Stress is commonly defined as tension being applied to an object. Within the human body this can manifest emotionally, mentally, physically, or more often than not, all three. Stress is your body’s way of reacting to and coping (or not coping) with what it perceives as a threat – this could be an event (or events) or individual(s) that result in you feeling anxious, angry or frustrated.
Yoga is a fantastic and cost effective stress buster. While there are many strains of Yoga, most include a combination of physical poses (asanas), controlled breathing (pranayama) and guided relaxation (nidra) or meditation (Dhyna) to bring about a more harmonious mind-body connection. How important is this mind-body connection in stress alleviation?
When we are stressed our fight or flight reflexes kick in, knowingly or unknowingly draining the body as our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) switches on and our adrenal glands begin running on high alert. Breathing is impacted when we are stressed – often becoming shallower, we may even momentarily stop breathing and then struggle to take big gulping recovery breaths, further exacerbating our anxiety and leaving us feeling drained on a physical and mental level.
By mindfully looking to establish a stronger more controlled harmony between movement and breath we can significantly reduce perceived stress, and even lower our blood pressure and heart rates, coaxing our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) into action. The PNS has a wonderful counterbalancing effect on the drain of the SNS being on for often much longer periods than it should be. As the PNS kicks in, the body begins relaxing into the movement, our breathing deepens – calming us, while supplying more oxygen to the body, making for clearer thought and action.
As an added bonus Yoga is non-judgemental, so there is no added pressure making you feel that you need to compete – simply modify your movements as needed – almost anyone can do Yoga.
Consistent Yoga practice fosters greater body awareness, enabling us to identify the physical manifestations of stress and consciously allowing us to “let it go”. Yoga provides an excellent opportunity to learn to leave our worries behind while we focus on ourselves and what we are doing on the mat. Learning to be more in tune with yourself and your limitations, lets you work through discomfort with greater ease and makes success that much sweeter and better appreciated – this translates into everyday life (whether you are aware of it or not).
That’s it for now – see you all for playtime on the mat😉
Till next time – Keep it Light😘