S tress is a common condition, a response to a physical threat or psychological distress, that generates a host of chemical and hormonal reactions in the body. In essence, the body prepares to fight or flee, pumping more blood to the heart and muscles and shutting down all non-essential functions. As a temporary state, this reaction serves the body well to defend itself. However, when the stress reaction is attenuated, the normal physical functions that have been either exaggerated or shut down in response become dysfunctional in this extreme state. Many have noted the benefits of exercise in diminishing the stress response. A host of studies points to the benefits of such exercise. Yoga, too, has been recommended and studied in its relationship to stress, although the studies are less scientifically replicable. Nonetheless, several researchers claim highly beneficial results from Yoga practice in alleviating stress and its effects. The practices recommended range from intense to moderate to relaxed asana sequences, plus pranayama and meditation. In all these approaches to dealing with stress, one common element stands out: the process is as important as the activity undertaken. Because it fosters self-awareness, Yoga is a promising approach for dealing with the stress response.
Are you looking to get stronger and live or do you want to get weaker and die.
Yogic techniques for stress relief
Stressed out individuals carry a great deal of physical tension in their bodies. In these cases the natural unblocking effected by yoga postures are helpful. When one rests between postures, abdominal tension is released from the body promoting deep breathing. The benefits of yoga postures (asana), breathing (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) include increased body awareness, release of muscular tension and increased coordination between mind-and body. It helps in better management of stress and ensures an overall feeling of well being. Some custom made yogic techniques include Sudarshan Kriya by Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sahaja Samadhi by Ma Anandmayee and Kriya Yoga by Paramashansa Yogananda-are three widely practiced techniques of yoga devised by three epoch making spiritual gurus.
Yogic breathing techniques
The ancient therapeutic traditions as well as modern medical research speaks about the intimate relationship between our breathing patterns and our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. They have shown how natural healthy respiration not only increases longevity and supports our overall well-being and self-development, but also helps in medical conditions such as asthma, poor digestion, insomnia, low energy, high blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, heart ailments, and many other problems.
Yoga offers many breathing skills for stress-affected individuals. These yogic breathing techniques are termed as `pranayama` (prana+ayama). Roughly `prana` can be explained as the vital life force that regulates all activities in this universe. `Ayama` has a wide range of meaning; the most appropriate here is `control or regulation`. According to yoga, pranayama consists of various ways of inhaling, exhaling and retention of prana. This prana is inter-linked with consciousness (citta) both at the cosmic and individual levels. Pranayama is devised by yoga to create a synergy between the self-energizing life force and individual mind-body-spirit by scientific regulation of prana.
Perhaps the simplest form of pranayama is nadi shodhanam (channel purification), which consists alternate nostril breathing, suitable for everybody. Nadis are subtle nerve channels through which prana flows. In Sanskrit, Shodhana means `cleansing`. According to yoga there are 14 major nadis and prana flows in and out of them controlling all our mind-body functions. Nadi shodhanam works to unblock tensions and resistance in the energy-conveying channels of the gross and subtle bodies, thus calming and strengthening sensitive nerves. Conscious breathing through cleansed nadis allows more oxygen inflow and effective excretion of toxins from within. This brings about a healthful state both in body and mind.