The Stress Reduction Benefits
In our Yoga sessions we learn how to regulate the Nervous System by activating the Relaxation Response (Parasympathetic Branch of the Nervous System = Rest & Digest) and calming the Stress Response (Sympathetic Branch = Flight Fight Freeze) . There are various techniques that we use to lower the heart rate, release muscular tension and calm the mind. The practice opens with awareness of where we might be experiencing stress and tension and then the movement into the relaxation response through grounding and breath awareness where we aim to stay throughout. The practice ends with a deepening of this level of relaxation where we enter a state of bliss. This can have a profound effect on us, especially if we have been under long term tension. In this state the body-mind has an opportunity to restore balance, energy and repair. The immune system can function optimally. This conscious form of deep rest is a tonic that is unique to Yoga. The levels that this can go to can work on a subconscious level and ultimately transform our lives.
Stress is one of the main causes of post-modern disease. We are said to be stressed when our sympathetic nervous system is active, and producing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Some stress is normal and necessary but many of us live with a chronic low level of stress. Often we are not aware of how stressed we are because it has become normal. Stress creates a vicious cycle in the way that we deal with stress. We may try to alleviate the stress by drinking, eating, smoking or taking other substances that temporarily make us feel better. Often we need to increase these substances to get the same effect. But the cause of the stress has not gone away. The fight or flight response plays havoc with your immune system when on overdrive. The continuous boost of adrenaline and cortisol fatigues the adrenal glands and ends up causing exhaustion that is difficult to alleviate. Chronic stress has been linked to a plethora of conditions & diseases, the main one being
- HEART DISEASE. Others include:
- KIDNEY DISEASE
- AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
- JOINT PAIN
- SUSCEPTIBILITY TO INFECTIONS
- GUM DISEASE
- IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
- PEPTIC ULCERS
- SLEEP DISTURBANCES
- SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION
- MEMORY LOSS
- SKIN DISORDERS
- HAIR LOSS
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Stress is a severe problem
For so many people the stresses of busy lives can build and accumulate and the essential balance between stress and relaxation can be disrupted. Emotionally we can become tense, irritable, anxious, exhausted or depressed. This impacts on our relationships, work and general ability to enjoy life. Learn to regulate your Nervous System.
We are living longer. Ageing is a natural process. An extended lifespan does not mean a healthy life. Many people over the age of 50 are living with one or more chronic conditions. Longevity is based on 2 major factors, Genetics and Life-style. You have no control over your genetic inheritance and you can’t change your actual age. But Genetics accounts for only ¼ of age-related illness. This is empowering because healthy life-style choices like attending this Yoga class will have a significant impact on your life expectancy.
Yoga can give us many physical and practical ways of remaining robust and healthy as our lifespan increases. Many of us attend Yoga classes to improve and maintain physical fitness. You will find in these sessions that you will increase in upper body strength. Loss of upper body strength and flexibility tends to happen as we age and if we don’t actively maintain this strength, eventually we are unable to push up from a chair and open a heavy door and this leads to a loss of independence in later life. By strengthening the upper body with weight bearing exercises we are also increasing bone density. This will help to delay, prevent or improve osteoporosis. Increasing flexibility, looking after your joints will enable you to live independently for longer. We work by taking the joints through their full, natural, pain-free, end-range of movement. This is called kinesiology and I use terms that scientifically describe these movements. You will learn about your personal limits, what stops you? Where is your personal end-range in each joint and how to strengthen, stretch and tone the muscles around the joints to keep them working at their best for as long as possible. The body changes over time but we can influence the rebuilding of the body’s structure if we care to. Realigning posture is about influencing this structure. If you have lower-crossed syndrome, or upper-crossed syndrome or both, you can do something about correcting your posture which will also increase your longevity. You will learn if you are hyper-mobile and which muscles you need to strengthen to support your joints. Gravity does alter our stance over time but we understand how we can work with gravity to maintain good alignment through all our muscles and joints into the golden years. You will improve your balance. This is also something that may decrease as we age but it doesn’t have to. As your balance improves so does your healthy life-span.
Our Mentality is based on a combination of emotions, thoughts, memories, imagination and psychology. Emotions happen very quickly in subjective response to our inner and outer experience. Thoughts happen less quickly. They can be based on the past and when we are ruminating or repeating the same thoughts this can lead to depression. Our energy is low, we feel sluggish. When thoughts are based in the future they can be rapidly changing and cause feelings of anxiety. We might be wired and restless. When we are in a ‘balanced’ state of mind we tend to be present and the body is alert but relaxed. Much of the time we are not paying attention to the thoughts and feelings that flow through us. Much like the many autonomic functions of the body.
When we learn to observe the mind-body with detachment through meditation, we learn so much about ourselves and can elevate our emotional intelligence. That may include changing the negative way that we reproach ourselves and tell ourselves that we are not good enough. When we are aware of our thoughts and emotions we can replace the negativity with more useful feelings of Compassion, Acceptance, Love, Forgiveness, Appreciation. These feelings will help us gain confidence and self esteem and improve our relationship with others and how we relate to the World around us. Meditation can transform our relationship to substances and chase away fear.
Benefits of Deep Breathing
Every session will include deep breathing and the breath is central to our practice. Since the efficiency of the respiratory system may decline with age, the risk of respiratory tract diseases increases. It is important to encourage yourself to strengthen the respiratory muscles by deep breathing and regular exercise. Keep the rib cage flexible especially around the sternum and top ribs as these become calcified as we age. Avoid hyperventilation and don’t strain when you first start a deep breathing practice. Learning to breathe deeply detoxifies the cells. Calms the nervous system. Slows the heart rate. Energises the muscles. As we progress into Pranayama techniques we find the mind becomes clear. The world around us sparkles as we take in fully the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel all of that which surrounds us. It connects us with all life. Prana. We can not be aware of the breath in the past or in the future. When we anchor ourselves to the breath we are present. The ancient Yogic Gurus believed that each of us is given a certain number of breaths when we are born. The quality of the breath becomes so important and precious. Use these breaths with wisdom and awareness. Lengthen these breaths to increase your longevity = Pranayama.