Managing Anxiety & Stress Through Yoga

For the past several months, yoga has been a great way for me to cope with stressors, whether that be feeling anxious about a test, worrying about girl drama, or simply just going to work on myself emotionally and physically. I take an hour out of my day to unplug and be mindful about myself and I walk out feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and honestly better about myself and the world around me.

Research has shown that practicing yoga on a continuous basis can improve psychological and physical symptoms of stress. It also has implications in improving mental health, mindfulness, and sleep. More recently, I’ve been thinking about how practicing yoga can be so beneficial for children with autism so I dove into some research.

Radhakrishna et. al. studied the effects of a yoga therapy approach in children with ASD and found that yoga practice had positive effects on cognitive skills and social-communicative behaviors. When practicing certain breathing strategies and poses, children look to and imitate the instructor, supporting the development of guided imagery and imitation skills. 

Additionally, yoga creates more awareness of one’s emotions and feelings. Yoga acts as an outlet where children with ASD can express their emotions in a safe space and calm themselves with breathing strategies, one of the most essential parts of yoga. The ability to regulate breath is vital in lowering stress. Studies have also shown that GABA levels increase after yoga practice, reducing levels of anxiety and depression. 

From one yogi to another, I strongly support the practice as a therapeutic tool not only for children with ASD but for everyone. Yoga practices are proven to improve health functioning, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance overall quality of life. It’s a self-empowering process where the yogi is his or her own healer. 

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