Yoga Therapy Can Help with Stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but chronic stress can take a serious toll on both our physical and mental health. While there are many ways to manage stress, yoga therapy stands out as an effective, holistic approach that addresses both the mind and body. As a yoga therapist, I have seen how yoga can transform lives by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving overall well-being. In this post, I will explain how yoga therapy can help manage stress and offer two practical yoga practices you can incorporate into your routine.

Understanding Stress

Stress is the body’s natural response to perceived threats or challenges. When stressed, the body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, leading to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, and rapid breathing. Chronic stress can contribute to a variety of health issues, including anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and weakened immune function. Therefore, managing stress effectively is crucial for maintaining health and well-being.

How Yoga Therapy Helps with Stress

According to a 2023 systematic review authored by Khajuria, the practice of yoga offers a promising avenue for reducing stress and promoting overall well-being. The incorporation of deliberate, conscious breathing,  measured movements, and mindfulness strategies in yoga facilitates the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a state of relaxation. Here are the specifics: 

  1. Breath Control (Pranayama):
    • Balances the Nervous System: Pranayama techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the stress-induced fight-or-flight response, promoting relaxation and calm.
    • Enhances Mindfulness: Focused breathing helps anchor the mind in the present moment, reducing worry and rumination.
  1. Physical Postures (Asanas):
    • Releases Physical Tension: Gentle yoga poses help stretch and relax muscles, relieving the physical tension that often accompanies stress.
    • Boosts Circulation: Movement improves blood flow, which can help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.
  1. Meditation and Relaxation:
    • Promotes Mental Clarity: Meditation practices increase mental clarity and emotional regulation, helping individuals manage stress more effectively.
    • Induces Deep Relaxation: Practices like Yoga Nidra promote deep relaxation and significantly reduce stress levels. 

Two Yoga Practices to Reduce Stress

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Deep Belly Breathing)

Diaphragmatic breathing helps activate the body’s relaxation response and reduces stress. By doing this once or a number of times a day, you will train your body to more easily move into more relaxed states, and your stress levels will decrease.


  1. Lie down in a comfortable position
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise while keeping your chest relatively still
  4. Exhale slowly through the nose or through pursed lips, letting your abdomen fall (you might actively more the belly back towards the spine)
  5. Focus on your breath and continue for 5-10 minutes



  • Reduces heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Calms the mind by helping to withdraw our senses from the external world and turn within to investigate how we are doing

2. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose can help calm the mind and reduce stress. If you are tight and/or feel like you can’t settle, you could move in and out of the pose linking movement and breath 6 to 10 times before settling in to focus on your breath. By doing this once or a number of times a day, you will train your body to more easily move into more relaxed states, and your stress levels will decrease.


  1. Start in hands and knees on the floor, bring your big toes touching and spread the knees apart
  2. Sit back toward your heels
  3. Extend your arms forward and lower your torso between your knees (place blankets or pillows between your calves and the back of the upper thighs if you can’t relax into the pose)
  4. Rest your forehead on the ground (put something under your forehead if it doesn’t reach the ground). You might experiment with relaxing your arms by your sides instead of out in front of you. 
  5. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, staying in this position for 5-10 minutes. 



  • Relieves physical and mental tension by gently stretching the muscles and fascia along the backside of the body. When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Resting the forehead on the floor stimulates the Aschner reflex which lowers the heart rate and brings up a relaxing sensation. 
  • Helps to withdraw our senses from the external world and turn within to investigate how we are doing. 

In Conclusion

Yoga therapy provides a comprehensive approach to managing stress by combining breath control, physical postures, and relaxation techniques.  I’ve recommended two practices that work with a number of people, but not every pose or practice works for every body. It is crucial to recognize the individuality of responses to yoga and the multifaceted nature of stress reduction. Working with me privately as your yoga therapist, you can benefit from personalized guidance and practices tailored to your specific needs and lifestyle.  If you’re ready to take control of your stress and enhance your well-being, consider scheduling a session with me to begin your journey towards a more balanced and peaceful life.