Stress-related anxiety and depression affect millions of people worldwide, but conventional medicines are not always beneficial or preferred. Natural stress-relieving approaches make excellent alternatives. A recent review of 25 randomized, controlled studies suggests that the practice of yoga may help reduce stress. People who practice it experience better regulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system in the body. By inhibiting physiological stress and inflammation, yoga may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve mood across a range of populations. Many people turn to one particular kind of yoga for stress - hatha yoga.
Based on a centuries-old philosophy, hatha yoga encompasses a series of gentle poses, breathing exercises, and meditation. People who practice hatha yoga appreciate its ability to promote relaxation, and most practitioners experience stress-relieving benefits after just one class. Hatha yoga also contributes to overall fitness and enhances a sense of wellbeing.
According to Dr. Michael Craig Miller of Harvard Medical School, hatha yoga helps promote a calmer response in stressful situations, which means breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure do not climb. A study from Harvard examining yoga for stress relief followed a group of participants who took two 90-minute yoga classes weekly for three months. During and following the study, subjects reported lower perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and better sleep, less back pain, and fewer headaches.
People involved in a yoga study published in The Journal of Nursing Research claimed both immediate and long-term stress reduction as a result of yoga practice. Subjects reported less perceived stress after one 90-minute class and a more pronounced effect after eight weeks of classes at one 90-minute class per week. Researchers concluded that practicing yoga regularly results in better fitness and reduced stress levels.
Stress relief does not always demand medication. Approaches like yoga reduce stress naturally, but certain types of hot yoga and power yoga may prove too draining. Hatha yoga moves at a slow, relaxed pace, so beginners pick it up quickly, but it still offers plenty of challenge to more advanced practitioners. People who worry or those who have demanding jobs may want to take up hatha yoga for stress relief and many more health benefits.