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Yoga for Stress Management

Yoga Beginners: Tips to Get You Started and Enjoying the Relaxing Health Benefits.

Never Too Late to Begin Yoga for Stress Management continued...

Don't worry that you are coming to yoga late and you'll be way behind. "It's not about doing it better or worse than someone else, it's about how you feel each stretch in your own body," says Arbuckle. The names of poses -- and chants of om -- are beside the point. The only test, according to lifelong yoga practitioners, is how relaxed you can allow yourself to feel. Now that wasn't hard, was it?

  • Listen to Your Body

Yoga is a deeply personal practice and no two people can or should hold a pose in exactly the same way. It's important to work at your own level of flexibility, one that makes you feel challenged but not overwhelmed. "If a teacher is telling you to do something that doesn't feel good for your body, then don't do it," Arbuckle says. "Your body will warn you if you are about to get hurt." The key is to listen to your body, push the limits gently, but don't let yourself be overcome by ego. "Allow your body to guide you and be your friend."

  • Concentrate on Your Breath

The goal of yoga is to marry the breath to movement. Most teachers will tell you when to inhale and exhale as you work through poses. "Breathe through your nose only," Shaw advises. "This keeps heat in the body and keeps the mind focused." Concentrating on your breath is the key to yoga for stress management, as it helps you let go of external thoughts and anxiety. "The easiest way to bring yourself into the present moment is to focus on your breath," Arbuckle says. "Feel how it goes down your nose and into your body. It helps you let go of the worrying thoughts."

  • Play Dead

Every yoga class ends with 'corpse pose, a pose designed for deep relaxation. Simply lie on your back with your arms at your side and your eyes closed, breathing deeply. See how easy it is -- you've learned a yoga pose already.

  • Let Go of Competitiveness

It can be hard in a class not to look sideways and notice the lithe young thing balancing on one leg while you teeter and flail. But it's important to remember that yoga truly is about you. "The biggest mistake beginners make is having expectations. Yoga is a process and it can be slow. Let go of competition and judgment," says Shaw. "Yoga is supposed to bring us into the present moment. You will find joy in not only the physical movement and mental benefits but in spending time in the now," Shaw says. "Where else can you get that kind of mental vacation?"

And you don't even have to send postcards home.

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Reviewed on February 09, 2007

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