It’s time for you to stop feeling like crap. Because you can. How? Give yoga a try.
It’s easy and you can start today.
In this post I’ll explore a little of the research behind how yoga can help you with everything from stress, anxiety, and depression, to pain and diabetes. Then, I give you some great yoga videos I’ve collected from around the internets, showing you how to fit yoga into any part of your day where you see fit.
I have personally done all of these videos and I’ve fallen in love with them. Try a relaxing morning session, or give yoga at your desk a try. Whatever you do, there’s a session here to suit your ability and time-frame.
I’ve spoken before about how to be gentle with your anxiety, relax into weight-loss, and use food and digestion to help with depression. Here is another lifestyle change you can use to relax, recharge, and regain your balance.
But don’t just take my word for it. Before we get to the videos, let’s look at some research into yoga and it’s benefits.
Isn’t yoga just for flexible people? Thin people? Healthy people? Hippies?
Quite the contrary! Yoga is for everyone – big, small, old, young, man, woman, sick, well, and everything in between. It’s primarily a ‘balancing’ practice and has been the subject of a lot of positive research to do with anxiety, depression, stress-reduction, pain, and aging well.
Below I’ve outlined some of the research into the ways yoga can positively benefit you.
There are many studies documenting both anecdotal and clinically measurable benefits from yoga practice. Some find that it’s the meditation and breathing aspects that work wonders, while other research focuses on increased strength, blood flow, and stretching, and others find that the social aspects of a yoga class are great too. As these researchers point out: “numerous empirical studies have found a beneficial effect of yoga on different aspects of physical and psychological functioning”
For example, this study found yoga is excellent for health management and rehabilitation. Similarly, this research compared yoga to more ‘traditional’ kinds of exercise and found that yoga has a variety of desirable health outcomes, sometimes more than that of ‘traditional’ exercise. They say their results “seem to indicate that, in both healthy and diseased populations, yoga may be as effective as or better than exercise at improving a variety of health-related outcome measures.” – Though I’m not sure why yoga isn’t counted as ‘exercise’ in this study, their results do show that you don’t have to punish yourself with intense exercise to look and feel good.
Specific ways yoga can help you
Existing health conditions: I’m excited that one study found significant results that “demonstrated that the yoga is effective in reducing the blood glucose levels in patients with T2DM [type 2 diabetes].” So, not only can yoga relax you, and keep you healthy and fit, but it can help manage and treat existing health conditions like metabolic syndrome, which is just awesome!
Brain: This study proposes that “…yoga contributes to protect the brain against age-related decline.” And they suggest “…that yoga tunes the brain toward a parasympatically driven mode and positive states.” (In other words, a relaxation response). This study tentatively suggests similar findings. Basically, they’ve found that the more relaxed you can get in daily life, the better off your brain will be, and that yoga can help a lot.
Pain: Some research has shown that yoga can also help with chronic pain. This study looked at lower back pain, specifically, and found that patients who started practising yoga saw some great short-term results in reducing their pain, and that there was evidence this could work long-term too.
Stress: One respected doctor in the holistic health and wellness field, Dr Sara Gottfried, wrote that “Unlike high-impact exercise which increases cortisol, your main stress hormone, yoga lowers it. For stressed-out people, yoga provides a form of exercise that prevents hormones from going haywire and keeps cortisol in check.”
To get scientific for a moment, one great study I looked at stated that “Adopting yoga/meditation-based lifestyle modification causes reversal of markers of aging, mainly oxidative stress, telomerase activity, and oxidative DNA damage. This may not only delay aging and prolong a youthful healthy life but also delay or prevent onset of several lifestyle-related diseases, of which oxidative stress and inflammation are the chief cause. This report suggests this simple lifestyle intervention may be therapeutic for oxidative DNA damage and oxidative stress.” Once again, we can see that the stress reduction properties of yoga can help us really live longer, happier, healthier lives.
Depression: Once again, Dr Sara Gottfried explains that “Yoga has been shown to raise your serotonin, one of the happy brain chemicals responsible for mood, sleep, and appetite.” And that we can use “yoga to balance our serotonin, feel buoyant, sleep soundly, and to know when to put down the fork.” Also, apparently, yoga can even help you fight depression if you’ve got a serious or chronic illness like breast cancer. This study found that regular yoga practice helped women improve and recover from the depression associated with their breast cancer.
Another study also found this to be true for women with post-natal depression: stating that “The yoga group experienced significantly greater rate of improvement in depression, anxiety, and HRQOL [health related quality of life], relative to the control group with moderate to large effects.” Basically, new mum’s with post-natal depression that practiced yoga saw some great improvement in their depression and anxiety.
So, there is a short, research-based rundown of some of the ways that yoga can help you improve your day, your mood, and your health. I’m a yoga lover, but because I live in a country where I don’t speak the language, it’s hard for me to find a yoga class. But, the quality of online yoga videos is simply awesome. Below I’m going to share with you 7 of my favorite yoga class videos . There’s one for every part of your day, so no matter what you’re feeling or what your goals are , you should find something here to suit.
Morning energiser: This video, from ‘Yoga with Adriene’, is an awesome way to power- up and get energised for your morning. Adriene takes you through a fun routine to get the blood flowing . I love using this one to wake myself up and get excited about my day.
Morning relaxer: If that’s not really your thing in the morning, Adriene also has a gorgeous relaxation morning yoga class too. I use this for when I’ve had a rough night’s sleep, know I have a tough day ahead, or just feel like I want a little extra T.L.C.
Desk time: As a teacher, l sometimes have to spend some pretty long hours at my desk preparing for classes. This is where, after 3-4 hours d sitting, desk Yoga comes to the rescue! I’m not super familiar with Esther Ekhart, who does this video but I plan to check out more of her stuff, because this desk yoga is a real gem . This short class takes you through a quick set of yoga exercises that you can do right at your desk, and which are specifically targeted to the stiff and tight places that come from silting at a desk all day. You can find more from her over at ekhartyoga.com
After work chill out: After work, I’m never up for a big workout. I’m always a bit too tired from my day. l am, however, more than happy to pamper myself with some stretching and relaxation, which helps me stay healthy and balanced. This is a video from ‘Fightmaster Yoga’ and I’m in love with it, I always feel so relaxed and fresh after I’m done It’s a great way to make the transition from ”work” to “home”.
Bed time preparation: Right before bed is also a great time to use some yoga to get you into that warm, relaxed, and sleepy head space. This video is gentle and easy, and it will have you unhooked from Your day and ready for a restful night.
Whole body workout: Ok, so enough with the relaxation for a second. Yoga can, of course, be an excellent workout. This video is a little harder and faster than what I’ve mentioned so far, and it’s a fun challenge that should have you pushing yourself a little and working out your whole body. I’m just a little bit hooked on Yoga with Adriene 😀
Weekend restoration: On Sundays I like to do a longer yoga ‘flow’ class to really get in the mood for a day of relaxation and enjoyment. This is a restorative class that will help you recharge and heal after a busy week and really sets the tone for the rest of your day.
If you’re feeling pained, stressed, depressed, or anxious, I hope you find at least one of these classes beneficial ofrenjoyable. I certainly don’t use them all each day, but I like to listen to my body and move in a way that suits my mood, the time of day, and my goals.
Let me know in the comments: What’s your favourite online yoga class?