How Yoga Trains Us to Deal with Stress

In her article, Kristin Diversi wrote: “When we think of yoga, we often think of a practice that is inherently relaxing: Lying on a mat and getting totally blissed out, feeling amazing from the first ‘Om’ to the final namaste.”

“By and large, that is a very incomplete picture.

The reason yoga works long-term is that the practice is designed to trigger our stress response. Think about it: what could be more stressful than holding a weird shape for an indeterminate amount of time, while your legs are burning and your arms feel like jelly? Even in restorative yoga you are being asked to hold a static shape—one that is probably not natural for your body—while you also release the thoughts you are holding.”

“Yoga works because in the midst of these stressful situations, something else is happening: We are actively working to train our minds and bodies to relax, despite the stressful situation. We are reorienting our stress response from the innate (fast, heavy breathing, panicked thoughts, and tense muscles) to the learned (slow, deliberate breathing, calm thoughts, and engaged but not clenched muscles). By training our mental reactions, we are also modulating our physical reactions. ” Moreover, Kristin made reference to another article, “Yoga for Anxiety and Depression” by adding, “We are lowering our heart rates, blood pressure, and easing our breathing. We are letting our heart rates, blood pressure, and easing our breathing. We are letting the body become a secondary concern, rather than the primary driving force of our practice.”

These articles gave me deep reflection on why I liked long distance running and why I had done it for so long even when it had brought me injuries from the repetitive movement. It’s because of the calm that it gave me. After realizing that yoga can give me the same result, I stopped running with gladness and not having to miss it because I found a substitute which give me the same calm if not more in yoga. Check out Cultural Society’s Health & Wellness courses and our Meditation courses to learn how to stay calm in the midst of life’s busyness.