Fitness Magazine

Yoga: A Stress Buster for 2021

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Ram 

Yoga: A Stress Buster for 2021

Calm and Free by Rockwell Kent

A single strand of ribonucleic acid virus (Covid-19) literally changed the landscape of the world, leaving people grappling with the numerous changes and shifting priorities. The plummeting economy, closure of businesses, health concerns, and changes in our routines have created all kinds of stresses, including physical, mental, and emotional. Who has not experienced stress? And these days we are all are surrounded by stressful situations that arise from a multitude of reasons, including finances, workplace tensions, a demanding boss, relationship problems, domestic issues, and, of course, health reasons stemming from the virus infection.
Short-term or acute stress is beneficial as it triggers the fight-or-flight response and a surge of energy that allows the individual to react to any adverse situation, at the same time offering protective health benefits, such as enhanced immunity. However, if the stress is long term or if the acute stress goes haywire, it results in chronic stress that wreaks havoc on the individual. Chronic stress has a severe negative impact on health, relationships, and work productivity. If we compare the statistics of chronic stress and its adverse effects world wide, the numbers are nearly similar. Chronic stress triggers two abnormal physiological events that impacts overall health:
  1. Overproduction of stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline.
  2. Unregulated inflammatory response.
Compounding these abnormal physiological changes with unhealthy lifestyle and food choices, irregular meal timings, poor sleep routines, prolonged sitting, smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking recreational drugs results in disruption of the body's homeostatic response (aka internal stability), putting the individual at increased risk of numerous health problems. Some of these health problems include: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, insomnia, metabolic disorders, and memory issues.
So virus or no virus, we all need to cultivate good stress management techniques, including good eating practices, a daily dose of physical and mental exercise, selfless service, overcoming negative emotions and bringing in positivity. The American Heart Association lists several tips to deal with stress, including maintaining a positive lifestyle and positive communication, participating in those activities or simple things that provide pleasure, and daily relaxation (see 3 Tips to Manage Stress). The Mayo Clinic also has detailed information on how to identify and deal with stressful situations (see Stress Relief). In addition, literature searches on stress management describe the positive impact of yoga, meditation, and pranayama in alleviating stress. Even a short session of yoga, pranayama, or meditation balances the mind and body and alleviates the stress response. At the cellular level, yoga, meditation, and breath practices de-stress the mind and body by:
  1. Releasing brain chemicals that contribute to a feel-good response and ward off anxiety and mental stress.
  2. Normalizing blood pressure and stabilizing the heartbeats.
  3. Reducing anxiety and depression.
  4. Improving the ability to sleep by de-activating the HPA axis (see About Stress: Acute Versus Chronic).
Anyone can resort to short sessions of yoga and relaxation as a quick practice, especially to deal with acute stress. There are several articles on this blog that have advocated the need to incorporate short sessions of yoga, meditation, and breath practices to deal with acute and /or chronic stress at home or office, including Stress, Your Health, and Yoga and Featured Sequence: Mini Office Yoga Practice.One may question the benefits, if any, from a short session of yoga. But scientific studies have shown the numerous benefits including the rejuvenation of the body and mind, even from a short session of yoga and stillness. In addition to improvement in the physical parameters, short sessions clear any mental fog and improve cognition. Making the commitment to take care of yourself through a regular asana, meditation, and relaxation techniques may seem to be a huge undertaking, but remember, not only does it empower you—it keeps you free from the mercy of stressful forces. So with 2020 coming to an end and the vaccine for Covid on the horizon, let us usher in the new year with less associated stress. Please remember, along with of yoga, meditation, and pranayama, it is still important to eat mindfully, engage in a selfless act, and nurture positive emotions to see true and long-lasting benefits. For more information see Ram's book Good Living Practices which is available as a paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Copperfield’s Books, Target, and other online bookstores.Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook ° To order Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to Amazon, Shambhala, Indie Bound or your local bookstore.

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