If, like us, you’ve been watching your country’s performances at the European Championship football from behind the sofa, 30 minutes of BODYBALANCE yoga can help reduce your anxiety and stress levels.

It’s that time of year again as major sporting spectacles including the UEFA Euro 2024 soccer tournament, Wimbledon tennis and World Cup T20 cricket hit our screens. If your an avid fan, though, these events can be hugely stressful to watch – particularly if you’re an England football fan. The team’s performances during the tournament have proved once again that supporting your national team (unless that team is Spain) is an inherently stressful experience. But help is at hand, and all you need is half an hour and an exercise mat.

While many people will turn to alcohol to get them through a stressful summer of sport, there is another way. And that’s fortunate for the fitness-focused among us. A team of researchers from the University of the Fraser Valley, Canada, has suggested that 30 minutes of yoga is the best way to reduce stress and anxiety. Although their research linked yoga to reducing exam stress, this could equally be applied to pre-race preparation or coping with watching a lengthy and highly stressful international tournament.

The research team found that BODYBALANCE yoga classes were particularly good at lessening stress and anxiety

Yoga poses can lessen stress

The research, published in the American Journal of College Health, reveals that just 30 minutes of yoga-focused exercise can help to significantly reduce exam anxiety, compared to those who spend the same amount of time cramming last-minute revision. Findings demonstrate that students who choose gentle movement like sun salutations or child’s pose as their last-minute exam preparations feel more uplifted and positive within minutes, helping to create a positive mindset for exams.

Les Mills BODYBALANCE – a new generation yoga class – was put to the test by the team from the University of the Fraser Valley, who analysed anxiety levels from students who had completed the session beforehand against those who had been reading revision notes, and found that participants who had taken part in the class experienced less stress during exam conditions. 

BODYBALANCE yoga poses

Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, highlights three BODYBALANCE poses that help release tension, increase blood flow and reduce anxiety.

Downward Dog Yoga Pose is excellent for stretching the entire back of the body, improving circulation, and releasing tension, especially in the spine and hamstrings. The science behind this pose lies in its ability to invert the body, which decompresses the spine, releasing tension from our postural muscles. Focusing on our breathing in this position calms the mind, making it a perfect stress reducer.

Warrior 2 Yoga Pose strengthens the legs, opens the hips, and improves stability. The alignment in this pose enhances our connection with our joint sensors in the lower limb, improving alignment and movement awareness. The focused stance of Warrior 2 helps boost strength endurance, while reconnecting with the muscles of the lower limb allows you to feel more grounded and less anxious.

A daily downward dog could be the key to enjoying a stress-free European Championships this summer

“Lastly, the Modified Half Lotus Yoga Pose is fantastic for opening the hips and promoting flexibility while grounding and centering the body through breathing and awareness. By practicing this pose with a focus on the breath, you can achieve a sense of inner well-being, improving your ability to tackle challenges with a positive mindset.

“Each of these BODYBALANCE poses integrates physical relaxation with mental clarity and awareness of breath, which is key to reducing anxiety and fostering a focused, positive mindset.”

BODYBALANCE is a workout combining elements of yoga, tai chi and Pilates, designed to improve flexibility, strength and mindfulness through controlled breathing and low-impact movement. If you’re interested in incorporating yoga into your fitness routine, check out our beginners guide to yoga for men.