How does yoga help you in moments of stress?

Ask a Yogi Series

You’ve practiced with them on YogaGlo. You’ve followed them on Facebook. You might even take their classes in person once in awhile if they travel to or live in your city. But how well do you know our YogaGlo teachers? We’ve created a new series, Ask a Yogi, so you can learn more about them by asking questions you’ve always wanted to ask.

From favorite poses and tips for beginners to deeper questions about how their practice has changed their worldview, our teachers will collectively answer a new question each week. If you have a question you’d like to “Ask a Yogi” let us know in the comments or email us at hello@yogaglo.com and we’ll add your questions to the list. Today’s Ask a Yogi question is:

  • Elena Bower: Reminds me that there is something bigger than me and I must respect that sense of scale and relative importance.
  • Kathryn Budig: My practice is always a game changer. I can unroll my mat miserable and by the end of my practice remember that everything is lined up and happening for a very good reason.
  • Jason Crandell: When people find out that I teach yoga they say things like, “oh, you must be so relaxed all the time.” I do my best to show who I really am to my regular students, but even most of them think that I’m a calm, mellow guy that responds to all of life’s vicissitudes with ease and grace. The truth is that I’m a simmering ball of tension ¾’s of the time and that yoga has simply helped contextualize, manage and respond to the stress more skillfully. Yoga has helped me understand that my personality, as well as my insecurities and ambitions make me prone to stress—and, it’s helped me fundamentally accept who I am (and that includes being a bit of a stress-maker). My practice has also taught me to give in less to my inner-narrative, especially when it’s spinning toward some sort of anxiety or fear. It’s helped me downgrade my experience of stress by teaching me to witness my stress without completely identifying with it. My practice has also taken the feeling of inner-pressure that stress invokes and replaced it with a sense of greater calm, composure and space. In short, I still experience plenty of stress but yoga has redesigned my relationship to it—most of the time—except, (of course when it hasn’t, like when there’s turbulence at 35,000 feet or when the other members of our HOA don’t bring in the !@#$ garbage cans).
  • Tiffany Cruikshank: My practice is like my anchor that brings me back to myself over and over again, whether it’s a good day or a bad day is irrelevant. It’s like coming home to yourself and realizing that usually the stuff that stresses you out is small and insignificant in the whole scheme of things. If I can change how I react to the stress of holding a posture I can change my perspective of stress in my life.
  • Steven Espinosa: I believe my yoga practice has taught me how to remain more grounded and steady on the inside even when things are chaotic on the outside. So in times of high stress I am able to stay more centered instead of reacting from a “fight or flight” perspective.
  • Marc Holzman: Inhale for 4. Hold for 16. Exhale for 8. Works every time.
  • Amy Ippoliti: Practicing when I am stressed inevitably reminds me that the world is not going to fall apart if I duck out and get on my mat for 20-90minutes. And of course I feel more relaxed and at ease when I finish. I rarely regret having taken the time to get on the mat in stressful times.
  • Tara Judelle: Stress is just energy that is misappropriated and usually in need of direction so I can take action. When I am stressed, I work to redirect the energy in a way that is beneficial to my body. This means that I want to reconnect to my breath, and usually, to move the energy down. I also want to move back into a place of ease. Depending on the time and the situation, the practice becomes the platform for breathing, grounding, and reconnecting.
  • Kia Miller: My greatest practice is to take a deep inhale when-ever something happens in life that I perceive as not going the way I had intended. The deep breath allows just enough time for me to be willing to shift my perspective.  If the stress is substantial then I must take more deep breaths before I respond! I have found this practice to be my greatest ally in life. It has helped me to remain graceful in the most ungraceful of circumstances!
  • Christina Sell: I think at the heart of any yoga practice is really one’s relationship to awareness. So, yoga has given me tools to be connected to myself and to stay aware of that connection regardless of circumstances, for instance, even in moments of stress. Additionally, yoga- not just asana but the whole ball of wax that I consider “practice” such as diet, sleep, meditation, pranayama, mantra, conscious relationship, communication practices and other various inner orientations– help me to connect to something that is larger than my personality which is usually where stress resides. Having said that, I make tons of mistakes, I am not a very patient person by nature, I am in no way a mellow, relaxed kind of yogi so one great benefit of a regular asana practice is that when stress has built up inside me- physically, emotionally, intellectually, nothing moves stuck energy for me like asana. I am a very physically-oriented person and asana practice is like pushing a re-set button so if I “forgot to practice” in the stressful moment, I can re-set, release, let-go and start again. I am very grateful for this tool.
  • Sianna Sherman: I turn my awareness to my breath and allow prana to source me in the living, breathing space that always calls me home. Stress occurs when I push against the current and move in a way that is disconnected, sometimes trying to push something away and other times wanting something that seems out of reach. The incredible beauty of awareness and breath is that they are tandem friends and help me shift my perspective the moment I turn to them. Immediately, I start to remember the truth of myself and can rest in the paradox that I’m embodied spirit.
  • Stephanie Snyder: One of the greatest aspects of the practice is that I can prescribe a sequence to address nearly any issue I’m dealing with whether it be physical or emotional. And I do! When I’m stressed I usually go for long forward folds and hip openers to ground me. If I just need to burn something out then Ill do a quick all around flow with vinyasa, a rhythmic and fluid practice to try and move out anything thats been sticking around for too long!
  • Jo Tastula: Stress can overtake you like a hostage. Before you know it you’re stuck in the turbulent fears of your mind and unable to see the forest for the trees. The skill of yoga is to simply be with what ever is happening right now in this moment, and to meet the moment with your undivided attention. It reminds you to breath, to feel and to acknowledge what is. Somehow, doing these simple things can bring the ground back beneath your feet and the breath back to your lips (or nose). In times of great turmoil this skill is a real lifeline.
  • Harshada Wagner: Well, honestly I don’t have many moments of stress, and this is thanks to my practice. Meditation practice expands your limits in a way where you don’t feel so pressurized. You feel spacious, so it’s easier to welcome intense energy. When I do get run down or feel pressurized, then surely a moment of remembrance, a few conscious breaths, the sweet vibration of mantra brings me back to spaciousness.

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