In a world of extremes, it is high time for a mindful time-out.
How Yoga & Meditation reduces stress in the body.
The current state of affairs in our country is such that the population is constantly bombarded with stress-inducing stimuli, from the harried morning commute to the evening news. We very rarely, truly relax and it is taking its toll on families, communities, businesses… all relationships. Our lifestyles create tension in the body and without a conscious means of releasing that tension the body begins to falter; the mind and mental health can soon follow with anxiety and depression becoming the new norm. We find ourselves in the sympathetic nervous system, or fight/flight, the place where we can fight off the saber-toothed tiger or lift a car off a baby or run fast enough to catch our dinner. Spend enough time here and things get worse, i.e. in the case of trauma survivors and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
How do we release this tension? How do we balance it out? We must relax, truly relax which means engage the parasympathetic nervous system; the body’s antidote to fight/flight and the reliever of tension. Relaxing isn’t easy in this day and age; it’s hard to take the break our body’s need so much, but we must or things will eventually break.
Practices that bring awareness to the moment, also known as mindfulness, such as yoga and meditation have now been proven by modern science to ameliorate the effects of stress and tension. Science also shows that by controlling or shaping the breath, we can consciously engage the parasympathetic nervous system and down regulate at will. For some this can be a game-changer, providing enormous relief from the anxiety an over reactive nervous system can produce.
Yoga and meditation provide an easy access point for those interested in, or needing to relax and down regulate. Yoga primarily we see as physical postures, or asanas, shapes the body makes that are often linked together in a flow of movement. Anybody can do them, especially when we use the breath as our guide, regulating and shaping our breathing patterns and timings to achieve the desired result of entering the parasympathetic nervous system. Each posture ‘does something different’ for the body; different breathing patterns have the same phenomena! So, one could design a asana class to support energizing the body, helpful in the case of depression, or down-regulate for anxiety. Ideally, the practice leaves us in a balanced, or parasympathetic state, so that we can meditation
Here, too, we use the breath and when we combine breath awareness with a seated or supine meditation we are in true relaxation mode! This is the ‘place’ we must go to truly relax and when we do, we receive the benefits in greater health and vitality, peace and tranquility. Our lives get easier, the more we practice, not because things out there change, rather because we have conditioned our nervous systems to be less reactive and more resilient. We become more calm and peaceful; wouldn’t it be nice to provide calm and peace in your family’s and relationships, businesses and communities? We think it is…