Well, even though you may not be able to actually experience a stay at a retreat, what if we told you there was a way in which you could replicate techniques used at wellness resorts at home? In this article, we will tell you about how you can use Yoga to manage your stress.
Yoga is a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, focusing on bringing harmony between the mind and body. This ancient practice has proved itself to cater to both the material and spiritual upliftment of humanity. According to yoga, stress is caused due to faulty coping mechanisms acting within our physical and mental systems. According to Saliya Amarathunga, head of wellness at Santani Resort and Spa, ’Yoga can help us to block our patterns of consciousness, including our flight or fight response. Thus, yoga addresses the very root of stress formation in our mind’. There are various yogic practices that deal with our external and internal responses to stressful situations. Three of the many practices that could help you manage stress are Asanas, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra.
The term ‘Asana’ derives from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘seat’. Asanas, commonly known as Yogic poses, are the most common Yogic practice and it incorporates postures used for meditation. During the body’s adaptation to stress, our bodily functions and systems are affected. Asanas bring about harmony in the functioning of our various bodily systems, which are closely interwoven, such as the circulatory, nervous, respiratory and digestive systems. The biggest influence Asanas have is on the functioning of the endocrine systems. During times of stress the hypothalamus signals to the endocrine glands to increase the production of cortisol which is the stress hormone. Therefore the practice of Asanas has a positive impact on the endocrine system, reducing the secretion of stress hormones. Certain Asanas such as Pawanmuktasana, Suranamaskar, Shasankasna, Paschimottanasana and Bhujangasana have been proven to be beneficial in stress management and stress-related problems.
Pranayama, the practice of breath regulation, is an exercise for physical and mental wellness. In Sanskrit, ‘prana’ means life energy and ‘Yama’ means control. The practice of pranayama involves breathing exercises and patterns in which you purposefully inhale, exhale and hold your breath in a specific sequence. Breathing is the most vital process of the body, influencing activities of each and every cell and is intimately linked with the performances of the brain. If you have noticed, when you are stressed or in a high-pressure situation, your breathing quickens. Rhythmic, deep and slow respiration stimulates calm and composed states of the mind. This is why pranayama is considered to be another highly effective technique in stress management. It counters the irregular breathing which can lead to inner conflict and a disordered life, by taking control of the breathing cycle and re-establishing the natural, relaxed rhythms of the body and mind. A 2013 study revealed that Pranayama reduced perceived stress levels in healthy young adults as it calms the nervous system and improves your stress response.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient yogic practice that is increasing in popularity as a form of meditation and mind-body therapy. It appears to work by changing the neuro-hormonal reactivity to stress. It is a systematic form of guided relaxation that is typically done for 35 to 40 minutes at a time. During this practice, the organs and systems of the body attain deep physiological rest and the body’s regenerative mechanisms are allowed to function. This rejuvenating energy forms the basis of optimal physical and mental health and allows for profound muscular, mental and emotional relaxation.
There are many more yogic practices that could help you with managing stress. But we hope that this brief introduction helped you understand how yoga could be used to relieve your tension as well as encourage you to try out this approach.