The Science behind Yoga and Stress

This article describes how yoga – forward folds, backbends, and holding poses more generally – helps address stress off the mat. The soothing part of the brain (the “logical” side) gets practice stepping in and calming the stress-response part (the “emotional” side) that wants to react. When challenges come up off the mat, and the emotional side of the brain is activated by more “real” situations than yoga poses, the logical part of the brain is stronger and can more easily take over and soothe, rather than letting the panicking emotional part run the show.

It’s not uncommon to find articles on trauma-sensitive yoga that emphasize restorative poses only, and implying poses that “put people on edge” have no place. Certainly some people will find a more restorative style of yoga beneficial – which is fine! – but it’s important to recognize that a more physically demanding practice can have just as many emotional benefits as a more restorative one.
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