Yoga A Cure For Modern Day Stress

Yoga A Cure For Modern Day Stress



As we​ walk the​ tightrope between modern life and our animal instincts,​ the​ human race strives to​ find balance. in​ our bodies,​ our minds,​ our environment,​ in​ our lives. With our brains over-stimulated and our bodies more sedentary than ever,​ many of​ us suffer from the​ fatigue and imbalance that comes from chronic stress without sufficient recovery. a​ yoga practice is​ an​ excellent way to​ soothe nerves that are in​ a​ constant state of​ overdrive. Yoga can help give us the​ ability to​ live healthy amidst hectic schedules and bustling environments. Why does it​ seem that as​ technology evolves at​ such epic pace we​ have less and less time at​ our disposal? Now more than ever we​ need to​ slow down,​ quiet our minds,​ take a​ deep breath...

Stress has become a​ chronic aspect of​ life for many of​ us; and it​ takes its toll. the​ nervous system senses continued pressure and remains slightly activated,​ producing extra stress hormones over an​ extended period of​ time. This can wear out the​ body’s reserves,​ leaving us feeling depleted or​ overwhelmed. Over time the​ immune system weakens causing illness and fatigue,​ mood swings,​ lack of​ focus,​ and irritability. Stress is​ implicated in​ many health problems from migraines and insomnia to​ lupus,​ MS,​ eczema,​ poor digestion,​ weight gain,​ high blood pressure,​ and heart attacks. in​ milder situations a​ little stress can keep us on​ our toes and help us to​ rise to​ a​ challenge. However,​ in​ today’s world chronic,​ unreleased stress has become prevalent and is​ taking a​ tremendous toll on​ our bodies as​ it​ diminishes our enjoyment of​ life.

In city living the​ constant noise,​ electricity,​ radiation,​ radiowaves,​ electromagnetic rays,​ and infra-red which surround us,​ create an​ ever-present stimuli that haggars the​ central nervous system. we​ do not yet know long term effects of​ this “white noise.” we​ may not consciously be aware of​ it,​ but our bodies register all that is​ going on​ around us. in​ our jobs and lifestyles we​ are often engaged in​ many tasks at​ once and feeling that we​ are constantly on​ the​ go,​ and that even when we​ do have a​ moment to​ spare we​ can’t seem to​ truly relax.

What is​ Stress?

In a​ challenging situation the​ human brain responds to​ stressors by activating the​ nervous system and specific hormones. the​ hypothalamus (located in​ the​ center of​ the​ brain) signals the​ adrenal glands to​ produce more of​ the​ hormones adrenaline and cortisol,​ and release them into the​ bloodstream. Heart rate,​ blood pressure,​ and metabolism increase,​ blood vessels open wider to​ allow more blood flow into large muscles groups,​ making our muscles tense and putting the​ brain on​ high alert. Pupils dilate to​ improve vision. the​ liver releases a​ dose of​ stored glucose to​ increase the​ body’s energy. Sweat is​ produced to​ cool the​ body. This chain reaction of​ physical effects happens to​ prepare the​ human being to​ react quickly and effectively,​ enabling them to​ handle the​ pressure of​ the​ moment. Cortisol is​ a​ natural steroid that raises your blood sugar level (so the​ muscles have plenty of​ fuel) and suppresses inflammation,​ but it​ also suppresses the​ immune system. the​ adrenal hormones are catabolic,​ which means they foster biological processes that burn energy and break down cellular structures. if​ you activate the​ adrenal glands over and over again without sufficient recovery in​ between,​ your body becomes depleted and exhausted.

Stress is​ necessary for the​ human to​ remain self-sufficient; to​ survive. in​ the​ jungle,​ ancient man conjured stress hormones when needed to​ fight a​ bear or​ a​ tiger,​ or​ to​ survive extreme weather conditions. With a​ concrete defensive action stress hormones in​ the​ blood get used up entailing reduced stress effects and symptoms of​ anxiety. in​ modern life some stress situations sharpen us; clear the​ cobwebs from our thinking,​ and stimulate faculties to​ attain our true potential. Each stage of​ human evolution happened by adapting in​ order to​ survive extreme conditions and stressors in​ our environment,​ as​ at​ this time the​ body is​ prepared to​ act with increased strength and speed while the​ mind is​ sharp and focused. Stress and a​ human response to​ stress is​ necessary.

However,​ what we​ need now is​ to​ learn to​ adapt to​ our new world,​ to​ handle the​ increase in​ milder but consistent stress in​ a​ better way and to​ learn to​ release before it​ affects us in​ a​ negative manner. When we​ fail to​ counter a​ stress situation these chemicals and hormones remain unreleased in​ the​ body and bloodstream for a​ long period of​ time. This leads to​ a​ long list of​ symptoms such as​ tense muscles,​ unfocused anxiety,​ dizziness and rapid heartbeat,​ and compels the​ mind-body to​ in​ an​ almost constant alarm state in​ preparation to​ fight or​ run away (known as​ the​ fight or​ flight response).

Accumulated stress can increase the​ risk of​ both acute and chronic psychosomatic illnesses,​ and cause everything from headaches,​ irritable bowel syndrome,​ frequent cold and fatigue,​ to​ diseases such as​ hypertension,​ asthma,​ diabetes,​ heart ailments and even cancer. Many medical doctors and psychologists go as​ far as​ to​ say that 70 – 90 % of​ visits by adults to​ primary care physicians are for stress related problems.**

How Yoga Affects Stress

Enhance the​ body’s natural functions:

To recover from the​ exhaustion associated with chronic stress,​ we​ need to​ do things that turn off the​ adrenal hormones and promote secretion of​ anabolic hormones. Certain yoga poses,​ such as​ inversions help to​ stimulate glands in​ the​ brain (Pituitary,​ Pineal). Moving into the​ ALPHA state is​ very important. the​ alpha state is​ considered the​ ideal waking state,​ where we​ reach the​ pinnacle of​ our creative thought process while the​ body is​ in​ a​ healing cycle. Alpha state is​ often attained during savasana; final resting pose in​ yoga practice.

Yoga’s smooth,​ deep,​ symmetrical breathing,​ twists,​ stretches and balancing postures help to​ enhance the​ body’s natural functions,​ keeping the​ spine,​ house of​ the​ nervous system supple,​ enhancing flow of​ fluids in​ the​ spine and stimulating glands and circulation of​ blood and lymph throughout the​ rest of​ the​ body. Muscles are lengthened and toxins are released. Pranayam (breath exercises) and poses such as​ cat where we​ roll along the​ spine with breath can help to​ flush and clear the​ lung tissue.

Yoga innately helps us to​ create balance; to​ know our bodies,​ to​ recognize when we​ are not balanced both on​ and off of​ the​ mat. On a​ purely physical level hatha yoga creates strength,​ flexibility,​ grace. Part of​ Yoga’s philosophy is​ to​ take the​ approach of​ strengthening and healing the​ body in​ the​ process of​ healing and cleansing the​ mind. Yoga views the​ body as​ having many layers. Asana (physical yoga postures) affect the​ body but also these deeper layers,​ en route to​ creating a​ whole,​ balanced self. Hatha yoga practice creates unobstructed energy flow.

Release Tension:

Stressed out individuals tend to​ carry a​ great deal of​ physical tension in​ their bodies. Yoga helps to​ unlock and release these tensions before they can accumulate over time and become chronic physical and psychological conditions. as​ we​ release physical blockages,​ toxins,​ and limitations from the​ body we​ also do so in​ mind,​ spirit,​ and emotions. the​ benefits of​ yoga postures (asana),​ breathing (pranayama),​ and meditation (dhyana) include increased body awareness,​ release of​ muscular tension and increased coordination between mind-and body which leads to​ better management of​ stress and cultivates an​ overall feeling of​ well being

During the​ resting poses in​ yoga such as​ child’s pose,​ abdominal tension is​ released. This allows internal organs to​ unwind promoting deep breathing and enhancing digestive and reproductive functions. This deep rest affords the​ central nervous system much needed time in​ ‘para-sympathetic’ mode (relaxed calm state,​ free of​ the​ “flight or​ flight” stress response) in​ order to​ recover and rejuvenate. Creating focus through a​ series of​ specific bodily poses also helps us to​ truly take our mind off of​ work and other stressors.

The Breath:

In normal conditions the​ body follows a​ natural breath pattern that is​ slow and fairly regulated. Under stress when the​ body shows symptoms such as​ tightening of​ muscles,​ distractions,​ anxiety,​ hyperactivity and angry reactions,​ breathing becomes quick and shallow. One tends to​ hold one's breath frequently. With restricted breathing inflow of​ oxygen is​ diminished. Lungs are unable to​ exhale the​ stale airs and residual toxins build up inside the​ body. Stiff muscles restrict the​ circulation of​ blood that so even less oxygen comes in​ and fewer toxins are removed. This in​ turn affects the​ healthy regeneration of​ cells and can accelerate aging and disease. Medical studies show that the​ oxygen-starved cells are the​ major contributing factors in​ cancer,​ immunity deficiency,​ heart disease and strokes. Breathing also affects our state of​ mind and consequently makes our thinking either confused or​ clear. Lengthening and deepening breath in​ yoga creates a​ more balanced state of​ being. a​ change in​ breath pattern creates a​ change in​ the​ metabolic process,​ emotions,​ endorphins,​ internal chemical reactions,​ and the​ release of​ specific hormones. Mind affects body; body affects mind.

Mind Body Connection:

The sensitivity that comes through a​ yoga practice helps to​ develop a​ level of​ skill in​ cultivating,​ observing and choosing one's posture,​ breath,​ emotions,​ and diet more wisely. as​ we​ practice we​ learn to​ listen with our bodies. Whenever we​ experience an​ emotion,​ our bodies register this emotion and mirror it. the​ next time you get angry,​ stressed,​ or​ afraid,​ stop and notice exactly what is​ happening in​ your own body in​ that moment. Which muscles got tense? How has your breath been affected? How did your posture change? is​ your heart beating faster? What affects you and why? Are you able to​ notice it​ as​ it​ happens?

Over time yoga helps us to​ let go of​ unwanted emotional and physical patterns. Yoga practice is​ great for providing recovery and can also help you deal with stressful circumstances without having such a​ strong negative reaction. the​ mindfulness – mind-body awareness cultivated with yoga practice allows us to​ realize emotions as​ they arise; sensing what is​ the​ cause of​ the​ emotion and how that emotion affects the​ body/mind. as​ Patanjali says in​ his Yoga Sutras**,​ “Yoga quells the​ fluctuations of​ the​ mind." it​ slows down the​ mental loops and patterns of​ frustration,​ regret,​ anger,​ fear,​ and desire that can cause stress. No matter what age,​ we​ can release past traumas,​ feelings of​ guilt or​ inadequacy,​ denial,​ patterns of​ feeling unable to​ communicate or​ connect,​ patterns of​ addiction,​ (all of​ which lead to​ more guilt and denial). we​ need to​ clear out these patterns in​ order to​ stay freshly alive or​ else there is​ an​ accumulation,​ a​ blockage,​ both physical and mental. we​ need to​ continually release these psycho/somatic holding patterns. as​ we​ release blockages,​ toxins,​ and tightness physically,​ we​ also do so in​ mind,​ spirit,​ emotions.

Awareness from the​ inside out and from the​ outside in​ are necessary. They are one in​ the​ same. Through a​ regular yoga practice we​ develop a​ balanced state on​ a​ consistent basis and this translates into our lives off the​ mat. we​ become better equipped to​ handle everything that comes our way in​ life; to​ handle life with more grace,​ ease,​ and presence,​ from a​ more objective point of​ view. By staying open we​ keep on​ top of​ the​ game,​ in​ the​ moment,​ able to​ truly enjoy each day to​ the​ fullest. the​ way we​ deal with coworkers and friends or​ family will innately be transformed. the​ very way we​ perceive things around us and who we​ are as​ a​ person from moment to​ moment will be transformed. Our sense of​ self-perception is​ the​ root of​ our own life. From here the​ world around us takes shape. as​ we​ become more aware of​ ourselves we​ are able to​ be less judgmental,​ more open,​ more honest,​ and take things less personally. True wisdom comes from within,​ from self knowledge and a​ clear eye.If you learn to​ quiet your mind,​ you'll be likely to​ live longer,​ and fuller,​ with better health. Yoga and meditation offer some of​ the​ same benefits as​ antidepressants-without the​ side effects.

It is​ no wonder yoga has soared to​ such heights of​ popularity. Through yoga practice we​ begin to​ find a​ sense of​ wholeness. we​ become more aware. we​ create balance in​ our bodies,​ in​ our minds,​ in​ our lives. as​ we​ evolve individually and come closer to​ an​ open,​ authentic state of​ being,​ we​ also evolve as​ a​ species,​ creating a​ better world for us all.




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