Yoga for relieving stress

Yoga combines several stress management techniques such as breathing and meditation, apart from yogasanas, to manage stress

Woman doing Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing) Pranayama

In our highly competitive environment, changes are taking place at the speed of thought.

This has led to dissatisfaction and anxiety, creating enormous tension, especially in some of us who are not able to cope in a fast-changing world. The end result is psychological and physiological stress, along with a drain on our energy reserves.

Many of the psychosomatic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, migraine, asthma, digestive disorders and even cancer, arise from excessive stress in the body and mind over a long period of time.

Stress stats

Let’s look at some of the statistical data on stress to understand its enormity.

Stress is the second biggest cause of employee-sickness absence-days in the UK. According to the Health and Safety Executive statistics, “The cost to Britain’s economy is around 6.7 million working days lost per year… costing society 4 billion.”

Stress-related diseases are the most common form of sick absence in the developed world. This is estimated at 3 billion per year in Europe alone.

In Australia, the total cost of workers’ compensation claims, for stress-related conditions, is estimated at $200 million every year. It is obvious that the cost of stress-related illnesses is rapidly increasing around the globe.

It is also clear that there has been a mammoth effort undertaken by present-day medical science to handle stress.

Stress, as many of us know, is primarily studied at the physical level by traditional medical science. However, the fact is modern medicine has not been able to provide an effective treatment protocol to beat stress because the real problem does not lie in the body.

Stress originates in the mind and, thereafter, disturbs our pranic energy level. It finally emerges on the physical plane as amplified distress.

Yoga relief to stress

Yoga provides a holistic and effective approach to tackle stress. One of the oldest self-improvement practices, yoga combines the practices of several stress management techniques such as breathing and meditation, apart from yogasana practice, to give you real, tangible benefits.

According to yoga physiology, our framework consists of five layers, or sheaths. These five layers together account for different aspects of our existence:

  • Annamaya kosha: Physical sheath
  • Pranamaya kosha: Vital energy sheath
  • Manomaya kosha: Mental sheath
  • Vijnanamaya kosha: Wisdom sheath
  • Anandamaya kosha: Bliss sheath.

The yogic approach to managing stress is not just based on the physical aspect of being; it is based on the very dimension of human existence in its entirety. Apart from providing a sublime healing effect at the physical level, yoga also works on pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas. This is a truly complete approach towards managing stress.

For stress accumulated at the physical level, to cull one example, which presents as stiffness of joints, what one can do is to release it by the practice of gentle yogasana.

Breathing exercises like anuloma viloma bring balance at the pranic level.

Anuloma viloma, in simple terms, is alternate nostril breathing:

  1. Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb. Count up to four
  2. Hold your breath, and close both nostrils, and count up to 16
  3. Exhale through the right nostril. Close left nostril with the ring and little finger to the count of eight
  4. Inhale through the right nostril. Keep left nostril closed with the ring and little finger to the count of four
  5. Hold your breath. Close both nostrils to the count of 16
  6. Exhale through your left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight.


This simple exercise stimulates optimal function on both sides of the brain. In other words, it expands optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. It also brings a great sense of balance between your creative and logical thinking. Experts say that anuloma viloma is one of the best techniques available to calm the mind and the nervous system.

Another simple idea that you’d use with good effect is the practice of awareness of present-moment reality through meditation. This helps to eliminate stress and imbalance at both the physical and mental level.

What is Stress?

Stress is disharmony. It is the reaction to any demanding situation in human physiology. Stress is our internal reaction. It is caused by our interpretation of what is outside; it results in building up of tension within us.

If an individual lacks the ability to deal with the situation and is not able to relieve the stress reaction, stress become distress and transforms itself into a disorder in the mind and body.

Stress Symptoms

  • Tension headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of nervousness
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Irritation
  • Migraine
  • Menstrual distress
  • Sexual problems
  • Acidity, gas etc.,

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Subodh Gupta is a Celebrity Yoga Trainer based in London. He has written several articles on Yoga ,appeared on various TV channels program and has conducted more than 500 workshops on Yoga, Weight Management, Stress Management and Art of Relaxation in India and London.


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