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Calm Holiday Stress With Yoga

It’s December, and everywhere you turn, someone is counting the days until Christmas and New Year’s. In addition to your usual obligations such as working and caring for your family, you’ve added holiday celebrations and preparations to your calendar. You’re tired, you’re anxious, and your stress level is through the ceiling.

For many people, the holidays are accompanied with short-term stressors. But even short-term stress can have negative effects on metabolic, psychologic, and immunologic functions in the body. For example, being stressed during the holidays may cause you to sleep poorly, feel tired and irritable, be forgetful, and make you feel down. It also can cause headaches, a rapid heartbeat, digestive problems, and aches / pains. Being stressed also can make you prone to illness.

If you’re looking for a way to manage your stress during the holidays,
give yourself the gift of yoga.

Yoga Basics
Exercise yoga combines breathing techniques, meditation, certain poses and postures, strength-building exercises, and flexibility exercises for physical health and psychological well-being. It is based on a Hindu theistic philosophy that emphasizes inner peace through control of and liberation from the body, mind, will, and external objects.1

During yoga, there is emphasis on controlled, conscious breathing (pranayama) for slow, medium, and fast cycles to instill physical and mental calm and help relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and stress-related physical illnesses and conditions. At the end of each yoga session there is focus on deep relaxation (or savasana) to release your body and mind for profound rest and inner peace.1

Millions of Americans now practice yoga alone or in combination
with other exercise routines and activities to achieve, improve,
and maintain physical and mental health.2

Yoga Benefits
In addition to helping calm rattled nerves, yoga also may help treat and manage asthma, cancer treatment-related side effects, cardiovascular problems, depression, diabetes, pain, musculoskeletal problems, and eating disorders.1

Some studies show yoga can help lower heart rate,
lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and manage certain health problems.

Want more good news? Almost anyone can practice yoga!

Where to Begin With Yoga
Hatha yoga, which is among yoga techniques that uses slower movements, is the most popular form of exercise yoga in the United States. Hatha yoga emphasizes breathing techniques, stretching, and muscle-strengthening exercises that offer benefits similar to other moderate exercises.2 Hatha yoga is manageable for and especially popular with people of at almost all ages, weights, physical conditions, and fitness levels.2 But most people can enjoy and benefit from any type of yoga.

If you’d like to reduce your stress this holiday season,
start with a Hatha yoga class.

According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga is a low-impact exercise that is safe for most people, especially when it is practiced with a knowledgeable instructor who understands how to work with people of all ages and fitness levels. Although it’s rare to have side effects and injuries from yoga, it’s important to let your practitioner and yoga instructor know if you have certain medical conditions, including glaucoma, high blood pressure, sciatica, pregnancy, and joint problems. Your practitioner and yoga instructor may modify certain yoga poses/positions to protect your health.3

As with any exercise program,
talk with your
Summit Medical Group practitioners before starting yoga.

Learn about basic yoga and chair yoga at Summit Medical Group.


  1. Yoga. Merriam Webster Dictionary. m-w.com. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoga. Accessed July 1, 2013.
  2. 2. Raub JA. Psychophysiologic effects of hatha yoga on musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary functions: a literature review. J Altern Complement Med. 2002:8(6);797-812.
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Yoga for health. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. Accessed July 1, 2013.