Stress and Yoga
According to www.stress.org – an organization dedicated to educating people on stress and its effects – 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress including fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, and muscle tension.
A whopping 73% of people experience psychological symptoms caused by stress like irritability or anger, anxiousness, lack of energy, or feeling the need to cry.
All of that from STRESS… Is it ruining your life?
Living in our modern world is awesome. It’s fun, fast-paced and convenient! But, let’s face it… Living in the modern world is also… stressful!
Take a moment to think about what creates stress in your life. I’ll wait.
We as yogis aren’t impervious to stress, we can meditate all we want, but can we actually avoid it?
Stress is a mentally and emotionally disruptive condition that is created in response to adverse external influences as seen in the dictionary. It can actually be a good thing for health and safety but also can wreak havoc on your mental and physical bodies.
I know you’re saying, how is stress good for me? Well, it sends more oxygen to the brain so we can be sharper, quicker, and helps us solve problems easier.
But if you are constantly getting bombarded with stress in our lives then we have an excess, and as good yogis we know excess is unbalanced and just plain overwhelming.
You want to eliminate chronic stress as much as possible as it causes many negative effects in our lives. It affects our immune, endocrine and nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, muscular and reproductive systems.
That sums up the entire body! Why would we want anything to mess with our entire being? You don’t! Keep reading to find out how Yoga comes into play!
Let’s dig a little deeper!
The release of cortisol over long periods of time creates inflammation and prevents histamine secretion. This can actually delay our healing process and can increase chances of viral infections.
On a good note, a little stress can actually heal wounds, but how many serious wounds do you get in your life vs battling constant inflammation due to chronic stress.
Yoga Journal published a piece that expertly sums up how different Yoga poses can help boost your immune system and how meditating for only 20 minutes a day can decrease your daily cortisol production.
Endocrine & Nervous System:
Adrenaline & cortisol. Your 2 great friends that play go, go, go in the fight or flight responses. Now this is great if you are getting chased by a bear and need to run 10 x’s faster to save your life, but do we need constant pumping of these chemicals in our adrenals? NO.
If there are symptoms of chronic stress, your CNS (Central Nervous System) never shuts down or goes back to normal causing depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Using yoga we can battle this overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol by practicing asana, using mulabhanda and meditation. Don’t take my word for it, read from the Harvard Health blog how meditation eases stress and its physical & psychological effects.
Respiratory & Cardiovascular System:
Deep breathing. Slowing down the inhales & exhales is a great way to combat the effects of chronic stress on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Stress causes us to breathe faster and more shallow, causes your blood vessels to constrict and raise your blood pressure. By relaxing and practicing pranayama as well as poses like sun salutations, we actually can help the heart slow down and work less.
The American Heart Association posted this on their blog about Yoga and cardiovascular health.
When we are under chronic fight or flight our bodies, the liver in particular, produces extra sugar. If you have excess sugar and your body can’t use or transform it, then diseases like diabetes can creep into your life.
Stress can also cause ulcers, nausea and/or vomiting. It will also prevent absorption of nutrients which can cause additional symptoms of fatigue and not feeling “well”.
At the end of the day our yogic practices create a sense of overall calm in the body and mind. Savanna is a sure way to allow our bodies to rest, our muscles to let go of tension and to realign our minds to let go.
With a daily practice of meditation, pranayama and asana, guaranteed your body will be more prepared to battle stressors! Also understanding that stress is not caused by external sources is HUGE! We must not let negative situations or people get to under our skin – literally!
There are many tools to combat chronic stress with Yoga & meditation at the center, we just need to use them. Start by checking out my Yoga For Beginners: Sun Salutations video.
Find this post helpful?! Please share it with anyone you feel could use some de-stressing!
For all of my Yoga Teachers, this is a MUST READ! >>> The REAL Reason I Quit Being A Yoga Teacher
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