Tips - Using Yoga for Stress Management

If you want to use yoga for stress use these tips to maximize the effectiveness of yoga as a stress management tool.

1. TIME AND PLACE – To get the most from my yoga practice I do it in the same place and at roughly the same time every morning. I make sure there is plenty of time available by getting up early enough to complete my hour long ritual each before anything else happens in my day. It does not have to be an hour. That’s just my preference. As little as 15 minutes can work as long as it happens daily and is a focused time. If you are using yoga for stress you don't want to make it a stressful experience.

2. WARM UP – I don’t start right away with trying to get deeply into the essence. Instead I spend a few minutes with vigorous movement and breath. You can just jump around if you want, or shake your body, do random movements or whatever just plain feels good to wake up your body and your breath. There is a section in my book Turn Stress Into Bliss that describes a warm up routine that I like to use.

3. BREATHING – Once you begin your yoga practice pay as much attention to your breath as you do to your body. Long, slow, deep, inhalations followed by relaxed full exhalations that are coordinated with you body movements work best.

4. PLAY THE EDGE – Remove all force, strain, and trying from your practice. Instead come gently to your edge in each posture using your breath to help you slowly get there. Some years ago I wrote an article on Playing the Edge that was published in Yoga Journal. If you are a yoga teacher and would like to copy it for your students, email me. It may help them add another dimension to their approach to yoga. I like to think of my yoga practice as “effortless effort”.

5. FOCUS AWARENESS – Once you arrive at your edge, practice being present physically and emotionally to whatever you might be experiencing right NOW.

6. ACCEPT – Whatever you notice, accept it. This is what is happening now and all that needs to happen.

7. CHOOSE - Decide in the moment how to be present to what is happening. You might feel an urge to move into a harder edge. Do you really want to do this? Choose. Practice making different choices and see what happens as a result.

8. PAUSE AND REFLECT – After each posture and again at the end of your practice take a few moments to reflect on your experience and what you noticed. In Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy one key element of the process is what we call Integration. It’s one of the key features of the practice that help make it such an effective modality.

All of the above tips are described in detail in Turn Stress Into Bliss. Another good way for new yoga students to learn how to use yoga for stress in this way is to find a yoga teacher or yoga therapist who can guide them through the process.

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Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy: Theory and Form

Return from Yoga for Stress to More about Yoga