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Yoga and stress management

Stress is an important and beneficial aspect of our daily lifestyle. Stress has a bad reputation in the modern world but we all need stress for learning, creativity, getting things done on time – we need it to survive.

However, before you raise that eyebrow, we would like to concur that stress can be bad for you too. It becomes detrimental to human health when it hits you in overwhelming levels, thus causing a nervous system imbalance. Fortunately and unfortunately, stress has become a very common factor in the modern world. Fortunately – because, this gives the world more reasons to find foolproof techniques to prevent and treat it.

You cannot escape from stress

Think about all the stressors in your life. Do these include family, relationships, work, etc.? Do you think you can live without any of these things? You can’t because none of us wants a void in our life. We need to be busy and we need to utilize our skills in the most productive manner even if it causes complications and stress in our life. Therefore, change the way you perceive stress and emotional pressure.

How stress affects your body

In order to tackle stress, you need to understand the kind of impact it has on your mind.

During a stressful event, your mind triggers an immediate response called the “Fight or Flight” response. This is what allows you to survive. While this may save you from an emergency situation where fast action is required, constantly activating it and stressing your body will only exhaust it and deplete its positive energy – thus, wreaking havoc in your internal systems, such as your immune and digestive system.

However, you can trigger a relaxation response and put your elevated stress mode at a steady halt. This will bring your mind, body and soul into an equilibrium state.

How yoga can help

You’ve tried it once, it didn’t work or you didn’t try it at all. Whatever your reason for avoiding yoga is, dump it now and give it a try. But stick to it this time.

The American Council on Exercise discovered that regular practice of yoga increased flexibility of yoga practitioners from 13 to 35 percent. Therefore, if you’re alien to yoga or don’t feel flexible enough to morph yourself into a human pretzel, take heart because the most advanced practitioners were beginners once too. The only disadvantage associated with yoga is that it requires patience and practice to work towards advanced postures. However, even basic, modified postures have the same effects on your mind-body-soul as the difficult ones.

Yoga comes from the word “yoke” which means to bring together in the sense that it brings your mind, body and soul together. Yoga brings numerous benefits from physical and aesthetic transformations to mental, emotional and spiritual enhancement.

Yoga focuses on two key factors: breathing and posture. It incorporates a series of stationary postures and moving poses along with deep breathing and relaxation. Not only does yoga reduce stress and anxiety, it also improves strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Moreover, it also alleviates several bodily ailments such as constipation, gas, headaches and nausea. Research also suggests that yoga may increase longevity in practicing adults.

Breathing control is critical in yoga. Your breathing represents vital energy. It is a medium through which you expel the toxins from your body and thus, should be done effectively and mindfully. Through yoga, you can understand how breath control can help you quiet and relax your mind and calm your body.

Not sure about yoga and want to try other things to manage stress?  See the Patient QI stress and anxiety treatment strategy.

 Stress and anxiety treatment strategy

References

  1. J Nurs Res.doi: 10.1097/jnr.0b013e3182829d6d. Effects of Hatha yoga on stress in middle-aged women.
  2. Int J Gynaecol Obstet.2009 Mar;104(3):218-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2008.11.013. Epub 2008 Dec 25. Effect of integrated yoga on stress and heart rate variability in pregnant women.
  3. West Indian Med J.2004 Jun;53(3):191-4. Role of yoga in stress management
  4. BMC Complement Altern Med.2014 Nov 15;14(1):445. [Epub ahead of print] An explorative study of metabolic responses to mental stress and yoga practices in yoga practitioners, non-yoga practitioners and individuals with metabolic syndrome.
  5. Cogn Behav Ther.2006;35(1):3-10. Stress management: a randomized study of cognitive behavioural therapy and yoga.

 

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