Yoga and Stress: How Can Yoga Help You Live A Stress-free Life?
when we are under pressure, tired, overworked, and generally trying to handle more than
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
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.
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.
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
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 are dealing with stress or anxiety would like to explore the way yoga and hypnotherapy work together to help you create a stress-free life, contact me for a free screening.
I can help determine if yoga, hypnosis 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 at 11:30 am.