How and why Yoga Helps to Eliminate Stress
Who did not happen to be particularly stressed in some periods of life?
It’s a bad feeling that everyone sooner or later we tried. This problem, due to the wrong lifestyle that is being led into our society, is a very widespread problem and is becoming more and more common. There are many ways to eliminate stress but without a doubt yoga is among the most effective.
In this article I will go to talk about what causes the cause and I will give you numerous tips to completely eliminate the stress from your life, thanks to yoga and meditation.
What is stress and what it originates from
Do you know that stress is positive in nature? It may seem like a paradox but it is just like that.
Stress stems from the need to face a negative situation that can damage our lives.
In short, when we find ourselves in danger, the body puts in place a series of changes to better cope with this situation, and it is precisely the stress that increases the chances of survival.
What happens to the body when it is stressed?
In our body begins to circulate adrenaline and cortisol , two hormones that affect the functioning of many organs.
The heart pumps stronger and faster, increasing the pressure; breathing is accelerated; the airways dilate to send more oxygen to the body; the sugars in the blood increase to provide more energy to the body; some blood vessels shrink to reduce blood flow in some areas such as the skin, while other vessels dilate to increase it, in order to better irrigate the most important organs such as the brain.
The mind is hyper-alert and the body becomes stronger and faster. All of this in dangerous situations can save our lives.
And so it happens to hear incredible stories like a mother raising a car to free her child trapped under it, or a fireman who can transport a person 2 times heavier than him out of a burning building.
All of this is about stress.
In our society
All these responses of our body to this stimulus are an extremely effective method for dealing with certain situations, but they should only be activated sporadically, only when one is really in danger.
The problem stems from the fact that all this happens daily : when we are worried about work, taxes to pay, uncertainty about the future, sentimental relationships, traffic, and thousands of other reasons that have nothing to do with real danger situations.
The result is that our bodies are in constant state of tension, ready for combat and this brings a series of physical problems .
The results that the body undergoes are the same symptoms that create the “stress hormones” when they are released. Increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, increased blood sugar and indigestion.
Furthermore, the platelets in the blood become more sticky. In a dangerous situation this would be a great advantage because, if we were injured, the blood would coagulate faster but in daily life it is not at all. This greatly increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
But how can we realize this?
The symptoms to be monitored are:
Neck and shoulders stretched .
It is easily irritable.
Loss of appetite.
Sleep problems .
The parasympathetic nervous system comes to the rescue.
All stress responses are activated by the sympathetic nervous system that sends stimuli to the body, and so we have all the consequences of which I have just spoken.
But there is another component of the autonomic nervous system that can help us: the parasympathetic nervous system.
This system, when activated, suppresses the threat of danger and activates our sense of balance. The heartbeat slows down, the pressure decreases and the breathing becomes deeper.
And not only.
This system improves digestion, strengthens the immune system and we are invaded by a sense of well-being.
Usually, without realizing it, we reach this state of tranquility on holiday.
The biggest problem is another in my opinion: we have come to accept stress as normal and be completely relaxed when we are on vacation, but it should be absolutely the opposite.
But yoga can reverse this trend.
We will now go to see more in detail how this discipline can help alleviate the symptoms of stress.
Yoga: the best way to make stress disappear
Many stress relief systems fail for one simple reason: they think the problem is external.
It is not so!
The problem is internal and is in our mind.
It often happens that the mind creates stress even if we do not find ourselves in a real danger situation. But the good news is that, although the mind is the problem, it can become a real healing tool.
[Tweet “The mind makes man a slave; on the other hand, the same mind can free it. #yoga “]
The yoga , with time, it helps us understand the everyday concerns are not really important.
You probably already know the relaxing effects that have in practice the asanas . Positions help us to move more consciously, strengthen the body and make us focus on the breath.
It is precisely the slow, deep and natural breath that is practiced during the asanas that makes stress disappear and restores the sense of tranquility.
This is perhaps one of the reasons that made yoga so popular in the West.
But yoga comes deeper. It re-establishes the natural way of breathing that is often lost, teaches us to relax consciously and gives us a great opportunity to explore our mind .
Of course it should be practiced constantly, not just a few lessons once in a while to get great results.
But what is the relationship between stress and breathing?
Let’s go find out together.
Stress and breathing
The ancient yogis discovered that breathing, normally automatic, has profound effects on the nervous system, if controlled consciously, and that can be used both to increase the body’s activity and to promote relaxation .
By practicing yoga, one realizes how the breath can greatly affect the mood and how it can be used to change one’s mood .
[Tweet “Breath is the most important tool in the practice of #yoga”]
When practicing, one focuses on many aspects related to breathing: on the completeness of breathing, on its slowing down, but also on the harmony between inhalation and exhalation, which is often lost during everyday life.
Stress produces a series of effects on the breath, all of which are negative. According to yoga, abnormal breathing is both a consequence and a cause of stress .
If you slow your breath and start breathing more slowly, you will calm down. Just think about when we are in a situation where we are losing control.
What do you do first?
It takes a deep breath that helps to calm down.
This is a demonstration of how much the breath affects our behavior.
But to know how to best use this excellent tool that the body makes available to us, we must be able to breathe correctly, which is often underestimated. To do this you need to know how to use diaphragmatic breathing .
Now let’s go into it together.
To experience the profound effects you have with yoga it is of fundamental importance to know and know how to use the diaphragm correctly.
This is a large, thin dome-shaped muscle, located exactly between the rib cage and abdomen. Organs like the heart and the lungs rest on it, while below are all the abdominal organs.
When breathing is correct during inspiration, the diaphragm moves downward and the abdomen is pushed slightly out. Instead, during the exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes, returns to the top and the belly returns. If you breathe in the right way, you notice that the rib cage does not move much.
When stressed, it often happens that the way to breathe changes : the diaphragm contracts when it should be relaxed and vice versa. This way of breathing is similar to when we get scared, and breathing in this way, it is as if we are communicating to our nervous system that we are in constant danger.
How does diaphragmatic breathing work?
Diaphragmatic breathing works by activating the vagus nerve. This nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system and originates from the brain. From here it branches off and goes to innervate almost all thoracic and abdominal organs.
It is of fundamental importance as it is responsible for a series of calming effects .
Of all the processes regulated by the autonomic nervous system (heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc.) only breathing can be controlled .
But how does breathing cause calming effects?
In short, by controlling diaphragmatic breathing, we stimulate the vagus nerve through its ramifications that are located on the diaphragm. In doing so, the nerve carries messages to the other organs it innervates, and so there is a calming effect.
Now let’s see a useful exercise, which you can do wherever you are when you feel stressed.
A useful yoga exercise
Lie in a supine position in Savasana and observe your natural breath without changing it.
At this point begins to perform a more conscious breathing
Exhale, slightly contract the abdominals, moving the navel towards them.
Inhale, release the tension of the abdominals and, without any effort, let the abdomen swell naturally.
Continue breathing this way for a few minutes.
Usually most people report feeling more relaxed.
The next step is to do the same exercise in a sitting position. Once you have learned well, you can resort to this exercise, which is very simple but very useful, whenever you notice that you are stressed and breathe in an unnatural way.
Meditation vs stress
Meditation is another method that can be very useful if you feel stressed.
It helps us to understand our mental state giving us the opportunity to observe our mind from a different neutral point of view.
If I can make a comparison it is like observing a storm from a room’s glass.
The peace that can be felt when we look at the mind and our thoughts from the outside, is a beautiful sensation that immediately makes any form of stress disappear .
When you begin to meditate, the mind will be uncontrollable and will begin to surface any form of thoughts. This will continue to happen but you do not have to worry about it.
You must try to bring your mind back repeatedly to the object of meditation, be patient and without judgment. At times it may seem as if thoughts were projected from the mind into a screen that is in front of you.
The ability to simply distinguish between you, as an observer, and the thoughts of your mind, means that you can react with absolute equanimity and freedom, rather than reacting instinctively to stress.
The more you practice meditation, the more you will be able to distinguish between what is real and what is not, between what is really a threat to life or a simple banality. In time you will see clearly that everything that causes stress in you is nothing serious but just nonsense .
As a result, instead of reacting as you have reacted so far, you can simply sit still, use diaphragmatic breathing and be simply an observer, just as you would during meditation.
This is not easy initially. Especially when you are in the middle of traffic, at work you are scolded or in any other situation that can cause you stress.
The ability to eliminate stress will come with time, especially when you practice yoga and do meditation regularly . But if you are patient you will be able to acquire it and to defeat stress every time it shows up.
I really hope that this article will be for you a starting point for reflection on what stress really is, what it is caused by and how with a little practice you can control it.
Stress is just one of many problems that can be eliminated thanks to yoga. This discipline brings many other benefits to the practitioner and so, if you have not yet started, you could start practicing today.