I have more new students these days telling me that their doctors told them to try yoga for health and stress reduction. The practice of yoga can help strengthen our physical body, teach us how to breath more effectively and in addition help us deal with stress.
A study from Harvard that concludes, “75-85% of all doctor’s visits are stress related and only 3% of the time is anything prescribed to help reduce stress.”
This is why I believe there is a rise in the desire to proscribe yoga to help deal with stress and the aliments it can contribute to and strengthen our body and mind.
We hear that word “stress” and it is associated with many aliments and illnesses but how does it actually contribute to them?
The term “stress” was actually coined by Hans Selve in 1936: The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.
He observed numerous laboratory studies done on animals where stimuli such as a loud noise, intense light or temperature exposure would cause the same pathological changes of stomach ulcerations, shrinkage of lymphoid tissue and the enlargement of the adrenals. Then he noted that persistent stress could cause these animals to develop various diseases similar to those seen in humans such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. (www.stress.org)
The stimuli we are facing today from what we see, feel, hear, read and sense is constantly causing changes inside our body. Our autonomic nervous system is the pathway for these stimuli. In simple terms we have two pathways: sympathetic, the fight/flight/freeze response and parasympathetic rest/digest/repair response. We are meant to switch back and forth so we can flee if we are in danger then repair, regenerate and heal when we feel safe. We are spending more time in our fight/flight mode and not enough time in our rest/repair mode. The chronic illnesses of today are because we are constantly stimulating the fear response and not enough time in the healing zone.
Yoga teaches us tools that help stimulate the healing pathway inside our body and mind. We use breathing techniques, called pranayama, mindfulness and awareness to take a break from all the pressures of life. We practice getting out of our heads and connect to our true inner nature of peace. Yoga is empowering and teaches us to take care of our physical body and mind so we can be healthy and happy.