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Tips on how to cope with exam stress

Natalie Robertson, of Rise Yoga Studio Lichfield which incorporates the only dedicated aerial yoga studio in the UK.

With thousands of students collecting A Level and GCSE Exam results, we spoke to yoga expert Natalie Robertson for some tips on how to alleviate anxiety around Results Day in 2022.

How to use yoga and breath work for coping with anxiety.

Managing stress and anxiety through yoga and breath work

Did you know there are a number of ways that yoga can help manage stress and alleviate symptoms of anxiety?


The physical practice of yoga allows us to move our bodies and to connect our body to our breath.

The physicality of the poses themselves allow our bodies to release endorphins – these are hormones in our brain and nervous systems that have a physical impact on our bodies and how they react to situations we face.

This group of hormones includes dopamine, which the body releases to counteract stress, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasurable sensations, helping improve learning and memory, regulating mood and promoting better sleep quality.

In yoga we are encouraged to focus on connecting our body and our breath by staying in the present moment, therefore giving you a break from thinking about exams, or situations that are stressful or anxiety inducing.

Yin yoga practice can promote better sleep quality and help people fall asleep quicker. 

In yin yoga the poses are held for 3 minutes, encouraging the body to release tension in the soft tissues, allowing the body to physically relax.

Breathwork and how to stimulate the vagus nerve to relax body and mind

Pranayama or breathwork in yoga is particularly effective in managing stress and anxiety, as it stimulates the vagus nerve, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” activities in our bodies. 

Different emotions are connected to different breath patterns, so if we breathe in a certain way we start to feel that way.

When we are stressed or anxious, we often take quick shallow breaths, so by changing that breath pattern, slowing it down, we make the body feel that it is a more relaxed state. 

Changing the rhythm of your breath slows your heart rate, stimulates the vagus nerve and decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure. 

The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, and by triggering it we start to feel calmer and our ability to think rationally is improved. 

The vagus nerve passes through all the major systems in our body, cardiovascular, digestive and reproductive system.

It communicates what’s happening elsewhere in the body, and its responsible for that “gut feeling” that we all have.  

Increased stimulation of the vagus nerve allows the body to relax quicker and after being in stressful situations, like exam results day.


Meditation is also a useful tool for dealing with stress and anxiety.

During meditation we can focus our minds on something calming instead of our stress or anxiety triggers, focusing on the present moment.

It can also help you to gain a new perspective on stress and anxiety triggers and promotes feelings of relaxation and calm.


You don’t need to have hours to commit to yoga practice, just a few minutes a day of doing breathwork, such as breathing in for a count of 4 and breathing out for a count of 7, for just 5 minutes is enough.

For more on Rise Yoga Studio Lichfield visit them on Instagram here at or on Facebook here.

By Natalie Robertson, of Rise Yoga Studio Lichfield which incorporates the only dedicated aerial yoga studio in the UK.

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