As we adjust the clocks preparing for more hours of sunlight, we slowly learn to…
‘Having lots of money while not having inner peace is like dying of thirst while bathing in the ocean’
– Paramahansa Yogananda
Stress has become such an integral part of our life, we barely remember the last time we were actually stress-free. Our mind is like the time machine dwelling in the future, present, and past all at once. One of the leading causes of mental health issues is stress. According to the studies conducted, more than 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health and more than 73% of people have stress that affects their mental health.
What is Stress?
Stress is a state of emotional and physical tension. Its the body’s reaction to an upcoming challenge or demand which we are not prepared for. Stress is naturally occurring in our bodies and the major marker is the increase of cortisol secretion in our body. Everyone has different kinds of stresses in our lives, yoga provides us successfully with mastering the art of navigation through stress to move above and beyond it.
How does Yoga reduce stress?
Yoga is one of the oldest practices although only recently has been acclaimed worldwide for its major contribution to improve physical and mental health. It has been known as the antidote to stress and anxiety by numerous medical practitioners and psychologists. Its effective combination of the stress-reducing techniques like exercise and breath control along with instilling the profound practice of mindfulness.
Hatha Yoga is the practice of physical yoga postures intended to stretch and strengthen one’s body. Any kind of workout releases the feel-good and happy hormone known as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. The increase of these hormones is correlated with the release of the stress hormone – cortisol. This also helps in reducing blood pressure and improving overall cardiac health. Exercising daily helps in improving ones quality of life.
It is beautiful how Yoga in detail explains how the temperamental changes are related to the Breath. Our breathing contains the prana – the vital life force of our physical bodies. It helps us to apply the breathing techniques co-related to managing our emotions. Although it is an involuntary act, when we choose to regulate our breath we realize how it is an efficiently quick way to combat stressful situations.
Clearing the mind
This is the most important point for navigating through stress successfully. Yoga successfully teaches you various techniques for training and mastering the monkey mind. As we bring awareness with each breath we are inextricably connected by being in the present moment by choice. This practice helps to energize and soothe our minds. For long-term stress management, we need to realize our stress comes from the way our minds function. When we let allow our minds to run on auto-pilot mode, which indicates to live unconsciously, we are at the mercy of our prior conditioning. Yoga can help us mature an awareness about how our own unique mind works and that awareness can help us live in a more conscious way further on.
Perhaps the most powerful tool yoga offers for stress release is meditation. It combines control of the breath and clearing of the mind with different techniques that help you focus. Meditation brings you to a state where both your body as your mind are relaxed. It will help you looking at your affairs from a different perspective and deal with life from a balanced state of mind.
Ayurvedic contributions to alleviating stress
Nature has a lot to offer that effects our body and mind in a positive way. Plants which are growing all around you can help releasing stress. This season all around you, on the sides of the road and in or around the fields you will see the white flowers of Chamomil. Even with a handful of these flowers you can make a cup of tea. Chamomil tea contains various anti-inflammatory and anti-phlogistic properties that contribute to its benefits. 2-4 cups of tea everyday shall help you relax and soother yourself in better manner. Another plant which is starting to flower is St. Johns worth. Fill a small jar with the yellow flowers, add oil, preferably sesame oil, keep it in a warm place and wait a few days for the oil to turn red. You have the perfect anti-stress massage oil.