Yoga in Stressful Times | iHanuman


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Yoga in Stressful Times

We are in challenging times with the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, 2 wars, international terrorism, and global climate change. People are worried about their finances, keeping their jobs and homes, and the bleaker future that may face their children and grandchildren. Research has shown that stress is a major risk factor in just about every disease and physical condition. One of the most intelligent choices you can make in these stressful times is to invest in your most precious resource: your health and well-being. Making that investment through yoga benefits all aspects of your being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
A research survey of over 3000 people practicing yoga reported that over 90% reported improvements in their symptoms of back pain, arthritis, anxiety, and ulcers; and over 80% reported an improvement in symptoms of menopause problems, asthma, migraines, insomnia, and even diabetes. All these improvements they attributed to yoga.
The various practices of yoga, including the postures, relaxation training, breathing practices, and meditation, have a lot to offer. These practices renew you from the inside out. As you know, in a great yoga class you stretch out tight muscles and release the tension that has built up in your body. You create strength and tone in your muscles, which leads to a feeling of empowerment and resiliency. Regular practice of complete relaxation and/or meditation increases the tone of your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that promotes a feeling of peace and well-being. In addition yoga gets you out of your head (where the worry takes place!) and into your body. Just that break from your habitual mental stream of consciousness is beneficial. As you may know, science has shown that negative thinking is more toxic to the body than smoking cigarettes!
Another significant benefit of yoga class is your connection to others ... when we realize that we are not alone and that we have friends to lean on and share with, we immediately feel better. Research has also shown that having a strong support group enhances the functioning of the immune system, and decreases disease, even in stressful times.
As you do the yoga practices and change physically, it gives you access to a different perspective and you may find that during the rest of your day you become more conscious of where you allow your mind to roam, and you choose more uplifting thoughts to focus on. This awareness is huge in reducing your perception of stress! It goes to the core of what stress is about ... which is one's interpretation of life events as stressful. If we can change our perspective and re-frame it to acknowledge that even though these are challenging times, we will make it thorough. We can come up with solutions to our problems. Every economic downturn in history has been temporary and the economy has eventually improved. We can change our habits and create lower carbon emissions to decrease the probability of significant global climate change.
Even though it would be tempting to pull back from your yoga practice in these stressful times, this is when it's important to hold firm in your commitment to yourself. For maximum effectiveness, do yoga at least one more day a week than you don't do it. If you take class one day a week, then practice at home a minimum of 3 additional days so you are doing yoga more days than not. If you take class two days a week, practice a minimum of 2 additional times each week. When you do yoga more days per week that you don't, soon you will see a shift as the magic of yoga takes hold.
Nurture yourself during these turbulent times. Consider getting a practice tape for home; talk with your friends to set up a group practice in someone's living room; cherish and build your social network. Most of all, focus on what is positive, what is uplifting. Ask yourself many times everyday, "What is the most uplifting thought I can focus on now?" "What is the most life-affirming thing I can do now/today?" And notice as you do this that you immediately feel better. You are doing positive things for your body and mind from the inside out!


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