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Slow, mindful yoga to reduce anxiety

"Yoga" is a word that has come to encompass a lot of different styles, but over my years of both practicing and teaching I have gravitated towards a slower practice, as it has seemed to be what both my mind and my body need, and I have also seen a need for it in the students that find their way to me.

A study at Stamford University* in 2020 looked at the acute (i.e immediate) effects of practicing both a slower style of yoga, and a faster, "power yoga" practice. After the slow, mindful practice, participants showed lower levels of stress after the slow practice, but not after power yoga (self-reported via questionnaire, and via salivary cortisol samples taken).

Obviously this is just one study, but there are others showing the benefits of a slow, mindful, meditative style of yoga on both current stress levels, and stress levels over time (with regular practice). Meditation on its own also has the same benefits, but sometimes when feeling anxious and stressed, sitting still to meditate can be an enormous challenge, and can feel more stressful in itself! Mindful movement allows us to access those benefits, without having to be still. The movement itself gives us something to focus on, other than just the breath and the thoughts, and allows us to move out of the sympathetic nervous system (often referred to as "fight, flight or freeze"), and access the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the "rest and digest" state). In other words, it helps us move from stressed and anxious (which is fine, and normal to feel this way for short periods, but has a negative impact on both mental and physical health if we get stuck there), to calm and resilient, and better able to cope with whatever challenges might come up in our lives.

If you want to know more about your options for starting a slow, mindful, home yoga practice, you can find details of my online memberships here

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