Negotiating the morning commute might not seem to have anything in common with being chased by a lion, but it has the same effect on your body – the stress response. Stress in modern life has been so well researched that we know beyond doubt the impact it has on our cells, nervous system and ultimately, physical and mental health. Stress increases inflammation in the body and brain, which is connected to a raft of modern diseases.* It’s a common problem and one we all share.
Can yoga help ?
Those clever yogis in ancient times (and their Buddhist cousins) considered the nature of life and suffering or ‘Dukkha’ in Sanskrit or Tibetan. In those days it wasn’t FB or teenagers causing stress, but hardship, famine and disease. The practices of Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism were designed to help ease this pain – knowing that there was a more ease-ful existence to be discovered in our own lifetimes – if only we could dedicate a little time to practice. This isn’t just hippy, esoteric claptrap – it applies even to our modern hectic lifestyles.
Yoga and Science = Stress Busted !
Science and Yoga have caught up with each other and the practices of yoga have been researched in depth, in neuroscience labs, cardiac units and hospitals the world over. Studies have looked at specific practices and the mechanisms of how yoga changes the body and mind. We know that yoga helps: how we deal with stressful situations; to lower the stress response in the cells; to lower heart rates; to improve anxiety and depression and to reduce inflammatory compounds.** See below for some links to the ‘science’ but take my word for it, the evidence is clear.
The answer is easy: Simple techniques – Yoga for Stress
Thankfully, we don’t need to meditate for hours, live up a mountain, or learn how to wrap our knees round our necks. Simple breathing techniques and building awareness of the body and mind can be enough. But we need to learn and practice these techniques, so they are in our stress-dismantling tool box when we need them. We should be learning them as children and using them to help us navigate the Dukkha of modern existence ! There is a more ease-ful way for us all.
Anji is an Osteopath and Yoga Teacher working in London in the NHS and in private practice. Get in touch here Contact Anji Her next workshop is “Stress Less through Yoga” and is open to all, including beginners. Facebook Events April 21st at Triyoga Ealing (www.Triyoga.co.uk)
*If you are interested in reading more about this, check out the very readable ‘Why Zebras don’t get ulcers’ by the neurobiologist Robert Zapolsky https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Zebras-Dont-Ulcers-Revised/dp/0805073698
**A flavour of research into yoga breathing. There are a myriad of studies out there, contact me if you would like to investigate a specific area of health.
- Yoga changes the chemistry of the brain (a very simplified explanation!) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00315/full
- Alternate Nostril Breathing reduce anxiety: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5660749/
- Alternate Nostril Breathing and Heart Rate Variability and Blood Pressure www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755948/
- Coherent Breathing in Depression Patients www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359682/