I am not suggesting yoga can make stress simply disappear through the sound of an Om or from one sun salutation. But what it most definitely can offer are stress-reduction techniques for anxious moments and also the option to delve deeper, transforming how the mind and body intuitively respond to stress. With enough practice we can train ourselves to react differently to stressful situations therefore reducing the negative effects of stress. Headaches, migraines, insomnia, anxiety are just a few of the consequences that can ail us if we don’t do something about the overuse of fight and flight mode also known as stress.
It’s not always a case of saying, “oh that’s ok” or “let it go” to every single encounter with stress but learning to engage the PARASYMPATHETIC nervous system (which is responsible for physical relaxation and emotional calm) instead of the SYMPATHETIC nervous system (where the body is flooded with hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine, which heighten the senses, increase heart rate and blood pressure). This allows us to react without housing the anger and aggression of the fight and flight reaction and actually be able to see the situation for what it is, clearly, calmly and in control.
A good way to understand how you respond to stress is to notice your reaction to poses you find stressful for example pigeon pose and pachimotanasana (forward bend). There is known to be a deep connection here between how we “are” in the body during these postures and how we manage our every day lives. One common response is to ignore sensations and force yourself forward, fighting against your tight hamstrings. Another is to come out of the pose to avoid the challenge entirely. Both strategies are variations on the same theme: fight-or-flight. In all likelihood, they create tense muscles and rapid or held breathing—not to mention a total lack of joy.
If you’re practicing yoga every day, you’re preparing for what life brings. When challenges arrive, you will start to notice they begin to flow through you but not overwhelm you. So when life hits us, as we all know it can, it doesn’t explode or suffocate us. We can avoid being caught up in the stress of it, yet we are fully present for it.
THANK YOU to all of you who made it possible to donate £320 towards the refugees crises and joined together at fringe.yoga for 108 sun salutations on Saturday! Wow, that was so challenging, heart warming and exhausting. Well done and thank you to you all. Collectively we raised over £2000 with all the other yoga studios that were also doing the challenge thanks to the Hope Collective who pulled it all together! Jodie and I thank all the teachers who led the salutations as well, the energy through it all was inspiring.