National Stress Awareness Month and Yoga

I think it’s fun hearing about different national/international days like National Wildlife Day, Book Lovers Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day, etc. And for something to get designated as a whole month, that offers time to learn and explore the theme further. Which is why when I was reminded that April is known as “National Stress Awareness Month,” it kind of seemed worth diving into. The “busy-ness” of transitioning into a new year has – hopefully – slowed down and we’ve maybe made some progress on those new year goals and can adjust as needed for the remainder of the year. It’s also a good time to check in and see how we feel with all these plans and goals and the busy start to a new year.

Preparing this post, I searched for “yoga and stress relief,” which yielded a number of results (as did “yoga and stress relief studies”). A good intro was this article from Harvard Health Publishing on “Yoga for better mental health.” As expected, there was mention of yoga’s focus on the breath. In class, I find  that focus on breath draws my attention to the movement and not on my to-do list for the afternoon. In a difficult pose or just after a flow sequence, that breath focus offers me a conscious intention to try to lengthen my inhales and exhales and I can feel my energy slowing down. When I feel how that feels in my own body, that release initiated by the longer breath becomes a reminder to take with me when I notice my breath might have shortened.

Yoga was a great way for me to learn this tool about breath, and it’s a tool I try to practice when I feel myself experiencing moments of stress. I learned about the effects of the breath on the body through my classes at The Mat Yoga Studio and the knowledge from my teachers, in workshops and by listening and understanding what I felt when I consciously focused on my own breathing.

The above article also mentioned how exercise in general helped one’s mood. It made me think of that joke of saying after a yoga class of “’I regret having come to class,’ said no one ever.” Even on the busy days – r maybe especially on these days – I know I’ll feel better after taking a class. More so if I go to the studio. While the traffic may not be stress relieving – especially for a weekday evening class! – other aspects of stress relief are there: movement, community, stillness, meditation. The reminder I’m doing something good for me.

Since it is National Stress Awareness Month, what are some other things you like to do for a little healthy stress relief? For me, yoga, most certainly. But also taking a walk, curling up with a good book, catching up with a friend. And this reminder of stress management that the month’s theme brings is my own reminder to “refill my cup,” so to speak, and see what I can shift to make room for the yoga classes that I know I’ll look forward to taking.

This is the part of a series of posts for The Mat Yoga Studio, sharing my thoughts and observations as a student only. The views and opinions are my own experience.


Patricia returned to Texas after spending several years on both coasts. She's a writer, amateur photographer and traveler.

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