Why do you practice yoga?
Is it for the workout? The community? The mental recharge? Regardless of why you started, one of the main benefits of regular yoga practice is stress management.
Stress is a normal part of everyday life, but when left unacknowledged or unmanaged, it can have a serious impact on not only your mind, but also your body. From mild discomfort to chronic aches and pains, stress is not just a mental game. It’s important to understand how it affects your body in order to process it properly and ensure a healthy, pain-free lifestyle.
Take a look at these six ways stress affects your body:
Holistic practices like yoga can help cleanse your body of toxins and help you settle into a regular routine. If you start feeling symptoms like nausea, upset stomach or constipation, your body may be fighting off excess stress. If left unmanaged, this can elevate to more serious digestive issues, such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis or stomach ulcers.
Check with your doctor if your symptoms don’t resolve after you’ve attempted some stress management methods on your own.
Bone and muscle conditions
Stress can cause a crazy amount of strain on your muscles and bones, as we tend to hold that tension in our neck and shoulders. If left untreated or unmanaged, this pain can turn into arthritis or other chronic pain conditions.
Yoga is perfect for relieving tension from your muscles, as well as realigning and strengthening your bone structure.
Finally, having too much stress can cause your blood pressure and blood sugar to escalate, leading to serious conditions like diabetes and kidney disease. Your muscles release waste called creatinine, which is filtered out of your blood through your kidneys. If there is too much waste in your blood caused by stress, your kidneys will be working overtime.
If you’re concerned about how well your body is managing stress, you can begin looking at your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a measurement of how well your kidneys are cleaning your blood. Learn how to calculate GFR from creatinine with online tools and resources, or by consulting your doctor.
Headaches and migraines
Have you ever walked into a yoga class with a raging headache and left pain-free? It’s the best. When you’re over-stressed, your muscles tense up, most likely causing a tension headache or migraine. Everyday noises may irritate you, making your headache worse and causing even more stress.
Yoga and other meditative practices can help lessen or eliminate the tension that causes your headaches. If you experience more chronic or debilitating pain, you should visit your doctor for further treatment or stress management support.
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep each night, especially if you like to get an early start to the day. In order to recharge and have enough energy throughout the day, it’s crucial to get at least a few deep sleep cycles in. When you’re over-stressed, your mind is probably racing and keeping you up at night. This causes irritability, fatigue, frustration and loss of productivity throughout the day.
If you have trouble sleeping, it may mean that you have too much stress.
Sickness and lowered immune system
If you can’t seem to shake that cold that’s going around, you could be over-stressed. When your body releases the stress hormone it creates to deal with the crisis at hand, it suppresses your body’s immune system and lowers its defense against viruses, bacteria and disease.
If you’re struggling to get and stay healthy, try boosting your vitamin C intake and assessing your stress level.
Among their many benefits, yoga, meditation and holistic practices that promote mindfulness can help prevent these physical effects of stress. If you’re looking for a way to enrich your life and eliminate unnecessary anxiety or tension in your body, consider adding yoga into your regular routine.
Jenny Hart is a health and wellness writer with a passion for travel, cycling and books. Her focus is topics related to the effects of aging on health and she is interested in research that can help people age better.
When she isn’t writing or travelling, she’s traversing NYC with her two dogs Poochie and Ramone.
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