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YOGA AND STRESS

Yoga is beneficial for times when we are stressed. The Daily Telegraph covered the issue in one of its Life Sections . But what is stress?

Stress can be defined as a reaction to a perceived threat , it is a physiological response to stimuli picked up by our nervous system which in turn will cause various chemicals (hormones) to be released by our endocrine system into the blood and these determine how our body reacts. The main hormone of stress, adrenaline , causes the fight or flight response; increasing heart rate, blood pressure, decreasing blood supply to the digestive system 'butterflies' and causing shallow breathing. A full summary of the effects of stress can be found in the work of, for example, Ranabir and Reetu

The autonomic nervous system, simple or more complex explanation, controls everything that happens here; two parts of this are the sympathetic (on switch) and the parasympathetic (off switch), the two parts of the circuit are connected to every organ in the body.

YOGA AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

The effective practice of yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system; this is the antidote to stress.

This system is connected through the body in a similar way to the sympathetic nervous system; it serves to decrease blood pressure, slow the heart rate, allow the digestive tract to work once more, deepen and slow the breath, it switches off the endocrine system that deliver chemicals into the blood to (e.g. adrenaline, cortisol) to start the fight/ flight response.

The directed practice of deep controlled breathing; focus and the teaching of the philosophy of yoga and of course the postures and how we approach them are all known to help counter stress and teach us to control it. There are a number of styles of yoga and there is always one suitable for your current situation, the stronger practices help to increase our energy, the gentler practices restore us from burn out or injury.

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