Intermountain Healthcare

Using Yoga to Relieve Stress and Improve Health


St. George, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/18/2021 --"Yoga is the yoking of the mind and body," said Chanda Vaniman, exercise physiologist and certified yoga instructor at the St. George Intermountain LiVe Well Center. "Anytime we are feeling stressed, it is beneficial to take a moment to connect and listen to our bodies. Using the movement of yoga is a great way to use your mind to check-in with your body."

Vaniman explains that as people tune into their bodies by practicing yoga, they can identify where they hold stress. Vaniman says that unconscious stress related habits may create chronic muscle tension and fatigue. Stress could lead to a pinching sensation in the neck, an upset stomach, or a myriad of other physical manifestations. Checking-in with the body, and noticing how it feels, is the root of what yoga is all about.

"Yoga is about taking a minute to focus and connect the mind and the body," said Vaniman. "Yoga is taking a few deep, cleansing breaths, and being in present with both mind and body. Stretching muscles and practicing mindfulness can relieve stress. People don't need to wear yoga pants or twist into a pretzel to connect the mind and body through yoga."

Regular practicing of mindfulness – connecting the mind and body in the present through movement – encourages relaxation, slows breathing, and quiets negative mental thoughts (frustration, regret, anger, fear) that play over and over in an endless mental loop causing stress.

"When the mind and body are connected, we feel grounded," Vaniman said. "When we are grounded we are better able to prioritize and make good decisions. We feel strong mentally and physically when we feel grounded and connected. Ever experienced disconnect by driving to the wrong place on autopilot? Or realized you are clenching the steering wheel in a death grip while your mind is a million miles away? Being in the moment, feeling connected takes effort. Yoga is a chance to practice connecting."

Doing yoga encourages connectiveness. Moving through yoga poses, we learn that everything is connected: the hand is connected to the arm which is connected to the body which is connected to the leg and the foot. Mindfully focusing on how all those parts work together helps the mind and body connect. Yoga also encourages the mind to feel part of something bigger, a family, a yoga class, a community, or society as a whole. Feeling connected brings peace of mind.

"Besides relieving stress, yoga has many health benefits," Vaniman said. "Yoga can improve sleep, increase immune function, and increase flexibility and mobility. Anybody can do yoga. Yoga can be done seated in a chair, standing up, or on the floor. Yoga can be done as a class or alone as a mid-day break. Practicing the mindful movement of yoga doesn't need to be long or fancy to improve your health."

Studies have shown that practicing yoga improves health. Yoga decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yoga increases flexibility, strength, muscle tone, respiration, posture, and energy levels. Stronger muscles in turn protect against injury, osteoporosis, arthritis, back pain, and prevent falls. Yoga can also improve athletic performance and cardiovascular/circulatory health.

"Yoga is mindfully moving the body – yoking the mind and body together," said Vaniman. "There is an inner stillness that comes from moving the body. Yoga can relive stress, encourage connection, and improve overall health."

Think about that and try rolling out the yoga mat to better health and less stress.

For information on LiVe Well Center classes, please see our web site or call (435) 251-3793.

About LiVe Well Center
LiVE Well is a program offered by Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare.