Yoga and Stress: How Can Yoga Help You Live A Stress-free Life?

ahhhStress is a familiar part of life for many of us. It is our body’s way of letting us know

when we are under pressure, tired, overworked, and generally trying to handle more than

we should.

 

Stress begins as a distress signal in the brain. When the body perceives any kind of

danger, the amygdala—the part of the brain that processes emotions—sends a signal to

the hypothalamus—the part of the brain that communicates with the body through the

nervous system.

 

The hypothalamus then sets off all kinds of physical reactions, including sending

adrenaline into the bloodstream. This adrenaline heightens the body’s ability to respond

to danger and is credited with the fight-or-flight response. The heart beat accelerates,

more oxygen is sent to the brain, and all the senses become sharper as a result. If the

stressful situation continues, the hypothalamus calls in the HPA axis, which releases

cortisol into the bloodstream so that the body can continue to respond to danger with

heightened sensitivity. Stress’s effect on the body is quite an ordeal!

 

A body exposed to stress repeatedly over long periods of time will begin to suffer natural

wear and tear. It will become more susceptible to disease, weight gain, high blood

pressure, and, in more serious cases, impaired cognition and cardiovascular disease.

Life renders stress unavoidable. There is no way we can completely avoid stressful

situations; we can, however, learn how to manage our stress and give our bodies the

space to repair themselves. One of the ways to do this in addition to hypnotherapy is with

a consistent yoga practice. There are several ways in which yoga can help manage stress.

 

Breathing

Pranayamas are exercises in yoga that promote deep, mindful breathing. This kind

of breathing activates the body’s parasympathetic system. The opposite of

the stress response, the parasympathetic system slows the heart rate and relaxes

muscles. These deep breathing techniques are very useful when you find yourself

in a stressful situation. They allow you to ease the fight-or-flight response and

approach your stress with a clear head.

 

Reducing Cortisol Levels

Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can cause depression, high blood

pressure, abdominal weight gain, and other health problems. Sounds terrible,

right? There is good news: Yoga has been found to reduce cortisol levels! Thomas

Jefferson Medical College in Philidelphia and the Yoga Research Society

did a study in which they measured the cortisol levels of people before and after

yoga classes. Not only was there a significant decrease in cortisol levels after the

yoga class, it was 99.9% consistent. Meaning, 99.9 times out of 100, yoga will

reduce stress hormones in your body. Over time, this can have a profound impact

on your overall stress levels. Imagine how much that could improve your life.

 

Being Present

Yoga places great emphasis on being present in the moment. This mindfulness

does not allow for dwelling on the past or obsessing over the future. It requires

that we be fully focused on each moment as it arrives. When applied to the rest of

life, yogic mindfulness keeps us rooted in the moment. It gives us the tools to

slow down the mental and emotional noise and focus only on the moment at hand.

Being present and living life moment to moment is a very effective way to reduce

stress.

 

There are many ways in which yoga has been proven to reduce stress, and its effects vary

with each individual. You may discover that it helps you in ways you never knew it could.

 

If you would like to explore the way yoga and hypnotherapy work together to reduce stress,

Mark your calendar for where you will experience profound relaxation with restorative yoga and hypnosis mediation

for stress relief. Join me November 14th, 2015 at Yoga Blend in Burbank. Register here!

 

If you’re not sure where to begin in your journey toward a stress-free life, contact me for a free screening. I can

determine if private yoga, hypnotherapy or both is the best course of action for you. You can also join me weekly for

gentle yoga at Yoga Blend every Tuesday and Thursday.

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