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Guest Post - Yoga for a Blissful Life

Sunday, March 06, 2011

{so happy to introduce my dear friend Kelly, who started a blog, Calming the Spirit to share her journey towards a blissful life. Kelly & I met while teaching in Boston and have become fantastic cyber-friends now that we're across country. I really admire her tenacity & passion for wellness.  I asked her to share a bit on stress relief...something that comes up a lot-  with all of us juggling businesses, family, and pursuit of our dreams.  Thanks to Kelly for being so candid & providing all these awesome links....she inspired me to complete my yoga pregnancy video today!}

{yoga mat bag courtesy effiehandmade}

Stress can be a real killer, especially when you do not feel you have the tools to manage the little bugger! It's important for us to take time for ourselves to combat this force in our lives. Women, especially mothers, tend to not make time for themselves, or feel guilty about it when they do. However, time spent bettering your mind, body and spirit will only enhance your relationships with your spouse, children, family, friends, co-workers and ultimately yourself!

My main source of stress relief is yoga and meditation, however this was not always the case. I dabbled in this lifestyle over the course of 6 years until about 9 months ago when I was recovering from cancer surgery. I needed something to manage my out of control fear, anxiety and helplessness. Yoga was my joy, salvation, and dear friend during this very scary time. Now that I am well (yay!) I continue to reap the benefits of a consistent yoga practice. 

Yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, it can be said to provide the combined benefits of breathing exercises, stretching exercises, fitness programs, meditation practice, and guided imagery, in one technique. A common concern among people is flexibility. One does not need to be flexible to do yoga! Balance, strength, and flexibility are obtained through consistency. It works pretty fast too! I was surprised to see that after about a month I could touch my toes and after a few months I was able to reach my palms to the floor. 

Some of the postures can be done anywhere you wish and can go on for hours or minutes, depending on your own schedule. But whether you practice yoga for stress management and physical well-being, or for spiritual transformation the benefits are endless.

Yoga’s Effects On the Body:
  • reduced stress
  • sound sleep
  • reduced cortisol levels
  • improvement of many medical conditions
  • allergy and asthma symptom relief
  • lower blood pressure
  • smoking cessation help
  • lower heart rate
  • spiritual growth
  • sense of well-being
  • reduced anxiety and muscle tension
  • increased strength and flexibility
  • slowed aging process
After you begin practicing these results will show up fairly soon. I remember being shocked that after 4 yoga classes I wasn't as anxious about my test results as before. One particularly interesting moment was in November during an intense posture. I was trying my hardest at dancer's pose and to get myself through it I began swearing at cancer over and over.  What a sense of empowerment that brought me! 

{necklace courtesy justjaynes}

This video by the Mayo Clinic shows a few basic poses to get you started. 

A DVD I recommend is Yoga For Stress Relief (With the Dalai Lama) 
great written resource is Yoga for Stress Relief: A Simple and Unique Three-Month Program for De-Stressing and Stress Prevention by Swami Shivapremananda 

Happy stretching, breathing, decompressing and letting go!