What could be more stressful than shopping for a bathing suit or meeting your significant other's parents? Preparing for finals!
If you've been cramped up at that computer for hours studying and feeling like all the pressures of the world -- parents, school, friends -- are pushing in on you, then yoga could be the release valve you're looking for! Yoga? Maybe you think yoga means bending yourself into a pretzel till your face turns blue, but it's actually a great way to relax your body, shrug off stress, and get healthy at the same time. Plus, yoga is cool. Julia Roberts, Sting, Madonna, Woody Harrelson, Robin Williams, and Donna Karan all practice the ancient postures. Yoga began roughly five millennia ago in India, where mystics, deeply religious people looking for a direct connection with a greater power, sitting in deep meditation, would experience spontaneous movements. These movements were collected, and a system was born. One of the best things about yoga is that you don't have to believe any claims from anyone else. In fact, the more you practice, the more individual your practice becomes. Try it out for your self and draw your own conclusions. Take a class or read a book to make sure you're practicing it properly.
Start your practice right now with some basic yoga postures!
There! You've just practiced one of the first steps of yoga, taking a full deep breath. Feel more relxed? Did you know that the breath is closely tied to our moods and emotions? When you get stressed, you feel all tight inside, and your breath becomes shallow and constricted. When you take a conscious deep breath, you automatically move a little more into the relaxed state your body associates with deep breathing.
Deep breathing does more than just relax your body. Practice five minutes a day, and you'll notice that you think more clearly, digest your food better, and eat less. You also might notice that your skin takes on a glow--get ready for some compliments--just because you're filling your body with oxygen. Many people find they can manage their weight better because they don't eat as much. No more study-break snacking!
Now, try the second step in the practice of yoga, combining stretching with breathing.
You've just done your first yoga posture! It's called the half-moon series, and you can do it whenever you feel stressed.