How Yoga and Pilates Have Helped Reduce My Anxiety
Anxiety has been something that I have struggled with for quite some time. Though a common feeling for many, what helps relieve anxiety can be different for everyone. It took me many years to find that yoga and pilates were great techniques for my personal anxiety relief and helped center and ground me at the end of the day.
Like I said, anxiety and stress relief looks different for everyone. I grew up dancing my whole life and was always super active. When I went to college, my daily physical activity decreased by a lot and I began to experience intense stress. Not too long after I tried yoga and pilates out as they were very similar but less intense to the dance training I grew up with.
I found that there were a few main practices within yoga and pilates that would help me relax and forget about my stressors for that day and positively affect my mental health.
1. Breath Work
It seems silly, but breath work is an amazing technique used in many practices like yoga, pilates, and even meditation.These breathing exercises help improve the blood flow in the body as well as promote relaxation. Focusing on your breath and body movements helps push out any distracting and stressful thoughts and bring in more thoughtful and deeper ideas.
Coming from a dance background, stretching is one of my favorite forms of physical exercise. To me, stretching is important to my body as it helps relax and heal my muscles and joints after a session. When you’re stressed, your body can be in distress as well causing your muscles to tighten in pain. Stretching has also been shown to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which results in a feeling of calmness when activated.
3. Social Routine
Lastly, the social routine of yoga and pilates is one factor that has continued to help with my anxiety. Knowing when I am going to take my class and participating in multiple social interactions a day helps me not only with anxiety but also depressive thoughts. For me, I like to have a structure to my day and when I am able to schedule my pilates class for 8pm most days, it’s something that I truly look forward to. A routine like this works well for my body as well as my mind and it becomes one less thing I can overthink or worry about.
There are truly many factors that go into reducing and relieving anxiety and overall stress and there are many other tools and techniques that help others to do so. Whether it's yoga, journaling, mediation, kickboxing, drawing, or painting, the most important part is that it works for you and helps you feel your best.