Does stress excite you or exhaust you?
Your mobile phone is ringing, your most important client wants to talk to you and your partner wants to know what’s for dinner. Stress and anxiety are everywhere. How do you manage stress?
When something stressful happens, do you feel energised?
Your heart races, senses heighten—and maybe you even feels as though your thoughts speed up. If so you may prides yourself on your ability to face problems head-on, but don’t you also find it difficult to turn this intensity off.
Do you ever feel more on edge than at the top of your game. Do you ever suffer from headaches or insomnia, maybe both. Have you ever considered if they are related to stress? Do you worry about making changes so you can feel better, because you can’t imagine yourself changing your full-throttle approach to life. Without stress, how would you ever get anything done?
Or for you do you feel exhausted by stress?
You feel depleted by stress and would like to reduce the things that generate the most stress, that hectic schedule at home and your challenging job. If conflict arises do you always try to walk away? And are you sometimes able to “just let things go”?
But even though you’ve simplified your life, do you sometimes feel down or depressed. Do you ever have a nagging feeling that your attempts to be stress free are getting in the way of fully living your life?
There is another way…
These are just two ways you can responses to stress—one or both of these may seem familiar to you. Stress is inescapable, but it is also paradoxical: While excess stress can take a toll on you, the very things that cause it are often the same things that make life rewarding and full. Take a moment to think about the pressures in your life and how you are reacting to them. If they’re getting the best of you, you might want to hit the mat and give yoga a try.
Manage stress and find serenity
Is yoga right for you? It is if you want to manage stress, get fit and stay healthy.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation.
Mind-body means it works with both aspects of you, help to bring them both back into alignment and balance. It can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve heart function. And almost anyone can do it.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that brings together physical and mental disciplines, the aim is to achieve a peaceful body and mind, helping you relax, manage stress and anxiety, and improve overall health.
For the most part, when you hear people talk about yoga, they’re generally referring to Hatha yoga—the combination of asanas (positions) and pranayama (breath control) most commonly taught in yoga studios and classes in the UK. But yoga is actually part of a much broader system, of which Hatha is only a part. There are four distinct yoga systems, each one offers something different to the practitioner.
Hatha yoga is a prepartion for the more advanced meditative yoga practices of Raja yoga (raja means king). The purpose of all the stretching and bending is to enable you to sit comfortably for a long time in meditation without the body causing distractions, like pain, pins & needles or numbness.
It’s purpose is not to put your legs around your neck but it is to bringing balance to the body and the mind, and with it you can achieve greater health and self-discipline. Then you can move to Raja yoga, which focuses on mastering the mind through meditation.
The four Yoga systems are,
Jnana Yoga: the path of philosophical research & wisdom.
Bhakti Yoga: the path of devotional service.
Karma Yoga: the path of selfless action.
Raja Yoga: The path of Transcending the mind.
All of the varieties of Yoga are generally forms of Hatha Yoga; Iyengar, Astanga, Kriya, Kundallini, Hot, Vini, Yin… The list is long.
The core components of hatha yoga and most general yoga classes are:
- Postures. Yoga poses, traditionally called Asana, are a series of static postures and movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. Poses range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to difficult postures that may have you stretching and expanding your physical limits.
- Breathing. Pranayama, breathing exercises are an important part of yoga because breath signifies your vital energy. Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind.
The health benefits of yoga:
- Stress reduction. A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
- Improved fitness. Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.
- Management of chronic conditions. Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
Yoga is generally considered safe for most people when practiced under the guidance of a trained teacher. It is also possible to find trained Yoga Therapist if you have any concerns about your own health, (we have two yoga therapists at Corporate Yoga London). You must always inform your teacher before you begin yoga if you have any of the following conditions or situations:
- A herniated disk/slipped disc
- A risk of thrombosis
- Eye conditions, including glaucoma
- Severe balance problems
- Severe osteoporosis
- Uncontrolled blood pressure
You are still able to practice yoga in these situations and a yoga therapist will be able to devise the best practice for you.
Although you can learn yoga from books and videos, beginners usually find it much more beneficial to learn with a teacher. Classes also offer camaraderie and friendship, which are also important to overall well-being.
When you find a class that sounds interesting, talk with the teacher so that you know what to expect. Questions to ask include:
- What are their qualifications? Where did they train and how long has they been teaching?
- Do they have experience working with students with your needs or health concerns? If you have a sore knee or an aching shoulder, can the instructor help you find poses that won’t aggravate your condition and will help to improve it?
- Is the class demanding? Is it suitable for beginners? Will it be easy enough to follow along if it’s your first time?
- What can you expect from the class? Is it aimed at your needs, such as stress management or relaxation?
Achieving the right balance
Everyone’s body is different, and yoga postures should be modified based on your individual abilities. So finding the right teacher who is experienced and attentive to your needs is an important first step to a safe and effective yoga practice.
Regardless of which type of yoga you practice, you don’t have to do every pose. If a pose is uncomfortable check with the teacher that you’re doing it correctly, if you don’t like it don’t do it. Yoga is NOT competitive, it is for you to explore your body and find acceptance of where you are now. Pushing your self or over stretching can cause injury and reduce flexibility. A good teacher will understand and encourage you to explore — but not exceed — your personal limits.