Can Yoga Reduce Your Stutters?
Do you know how yoga can help reduce your stuttering? These simple yoga postures (asanas) can improve your verbal communication by reducing stuttering.
The COVID-19 pandemic has induced fear, anxiety, and concern worldwide. In Britain, one in five people has met the criteria of depression during the pandemic. The condition is worse in the USA, with 40% of the adults struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse.
In the quest for mental peace, an unprecedented number of people are turning to yoga. Various studies have shown how yoga can reduce stress and anxiety. It also helps in ensuring physical well-being and decreasing the risk of chronic diseases.
However, that is not where the benefits of yoga end. Yoga can also help reduce stuttering.
How Are Yoga and Stuttering Related?
Research shows that anxiety is not a root cause of stuttering. There is no direct connection between yoga and stuttering. However, anxiety has an adverse effect on people who stutter (PWS).
Verbal communication is a feared task among those who stutter. The fear of verbal communication triggers anxiety. This, in turn, tightens the muscles involved in the production of speech, making communication even more difficult than before. Hence, anxiety creates a negative feedback loop, where the fear of stuttering worsens the situation.
The negative experiences from the past fuels our social anxiety. Our brain tricks us into reminiscing about the bad experiences more than the good ones. We are prone to becoming anxious whenever we communicate with a stranger, as we recollect the negative reactions from our past encounters.
A 2009 study found that 50% of adults who stutter, deal with social anxiety.
Stuttering increases the chances of having social anxiety by 16 to 34 times. Speech-language pathologists (SLP) use various tried-and-tested methods to deal with anxiety.
Yoga is a very effective way of reducing stress, which you can try on your own.
How Yoga Reduces Stress
To understand how yoga reduces stress, let us first know about the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is a part of our nervous system responsible for the functioning of our heart, liver, intestines, and some other organs.
The ANS can be classified into two branches — the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is responsible for controlling the secretion of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
SNS raises our blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and also our heart rate during any moment of emergency. The blood flow to our intestines and reproductive organs is diverted to our arms and legs.
On the contrary, PNS lowers blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate. Blood returns to the intestines and reproductive organs, inducing a relaxation effect on the body.
A balance between the SNS and PNS that dictates the blood sugar level, blood pressure, and heart rate can contribute to a healthy body and sound mind.
However, the busy, cut-throat 21st-century life requires us to be in the “fight or flight” situation more often than usual, resulting in the frequent activation of the SNS.
This is where yoga may help us strike a balance. Yogasanas induce the activation of PNS and thus calm your body. Research shows that all yogasanas reduce heart rate and blood pressure. When we do yoga, we feel relaxed and our stress levels decrease significantly. It also helps us sleep better.
Stuttering and Lasting Emotional Effects
About 1% of the total world population stutters and about 5% of people stutter at some point in their childhood. Still…
Yogasanas For Stuttering
1. Anuloma-Viloma Pranayama
Pranayama helps in stimulating PNS. It helps promote diaphragmatic breathing, which helps in reducing stuttering.
During Anuloma-Viloma Pranayama, we sit straight, with our shoulders and neck relaxed and eyes closed.
- Block one nostril using your thumb and inhale using the other for 4 counts.
- Then retain the air for 16 counts.
- Breath out from the other nostril for 8 counts.
- Repeat it by inhaling from the other nostril and exhaling.
You can learn more about this pranayama here.
Savasana helps reduce stress, headaches, and lowers blood pressure. This is how you can do it:
- Close your eyes and sit in an upright position. Relax your muscles.
- Take deep breaths.
- As you continue deep breathing, gently lie down on your back with your legs relaxed and heels one foot apart.
- Place your arms by your side. Relax your eyes, jaws, shoulders, and feel the calmness in your body.
You can know more about Savasana in this video:
Balasana increases blood circulation to our head, which helps in reducing stress and anxiety. It also calms the Central Nervous System (CNS).
- Sit on your heels with your spinal cord straight.
- Gently bring your body to a table position.
- Slowly lower your hips and lay your forehead on the floor.
- Position your arms and knees in a way you feel comfortable with.
- Take deep breaths. Press your thighs against your belly while inhaling.
Watch the video to learn more about the Balasana:
4. Salamba Sarvangasana
Salamba Sarvangasana is a comparatively challenging yoga pose. Do not attempt it if you have high blood pressure, neck injury, or if you are pregnant.
- The first step of this yogasana is to lie down on your back.
- Then slowly raise your hips and legs upwards, at a 90° angle from the floor.
- As you do this, bring your chest closer to your chin.
This yogasana relaxes the brain, stimulates the thyroid, and promotes blood flow. In men, it can stimulate the prostate gland. It helps in reducing stress and also improves digestion and sleep.
Master the Salamba Sarvangasana:
5. Baddha Konasana
Baddha Konasana not only reduces stress but also stimulates the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. This is how you can do it:
- Sit in Sukhasana, i.e., with your legs crossed and spinal cord straight.
- Take a deep breath. As you do so, bring the soles of your feet together.
- Bring your heels a close to your pelvis as you can without any discomfort.
- Hold your feet together with your hands. Drop your knees to the floor.
- Exhale air and bend your body forward. Touch the floor with your forehead.
- Take deep breaths.
- Lift your body while exhaling and return to Sukhasana.
Learn more about this yogic posture here.
Wrapping Things Up
While these yogasanas aren’t directly related to stuttering, they activate our PNS. This reduces stress and helps in making verbal communication much smoother. You can practice them on your own, with a little guidance from the Internet.