Stress and Yoga
Origins of the Stress
Through advances in science and technology modern civilization has been able to conquer ignorance in many fields, but its pride in technological achievement is excessive and misplaced. It has triggered widespread feelings of competitiveness and envy. Financial tensions, emotional upheavals, environment pollution and, above all, a sense of being overtaken by the speed of events, have all increased the stress of daily life.
All these factors strain the body, causing nervous tension, and adversely affecting the mind. This is when feelings of isolation and loneliness take over.
To deal with this, people turn to artificial solutions to cope with the pressure of daily life. Substance abuse, eating disorders, and destructive relationships are some of the substitutes people grasp at in their desperate search for consolation. But while these measures may provide temporary distraction or oblivion, the root cause of unhappiness-stress-remains unresolved.
Yoga is not a miracle cure that can free a person from all stress, but it can help to minimize it. The worries of modern life deplete our reserves of bio-energy, because we draw on our vital energy from the storehouse – the nerve cells. This can, ultimately, exhaust our energy reserves and lead to the collapse of mental and physical equilibrium. Yogic science believes that the nerves control the unconscious mind, and that when the nervous system is strong, a person faces stressful situations more positively. Yoga improves blood flow to all the cells of the body, revitalizing the nerve cells. This flow strengthens the nervous system and its capacity for enduring stress.
The diaphragm, according to Yogic science, is the seat of the intelligence of the heart and window to the soul. During stressful situations, however, when you inhale and exhale, the diaphragm becomes too taut altering its shape. Yogic exercises address this problem by developing elasticity in the diaphragm, so that, when stretched, it can handle any amount of stress, whether intellectual, emotional, or physical.
The practice of Yoga and Pranayama helps to integrate the body, breath, mind and intellect. Slow, effortless exhalation during practice of a Yoga posture brings serenity to the body cells, relaxes the facial muscles, and releases all tension from the organs of perception: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.
When this happens, the brain, which is in constant communication with the organs of action, becomes Shunya or void, and all thoughts are stilled. Then, invading fears and anxieties cannot penetrate to the brain. When we develop this ability, we perform our daily activities with efficiency and economy. We don’t dissipate our valuable bio-energy. We enter the state of true clarity of intellect. Our mind is free of stress and is filled with calmness and tranquility.