Got Stress? So What Are You Going to Do About It? Part 3

So – what exactly is “stress”? Glad you asked. Stress is the natural reaction of the body to any demand placed upon it. These demands can be either physical (like running from a dangerous situation) or psychological (deadlines, worry, embarrassment, etc). At some point in the history of man the pendulum shifted from major stressors being those that were physical (running from a saber tooth tiger) to psychological (dealing with the demands of a promotion at work).

Stress can be caused by pleasant or unpleasant circumstances. A wedding can be as stressful as a funeral. Stress hormones are secreted into the blood stream regardless of the nature of the stressor. Dr. Hans Selye, MD said “…although we cannot avoid stress as long as we live, we can learn a great deal about how to keep its damaging side-effects, ‘distress’ to a minimum.”

Practicing yoga is a way that some people find effective in managing stress and keeping its damaging side-effects to a minimum.

yo·ga noun \ˈyō-gə\

Medical Definition of Yoga

1 capitalized : a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
2 a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote bodily or mental control and well-being

Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to acihieve peacefulness of body and mind. it helps a person to relax and manage the negative impact that stress and anxiety can create. Yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve heart function. Yoga is considered a mind-body type of complementary and alternative medicine practice. It can have a meditative type effect and almost anyone can do it.

Different Types of Yoga Today Include:

Amrit Yoga, Children’s Yoga, Integral Yoga, Mysore Yoga, Svastha Yoga, Anahata Yoga, Dru Yoga, ISHTA Yoga, Power Yoga, Taoist Yoga, Ananda Yoga, Forrest Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Siddha Yoga, Viniyoga, Anusara Yoga, Flow Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Gitananda Yoga, Kali Ray TriYoga, Svaroopa Yoga, Yin Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Pre/Post-Natal Yoga, Satyananda Yoga

Yoga is not a religion and while its origins are rooted in ancient Indian philosophy and spirituality, many classes taught in the United States today solely focus on the physical aspect of the practice. With so many different types of yoga, it is easy to find a style that appeals to you.

I primarily practice Ashtanga yoga. It is a physically demanding style of yoga that requires a great deal of concentration and focus. Movement is linked to breath. It is inherently stress reducing in that it is difficult to worry about anything other than the practice while practicing. It is also difficult to remain in a state of anxiousness when having to concentrate on breathing deeply and the movement or pose the breath is linked to. I must quiet my mind in order to fully participate in the practice. I have found that I must be totally present and aware of my body during my Yoga practice. This is true no matter what style of yoga I am practicing.

Yoga classes are readily available in most metropolitan areas. Classes range in price. You don’t need to attend class at a fancy studio or even the local fitness center in order to reap the powerful benefits of yoga. Countless videos/DVDs, audio recordings and online yoga practices make Yoga accessible to most people. If you are new to yoga it may benefit you to try a DVD or online class in the comfort of your own home to find out if you like it. This may help you to become comfortable with the basic poses, breathing technique and terminology used. Alternatively you can step out of the comfort zone and try a class at a local studio. Many offer great deals for new students.

My husband and I joined a studio in Maui for a week and rented mats while vacationing there and it was a wonderful experience. We had been practicing for a year or two by that time and it was fun to practice with new instructors in a beautiful place. It helped us to relax even more deeply and de-stress even more completely during our vacation. Give yoga a try. It is a proven stress reducer and has so many other associated health benefits. It just might work for you.

Seek Your Om Balance – Terri