When was the last time you heard yourself or someone say 'I'm stressed'? Or perhaps you just witnessed someone in the throes of stress and they didn't realise it. It was probably fairly recently. As people try and cram more and more into already over-flowing lives, sadly, it seems to have become the modern-day catch-cry.
Stress will mean different things to different people, depending on our personality tendencies and our upbringing. And you how identify and manage your stress can make a huge difference in how you feel day-to-day and the quality of life you lead.
Stress is a mental, emotional and/or physical response to stimulus that is not wanted. It can be situational (based on a scenario that maybe outside of our control) or behavioural (being in contact with someone who's behaviour we find offensive or fearful).
At it's most basic form, even if it sounds harsh, stress is simply us reacting to and not accepting things just the way they are. Often it is the resistance to 'what is' (or 'who is') that creates the stress. Rather than trusting in our capacity to manage things step-by-step, our resistance reaction often becomes more of an issue that the stressor itself!
Chronic stress, where the body goes into regular or constant states of 'fight or fright' (which is the body's automatic stress response) has a very taxing , and potentially deathly impact. Eventually, because they do not get adequate time to replenish when rested, chronic stress places all of our bodily systems including cardiovascular, respiratory, mental-emotional and digestive systems under unnecessary pressure. And if left unchecked, eventually we will burn out.
Heeding to our body and mind's signals that things are 'not quite right' is always the first step in effectively managing stress. But what it you are so out of touch that you miss this? Well, that's why yoga is so effective.
Firstly, yoga develops our overall self-awareness, we learn to hear the messages our body is needing to tell us. This places us is a good position to do something about it.
Secondly, yoga also helps us to more quickly recognise when we are 'resisting' something. We learn to feel the difference between resistance and freedom in the body/mind - and we become able to relax ourselves, and to positively influence our body's automatic stress response, at will.
And finally, yoga eases the actual physical, mental and emotional symptoms of stress. Put very briefly, yoga postures and movements release tension from tight muscles, breath techniques have a direct influence on emotional reactions and these techniques combined over time, enable the student to also see through mental chatter to a natural stillness and clarity.
Yoga has a three-pronged approach to stress by teaching us to identify stress quickly, to manage ourselves when under stress and to deal with the symptoms of stress. There's nothing else quite like it!
If you haven't experienced yoga before, we encourage you to try it for yourself and see. Our Beginners Yoga Courses are a safe and fun place to start.
Wishing you a stress-less journey.