How can yoga help with stress?
Where do you hold stress? A clenched jaw, hunched shoulders, stiff neck, back pain, headaches, tight hips, restricted breathing or a busy mind?
We often underestimate the effect stress can have on our health and wellbeing, from muscle tension to high blood pressure to low energy. Most of us living in this modern wifi enabled world have trouble switching off, our senses are often overloaded with auditory and visual stimulation from living in a busy city, traffic, TV, smart phones etc. This constant overstimulation activates the sympathetic nervous system leaving us in a perpetual state of stress.
We can’t always physically get away from the noises and activity in our environment, but we can learn to defocus from them. If we can learn to be still and turn our senses inward even for a short time, our bodies and minds can rest and recharge.
We all have the ability to relax deeply even if we don’t know it. Relaxation is an inborn, integrated physiological process which we can easily trigger just by setting up the right conditions.
Through asana, pranayama, meditation, restorative yoga and guided relaxation (nidra) you can learn how to switch off and completely relax the body and mind. Yoga gives us a vast toolbox of techniques to make fundamental changes in the mind, the more we practice these the more they become automatic and the happier and more relaxed we become by nature. As you get deeper into your practice (through meditation) you will learn to disassociate yourself from your thoughts. Having the ability to observe your thoughts rather than act on them impulsively is for me one of the greatest gifts yoga gives us.
Some other key benefits
- The way we breathe reflects our state of mind and when we breathe in a particular way by choice or habit it affects our state of mind. Changing our relationship with our breath is one of the easiest ways to modify our consciousness and enhance our well-being.
- Enables you to give yourself permission to relax
- Achieve a meditative focus, meditation steadies the mind by reducing intensity of thought processes.
- Restore muscle & brain function, restores our ability to function in the world.
- Tight muscles use more energy which is why you feel tense and low in energy.
- Deep relaxation allows us to turn off as many of the brains functions as possible allowing the brain to rest and repair.
- Relax the nervous system and calm the mind.
- Release unconscious patterns of stress held in the body e.g. clenching the jaw
- Break the cycle of stress i.e. tension in the body creates tension in the mind, tension in the mind creates tension in the body.
- Decrease cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone)
- Lower blood pressure
- Create balance, giving people a sense of awareness and wellbeing in their body
Come along to my weekly class on Wednesdays 2.30-3.30 at triyoga Camden to experience for yourself exactly how you can use yoga to help manage your stress.