Stress is now recognised as the one common factor behind a multitude of diseases.
Yoga offers 2 distinct pathways to stress management:
1) The most specific practice to help relieve stress-related imbalances in both body and mind is Restorative Yoga. In this quiet gentle practice you will spend lots of time in comfortably supported poses simply breathing and stretching effortlessly until your body is completely relaxed. The deep relaxation of the body leads to a quietening of the mind and opens the opportunity for your body’s own healing mechanism to begin dealing with whatever problems exist. (For more see the Restorative page under Class Descriptions).
This state of deep relaxation is also found (hopefully) at the end of every regular yoga class as we finish off each class with Savasana (Corpse Pose).
2) The less obvious pathway to stress management that we learn at yoga is a skill called svadhyaya – a Sanskrit word meaning self-study. Learning to observe the mind objectively is fundamental to treating anxiety.This art of self-study can allow you to observe physical, mental or emotional states in a neutral way. Svadhyaya can teach you how to observe an emotional state without being swept away by it.
How? By watching for any stress in a particular pose you learn to note it, then pause before reacting. Watch where the stress goes in your body – the jaw? the neck?, the tummy? …. you learn to put yourself in an objective space in relationship to the thing that is making you anxious, and then choose how to respond.
As you continue to practice, you begin to retrain your body and mind to create new responses to situations that would normally create anxiety. Instead of automatically stressing when a situation doesn’t go according to plan your reactions will become more conscious and more fluid. Less stress, less tension.