Yoga for Stress

Susanne Kaesbauer, PhD

 
 

Stress

Stress is a part of modern daily life and our body’s nervous system is well equiped for dealing with stress in the short-term. However, when stress lasts and the body doesn’t have a chance to recover fully between eposides of stress, we start to experience a host of negative consequences. These can include:

  • Feeling worried or anxious

  • Muscle tension, pains and aches

  • Feeling tired or worn

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Over or under-eating

  • Biting nails

  • Getting more colds or other illnesses

  • Burn out in the long term.


Managing and preventing stress

While stress cannot be avoided completely, we have some control over how we interpret stressful events and our responses to them. There are a variety of techniques and skills available to help manage the symptoms of stress and to protect ourselves against the effects of future stressful events. These include:

  • Mental training, such as mental imagery.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy.

  • Exercise and mindfulness.

Yoga for stress draws on these techniques to help change the way we interpret and respond to stressful events. I’ll teach you the yoga postures, safe alignment and how to notice and respond cues from your body. You will do the work and over time observe how the work you do on the yoga mat translates to daily activities.


YoGA

Yoga is a powerful and effective tool to address stress symptoms immediately. Here is how it works.

  • The postures are initially uncomfortable and the body develops a small stress response. Staying in a challenging place, you notice and change how the mind responds.

  • Slow steady breathing in the postures stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down after the scortisol and adrenaline producing stress (fight or flight) response sets in.

  • The continuous 60+ minute long practice requires you to check in often and notice when unhelpful muscular tension develops. You learn how to release any unneccessary effort. This can also be applied during the day to literally make challenging events easier for your body.

  • Postures stretch tight muscles (think shoulders and neck) and strenthen surrounding muscles. This means, over time, your shoulders and neck don’t need to work so hard and don’t get tired as fast.