By Faye Martins
There are a many different techniques that Yoga teachers can give to students as help to move beyond stress. The feeling of stress in the body often feels like constriction of muscles, difficulty breathing deeply, a low level of constant anxiety that manifests as shallow breathing, and a slightly-increased heart rate. Stress in the mind can manifest as circular, obsessive thinking patterns in an attempt to control a certain situation or person. Stress in the mind can also impact an individual’s ability to think clearly and to remember well. Yoga addresses and alleviates all of these different symptoms of stress.
One of the primary ways that Yoga helps a practitioner to relieve stress is just the sheer act of getting “on the mat” and focusing on one task in particular, doing Yoga. Often, many of us are extremely busy and over-scheduled. We have careers, families to attend to, our own health to care for, and possibly volunteer commitments.
Yoga Today and Yogic Remedies for Modern Stress
In addition, there are so many electronic devices that keep us wired into the grid at all hours of the day and night, we often feel obligated to “be on” even during our off time. This unrelenting life pace can create great stress in the body. Slowing down enough to practice Yoga for thirty minutes or an hour helps to calm the mind and body by focusing on one task at a time. This practice of dharana (a spiritual exercise that helps one focus on a single point, or thought) is one of the primary ways in which Yoga helps to alleviate stress.
The physical postures of Yoga help to relieve and release stress and tension from the muscles and ligaments. The asanas also strengthen the body and help to increase circulation. Both a vigorous and restorative practice of Yoga asanas will help to release physical holding and tension from the muscle tissues. As the holding patterns in the muscles and ligaments release, mental tension is released as well.
The asanas also re-align the spine, which helps to increase the free flow of prana or life-force energy throughout the entire body. Stress and muscular tension often cause us to feel more tired than we really are and contribute to mental tension as well. As the tension is released, optimal spinal alignment is restored and energy flows more freely. At the completion of a Yoga class a student will feel that the sensation of tiredness and stress is eased and replaced with a feeling of lightness, expansiveness, and complete well-being.
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