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Slow Your Roll: Yoga and Stress Management

Coming Unraveled
Stress is an inevitable part of a busy productive lifestyle, and a little stress can motivate you to get the job done. But remaining in a chronic state of high anxiety for weeks, months or even years can take a serious toll on your health, both physically and mentally. Chronic stress has been linked to obesity, heart disease, dementia, and a variety of metabolic disorders. Making sweeping lifestyle changes that remove stress from your life altogether may not be an option, but you can learn to manage stress and mitigate its harmful outcomes. The practice of yoga is one strategy that has been proven to reduce stress and improve overall health.

yoga ready
Peaceful Panacea
Yoga has been shown to have many physical benefits, according to a 2004 study published in the West Indian Medical Journal. When performed regularly, yoga can improve muscle strength, increase flexibility, facilitate blood circulation, increase oxygen uptake and improve hormone function. When it comes to stress management, the study revealed that regular yoga practitioners became more resilient to stressful conditions and saw a reduction in risk factors for various diseases, especially heart disease.
Stress Therapy
Yoga helps to lower the stress response, according to Harvard Medical School, resulting in reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure and easier respiration. Yoga has been proven to be therapeutic for those suffering from depression, dementia, PTSD and other psychological disorders. A 2012 article published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences linked yoga to an improved immune response and a reduction in joint pain.

yoga muscle man
Practice Makes Perfect
Yoga can be performed anywhere, with very few accessories. Loose, cool, non-restrictive clothing and a yoga mat or towel is all you need. Many yoga postures may seem challenging at first, but you will rapidly improve with regular practice. While you can easily do yoga at home with a DVD or download, a trained yoga instructor can help you perfect your yoga asanas, or postures, to ensure safety and reap optimal results. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends you perform yoga daily for 20 to 30 minutes. Yoga can be an important programming component for your personal training clients.

yoga practice
Resources
Helping your clients manage stress should be a fundamental consideration for any successful trainer. To learn more about stress management and lifestyle coaching, check out W.I.T.S. Fitness Coaching and Personal Trainer Certification Courses, both available online.
References and Credits
American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise
Harvard Medical School: Yoga for Anxiety and Depression.
http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

North American Journal of Medical Sciences: Physiological Effects of Yogic Practices and Transcendental Meditation in Health and Disease.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482773/

Parshad O (2004). Role of Yoga in Stress Management. West Indian Medical Journal; 53(3): 191-194.

*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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