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yoga for stress


Yoga minimizes the impact of stress on the individual. Yogic science believes that the regular practice of asanas and pranayama strengthens the nervous system and helps people face stressful situations positively.

We have all experienced the way unrelieved tension results in both mental disorders and physical ill-health. This is not a modern phenomenon. ln the centuries-old Yoga Sutras, the sage Pataniali attributed the causes of mental affliction to the ego, spiritual ignorance, desire, hatred of others, and attachment to life. He called these klesfias or "sorrows,"

origins of stress


Advances in science and technology modern civilization have triggered widespread feelings of competitiveness and envy. Financial tensions, emotional upheavals, environmental pollution, and, above all, a sense of being overtaken by the speed of events, have all increased the stress of daily life. All these factors strain the body, causing nervous tension, and adversely affecting the mind.

To deal with this, people turn to artificial solutions to cope with the pressures of daily life. Substance abuse, eating disorders, and destructive relationships are some of the substitutes people grasp at in their desperate search for consolation. But while these measures may provide temporary distraction or oblivion, the root cause of unhappiness-stress-remains unresolved.

Yoga is not a miracle cure that can free a person from all stress, but it can help to minimize it. Yogic science believes that the nerves control the unconscious mind, and that when the nervous system is strong, a person faces stressful situations more positively. Asanas improve blood flow to all the cells of the body, revitalizing the nerve cells. This flow strengthens the nervous system and its capacity for enduring stress.


relieving stress

The diaphragm is the seat of the intelligence of the heart and the window to the soul. During stressful situations, however, when you inhale and exhale, the diaphragm becomes too taut to alter its shape. Yogic exercises address this problem by developing elasticity in the diaphragm, so that, when stretched, it can handle any amount of stress.

The practice of asanas and pranayama helps to integrate the body, breath, mind, and intellect. Slow, effortless exhalation during practice of an asana brings serenity to the body cells, relaxes the facial muscles, and releases all tension from the organs of perception; the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.

When this happens, the brain, which is in constant communication with the organs of
action, becomes shunya, or void, and all thoughts are stilled. Then, invading fears and anxieties cannot penetrate to the brain. When you develop this ability, you perform your daily activities with efficiency and economy. You do not dissipate your valuable bio-energy. You enter the state of true clarity of intellect. Your mind is free of stress and is filled with calm and tranquility.

asanas & stress

The practice of asanas and pranayama is not just the most effective, but also the most natural therapy for stress, and unlike many other therapies, there is no danger of harmful side effects. While the effect of asanas and pranayama on the mind takes longer to be felt, with patience and dedication, you will soon discover a feeling of mental poise and well-being during and after your practice. While practicing asanas and pranayama, the five senses of perception that divert the mind to the external environment are drawn inward. When the restlessness of the mind is stilled, your entire being becomes calm and steady. The impact of negative stress is reduced, while the benefits of positive stress are enhanced, building up the resilience and flexibility of the nerves, organs, senses, mind, and intelligence to create a healthy mind and body.

active and passive practice

The only way to effectively combat the negative effects of every day-physical, psychological, and physiological stress is through a balanced combination of active and passive practice. "Passive practice" is yoga with props, since this helps to promote calmness of the mind, patience, and endurance. "Active practice," as the term suggests, is more vigorous, and generally refers to classical poses without the use of props. These poses, especially the standing poses and those involving back bends, help to build stamina, vitality, and flexibility. The balance between active and passive poses will vary from individual to individual and even from season to season.

As you gradually discover more and more about yoga and about your own body, you will be able to adjust the sequences of your practice, to achieve the ideal blend of active and passive poses.

From B.K.S. Iyengar's Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health