Stress management and reduction with Yoga
How do you know if have stress? The following are some stress symptoms:
- Mental, physical, emotional imbalance
- Respiratory, blood pressure, and heart rate go up from the release of stress hormones
- Increased perspiration
- Stomach unease / sensations
- Memory loss
Stress is a state of alertness to react to potentially dangerous situations, to either run away or defend oneself. Stress hormones increase to prepare the body to be alert to fight or to flee.
Normally, stress hormone levels return to normal when the stressful situations are gone, but the stress hormone levels that are consistently high lead to stress. In fact, there is a compounding effect: stress often creates more stress. The body is then in a continuous state of alertness, which drains energy and causes body and mind exhaustion. This finds expression in weakness, confusion, and/or loss of memory.
Both negative and positive life events may cause stress as joyous events like getting married and/or giving birth can cause stress. Positive stress, aka eustress, can be good too–inspiring you to get things done.
But situations of themselves are not stressful, only our reactions can be stressful. It is your response to the event that disturbs equilibrium, which creates physiological stress.
To control stress, then, we control our mental reactions through yogic relaxation techniques. Stress affects the mind first, then the body, so controlling stress in the mind automatically controls stress in the body.
How to control stress and relax:
- Slow down your life–don’t expect everything at the same time.
- Aim for small goals but aim for them repeatedly over time—a chain of small, slow steps to achieve a big goal.
- Increase stress tolerance so as to train yourself to handle stress.
- Establish a social network of support with family and friends with whom to share feelings, to speak out, to be listened to.
The following are yogic stress control techniques:
- Yoga nidra visualization is the most powerful relaxation technique in yoga, to consciously dream ourselves relaxed.
- Breath control / pranayama is the second most powerful technique in yoga, because through it we control our mind and relax it.
- Concentration reduces stress because only one sense is at work when you concentrate on a candle flame, for example, and the other senses are relaxed.
- Omkar (aka om) chanting or listening to any music you enjoy, because the sound of vibrations are good for you.
I’ll be writing a separate article on yoga nidra, which has helped me relax and reduce stress almost instantaneously.