Stress is attributed to most GP visits and can be associated with the biggest health problems we face these days. Starting with cardiac diseases but also mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
How do we get stressed?
In his book Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers Robert M. Sapolsky explains why we get frazzled by small things and animals seem to be able to brush off the anxieties of being hunted all day every day. Of course, zebras can get stressed, they are a prime target of crocodiles, hyenas, and leopards after all. Animals react with the fight, flight or freeze response when stressed and when the incident is over they move on and forget about it.
However, as humans, we can keep a stressful experience alive purely as a function of our minds. Our bodies can’t determine whether a threat is real or whether we are creating an incident in our minds. By repeating worrying stories to ourselves we can create a panic response, which creates a downward spiral and we can end up for instance with digestive issues, sleep problems, or depression.
How can you tackle stress?
Mindfulness and yoga can help with reducing stress and associated problems. For instance, slow and deep breathing tells your body that the stressful situation has passed and that it’s time to relax. How often do you actually relax during the day? There is usually something going on. Our work is stressful, family life can be frantic, and usually, we fill every minute of our days with something to do, like our phones or television. By merely being still and breathing deeply and slowly five times, we can change your bodies perception of your environment and calm you down.
I find breathing techniques one of the most important tools in yoga. In my classes, I teach the three-part yogic breath which takes advantage of the full capacity of the lungs. This involves breathing into your belly, chest, and ribs. Filling all parts of your lungs with air and breathing out from your ribs, chest, and belly. Doing this regularly can make breathing fully a habit.
I am starting a new 4-week course on Wednesday 21st November 2018 called Gentle Yoga for Stressful Lifes where we will learn how to breathe fully and gently release tension.