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Stress and Yoga

YOGA & STRESSBy: Leticia Mancera

¿How did this word come to be part of our daily vocabulary?  The term originally applied only in Physics and Architecture referring to the strength or tension applied to an object to deform it, reaching its limit of elasticity before breaking.  DRAMATIC DEFINITION!

Hans B. Selye (1907-1982), an Austrian-Canadian used the term in Psychology and Biology referring to it as pressure that provokes and demands a response of an organism for its survival.

Other definitions:

  • “ a response of a human being to confront the demands of its environment.”
  • “ physical or psychological alteration of an individual by demanding performance above its normal  ”
  • “ the incapacity of the human being to meet the demands of its environment.” This definition I like best.

We have the ability of adapting or adjusting, we need to develop or practice the capacity to achieve it, modifying our behavior and environment.    We are capable of adjusting to adverse situations just as plants do.  The plant survives in the desert high temperatures, cold winter and winds.  It adapts to its natural habitat.  Humans have a brain, a mind and spirit to reach it. Yoga unites these three levels of existence.

The first phase of stress is “fight or flight”.  The body adapts to a situation that it confronts by liberating adrenaline and cortisol hormones, helping us stabilize during the situation and later return to equilibrium.  GOOD STRESS!

Second phase of stress is when we maintain a situation and resist.  We keep on fighting.  The chemical-hormonal substances are accumulated to keep on guard – without rest, no slack, with a deficient and interrupted breathing.  As a consequence muscular and mental tension increase in internal en peripheral organs as well.  From the shoulder muscles all the way to the heart muscle. The third phase is final blow – coup de grace, it is known as exhaustion.  It´s when stress becomes chronic and is maintained for a long period of time causing poisoning.

“ When we reach the limit – chronic stress, our emotional – spiritual state is affected.”

Psych. Fernando Esteve Griego – Swami Maitreyananda

Yoga practice acts upon our physical and emotional body.  The muscle is the physical part of an emotion. An emotion is instantaneous, the feeling is what´s kept.  The energy that a muscle treasures is spiritual. Defining spirit as the mood of a person. Our feelings are affected by our emotions.  After a quarrel it´s common to say , “ he blew my top”; before sorrow situation we say “ I  got a lump  in my throat” or “ my heart  shrunk” .  These emotions define the mood of a person´s spiritual state.

The tension-relaxation experimented  practicing Yoga – Yogatherapy,   together with the concentration and adequate breathing brings us back to equilibrium.  During a yoga session the practitioner holds his concentration to a point that he follows the teacher´s indication without questioning, leaving his brain aside (no reasoning).  He only follows instruction (flows) without judging the perfection of his practice.  Holding a posture over a period of time with an adequate breathing pace helps overcome stress and restore body´s balance, giving oxygen and hyperventilating the body´s system. 

There are different styles of yoga for different goals. Be informed about the different methods and styles of yoga. Choose the one that´s best for you so you can practice it to reach relaxation and internal peace.


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