The information explosion has provided us with unrivalled, almost unlimited, access to knowledge. Paradoxically, such scientific and technological advances have increased rather than reduced our stress levels.
Financial security, desire for worldly pleasures, appetite for success, keeping up with the Jones'...these pressures can push us into a spiral of anxiety and a feeling of always chasing our tail. We can lose sight of what is really important, unknowingly twisting the truth to suit personal goals. We can be blinkered to friendliness, warmth, honesty and compassion - instead perceiving deceit, dishonesty, greed and pride.
Egoism and pride cause an individual to lose contact with their emotional centre. The ancient teachings of yoga tell us that it is only when the heart and head are in harmony that peace of mind, stability and happiness can be found enabling you to cope with the stresses and strains that knock you off balance from time to time.
As long as the heart and head remain separate, stress will manifest itself physically and emotionally...anger, confusion, depression, contracted muscles, tense facial expressions and undesirable behavioural patterns are all common symptoms of stress.
Inevitably our health suffers. The science of psycho-neuro-immunology has established the connection between the body, mind and emotions (a connection the ancient yogis recognised a millennium ago!). Stress leads to disease, premature aging and in extreme cases, fatal illness.
Many people respond to stress by resorting to alcohol, comfort eating, nicotine, prescribed and non-prescribed drugs. These may bring temporary relief, but it is temporary and mostly counter-productive. They also have dangerous side-effects that actually increase stress levels!
The tension associated with stress is stored mainly in the muscles, diaphragm and the nervous system. If these areas are relaxed, stress is reduced. Yoga postures and breathing have a profound effect on the central nervous system, as well as the circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. Improved blood flow stabilises the heart rate and blood pressure, better breathing results in a higher intake of oxygen.
Regular yoga, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help you to internalise positive attitudes, which enable you to face stressful situations with calmness and stability. It helps to generate enormous amounts of energy in the body, stimulates the cells and relaxes tense muscles. With patience and dedication, you will discover a feeling of well-being during and after your practise. Your entire being becomes calm and steady.
In summary...YOGA ROCKS!!!
It makes you feel good, and does you good, inside and out.
(All my yoga ramblings are due to the grace, intellectualism, wisdom and kindness of all my yoga teachers over the last two decades, including of course, BKS Iyengar himself)