“It can be argued that stress is the number one killer in the Western world today.”
~ Dr. Timothy McCall
Although a certain amount of stress is unavoidable in today’s world of go, go, go, the amount of stress we as a society experience is now becoming one of the leading causes for diseases. When we experience too much stress in our lives and not enough rest, problems arise.
Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, our flight or flight response. This is a healthy and normal reaction to situations in life. The stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system causes blood to divert from the digestive organs to our muscles to prepare to run for our lives. Our blood also thickens to help us clot if we get cut in our flight, which makes it harder for our heart to pump the blood throughout our bodies. Our bodies don’t differentiate the difference between running from a hungry lion, or losing our cell phones. All stress is the same stress to our body.
Our opposing nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, is our rest and digest response. It is the “all is good, ” state of being. This nervous system helps our heart rate to slow and blood pressure to drop. Blood is now moving to the digestive organs so our bodies work in harmony.
So how does yoga work to stimulate our feel good response? Even if we are working hard in our practice, we are still in our rest and digest nervous system. The key lies in the breath used in our practice. The Ujayii breath, or the Ocean breath creates a relaxed nervous system response, which stimulates feel good chemicals to release. By practicing our breath work with our asana practice, we join our mind and body together.
Well-know yoga teacher, TKS Desikachar recommends our attention be first focused on the exhalation. Practice watching your out-breath until you know everything about it. Only then, allow your awareness to encompass the inhalations.
Use this practice with awareness in your next yoga class and throughout your practices. See if you can notice a change in your stress levels. If you are struggling to understand this subtle practice, see one of our teachers, who are happy to help you.
Here’s to a less-stressed life!
Tristen & Bindu Yoga Studio