Stress often creeps into our lives, even when we’re trying our hardest to keep it out. Balancing work, bills, family members, friends, romantic relationships and obligations can be difficult, and at times it can become overwhelming. Constant stress can affect your mood, thoughts, work performance, emotions and relationships, and you may not even realize it’s happening.
When you encounter a perceived threat, a tiny region at the base of your brain — the hypothalamus — sets off an alarm system in your body. Through the combination of nerve and hormonal signals, the adrenal grands are prompted to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone,attempts to aid the body by suppressing the digestive system, the reproductive system and the growth process — functions that wouldn’t be needed in a fight or flight situation.
The body’s stress response usually returns to normal when the perceived threat has passed and you allow yourself to calm, but when stressors are constantly present, that fight or flight reaction remains. The overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all of the body’s processes, putting you at risk fornumerous health problems including anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and concentration impairment.
Finding your own way to unwind and de-stress is the key to keeping negative energy out of your life. Many people have found solace in yoga, using its relaxation techniques to calm their minds and find their balance. Try these eight easy yoga poses to help flush stress hormones from your body.
1. Child’s Pose
- Kneel on a yoga mat with your legs together, sitting back on your heels.
- Hinge forward until your chest rests on your thighs and your forehead is on the floor.
- Curl your shoulders forward and let your hands rest with your palms up, next to your feet.
- Hold for five breaths.
This pose calms by allowing the resting posture to quiet the mind and ease stress. Child’s pose benefits the nervous system and lymphatic system.
2. Bridge Pose
- Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart.
- Slide your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down.
- Press your feet into the floor; inhale; lift hips while rolling your spine off of the floor.
- Press your arms and shoulders down to lift your chest and engage your legs to lift the hips higher.
- Hold for 4-8 breaths, then release on an exhale, slowly rolling your spine back to the floor.
This pose calms by providing gentle stretching of the back and legs. Bridge Pose reduces anxiety, fatigue, backaches, headaches and insomnia.