you tell the instructor you are new to yoga and would like attend a class for beginners.
If you are scared of doing it “wrong,” don’t be. If you want to give it a try, the key is to do your best – it is your yoga session that you have chosen to participate in to benefit yourself. Chances are, the yoga instructor will be more than willing to assist you. Some yoga studios even may offer private sessions. You can even buy yoga DVD’s to do in the privacy of your own home if going to a studio is out of your budget or comfort zone.
Whatever it is you like to do to relieve stress, make sure you do it regularly. Life can easily become overwhelming if we don’t slow down every now and then. Take time to “smell the roses;” you’ll thank yourself for it later!



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