The stress response has always been with us, as our prime instinct, when our ancestors had to flee from the dangerous animals or fight for food. The adrenaline rush, as we sometimes call it, in small amounts is very healthy and motivating. Even getting up from bed needs an adrenaline rush and higher blood pressure, which wouldn’t happen without our “built in stress response system”.
What is stress?
Stress occurs when our brain perceiving the threat – it could be anything from an unwanted bill to a confrontation with an angry motorist (which would be external stressor). Part of the brain called hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system: releasing hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, blood pressure goes up, the heart beats faster, white blood cells stick to the walls of the veins in case of any wounds to activate the healing processes, the body retains water to preserve body fluid in case of severe bleeding, it also gets a dose of sugar and fats to give us fuel to react to defend ourselves or escape depending on situation, big amounts of glucose and oxygen are being delivered to brain, skeletal muscles and heart. Our body is prepared to escape the danger. It’s called “fight or flight response” and as was said before in small amounts has got positive effect on the body. The only problem starts when the body is effected with stress for a long time.
There is no proven link between stress and disease, but because stress impacts on our immune system, few books mention a few stress related disorders like:
- Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
And that’s where Yoga can be used as a technique, tool to improve stress related symptoms.
The idea of the “relaxation response” was introduced by Dr Herbert Benson. Dr Benson has done a lot of research on fight or flight response and in result he came up with theory that to fight stress we need to either use up the energy which our body produced during the fight or flight response, and in our daily modern lives that doesn’t happen very often, or we need to fight the stressor with different relaxation techniques.
Now let’s have a look at different relaxation technique offered by Yoga and their benefits on stress levels.
Yoga postures have impact on our internal organs, hormone and immune system. They have been designed to keep our body, muscles and joints in a good shape. Linking Asana with breathing we create meditation practice for our body and mind.
Breath is the basis of everything, breath is our beginning and our end; we start and end human life with it. Breath is linked to all processes in our body, every single cell and most important is its impact on our brain. We can easily see how breathing impacts everything else including the nervous system, the digestive system, the immune system, the urinary and reproductive systems. Because breathing happens automatically we don’t think about it a lot unless we experience breathing difficulties. Most people’s breathing is shallow and they don’t use full lung capacity, which can cause problems in the body.
As we discussed earlier, stress can an have impact on our breath and breath is one of the techniques yoga uses to cope with stress, yoga allows you to deepen and slow down the breath and relax the nervous system and release the tension in your body sometimes within minute.
No matter what we do in life we build up tension in our body and modern life does not give us a ready recipe of how to cope with it. If the tension is in the body or mind it creates a vicious circle in our body because all the organs are connected, that can have an impact on not only on our health but also life and relationships. Through relaxation we can release tensions:
- Muscular tension – that includes tension in the nervous system and hormones.
- Emotional tension – even repressed emotions can be released through relaxation.
- Mental tension – we can access the subconscious mind and release tension.
There are different techniques of relaxation like visualisation, yoga nidra, progressive relaxation and many more. All of them are about releasing tension in the body and mind to create calmer and peaceful life.
It has been proven scientifically that there are different stages of brain activity and by meditating (and in deep relaxation) we can influence our state of mind in a controlled, awake way and move it to a theta wave state which is possible during sleep. It has been proven to be a more efficient way of energising the body than sleep
In the 21st century, era of MRI scans, advanced technology and advanced medicine, our life is still full of daily stress. Yoga starts to be recognised by medical research as one of the remedies for stress. Its techniques have been proved to have a calming effect on the body and the mind and are a holistic approach to physical disorders. No matter what a person’s conditions are, and what approach to yoga they take, if it’s done in a safe way it has an impact on mental and physical health.
In case of any medical conditions always seek advice of your GP before starting your Yoga Pratice.
Bennett R., (2015), handouts day 9, 21st of March 2015, Fight or Flight
Bennett R., (2015), handouts day 9, 21st of March 2015, What happens when we relax?
Boolani H., Reddy N., Atkins d., and Lakkireddy d., (2013), Healing the Heart: Can Yoga be the Missing Piece that Completes the Puzzle in Modern Medicine?, Yoga and Physical Therapy 3: 148. doi:10.4172/2157-7595.1000148
Davies M., (2008), The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook
McCall T., (2007), Yoga as Medicine
Saraswati N., (2005), Seeing Yoga, a contemplation of Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras
Saraswati S., (1983), Meditation from the tantras
Saraswati S., (1998), Yoga Nidra
Saraswati S., (2008), Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha
Sarkar, D. and Deepak, A. , 2009. Yoga Therapy for Countering the Adverse Effects on Astronauts’ Health Due to Micro-G or Zero-G Environment: A Concept Study http://www.yogaforspacehealth.com/downloads/Yoga-For-Space-Health.pdf
Smitha C. at al, 2007, A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, v 15, pp. 77—83
Tortora G., Derrickson B., (2011), Principles of Anatomy & Phisiology
Posted in Uncategorized and tagged #yoga, Crewe Yoga, yoga and stress, yoga and stress relief, yoga Cheshire, Yoga Crewe by Anna Smithers with .
Please see below link to article I wrote recently. It’s about stereotypes about yoga and my perception of it. I hope you enjoy it.
Posted in News and tagged #yoga, is yoga a religion, questions about yoga, stereotypes about yoga by Anna Smithers with .
Orange Lotus Yoga Classes – August 2020
LIVE classes are back!
- Mondays 8pm – 9.30 pm – Weekly Gentle Hatha Yoga back in studio 22! (No class Bank Holiday Monday). See safety assessment below, £25 for 4 classes, £7 per class – text Anna on 07821417634 to book before paying. Only 12 spaces. Bank transfers and card payments preferred, however if that’s not an option please let me know. I am not able to refund Eventbrite fees. Studio 22, 22 high street, Crewe, CW2 7BL, entrance from Oak Street car park.
Monthly access Tickets £25:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gentle-hatha-yoga-online-4-weeks-ticket-with-discount-tickets-115469158361
or pay via paypal – paypal.me/annasmithers. Contact me on 07821417634 for account details to avoid charges. As a self-employed person, I understand that for some of us financial situation can be difficult. If you cannot pay the full amount, please contact me directly.
- Yoga in the garden – contact me if you are interested, weather permitting
- 1:1 indoors back again
Posted in News and tagged #yoga, crewe hatha yoga, crewe meditation, crewe relaxation, Crewe Yoga, yoga Cheshire, Yoga Crewe by Anna Smithers with .
Today I would like to keep you a bit longer than usual. Person attending my mindfulness/relaxation class, wrote to me with the practice experience and with the permission – I am sharing. Love the creative way. Obviously, that doesn’t have to be your experience, but I just want to show you how exciting the journey into yourself may be! Searching for the true Self…
This person is practicing meditation for 1.5 years now. Thank you so much for sharing and allowing me to pass it on!
Sending love and light
Our live streaming online class each Wednesday 8PM
Who said that?
I don’t know about you, but I have long been aware of at least two Me’s, although I have only recently begun to understand their relationship with each other. The two Me’s are the “Story- Teller” me and the “Narrator” me.
The Story-Teller me, is the one you hear when I talk out loud. Words come out of my mouth and both you and I can hear them.
The Narrator me, is the one that only I can hear in my head. You can’t hear this one, but it is always there. In fact, this is the one I can hear now as I type, it is saying the words and my fingers are doing the typing.
In fact, the Narrator me is nearly always there. It hardly every stops, always chattering away randomly, repeatedly, arguing, challenging everything, worried about everything. It is the storm going on around.
These two Me’s are not different people in anyway, just a different version of the one “Me”
The Narrator also has an eye, it’s the “Mind’s Eye”. It can see things just like my real eyes but in a different way. It’s the visual imagination. Nothing particularly weird, spiritual or insightful but still there all the same. As the Narrator is chatting on, it is creating images in the mind of what it means. As other conversations, noises, sights, feelings come in form the senses outside, it is building new images in my mind. Oddly, I can’t actually see the Mind’s Eye itself, but I can see the canvas it places the images on. The “Movie” screen. This constant Movie of images is all part of the chattering, a part of the storm. To find the eye of the storm, is to quieten the Narrator and switch off the Movie.
Sometimes I am aware of it going quiet when it is in sync with the Story-Teller me. These are the times the Narrator is being able to externalise what it is says through the Story -Teller. This is why I think writing is good because it often allows this sync to happen. A type of shortcut or bypass. A version of truth. Sometimes the Narrator goes quiet when it is listening, but usually not for long.
I find another way of quietening the Narrator, through Meditation. However, this is a different type of quiet. It’s not in sync with the Story-Teller as such, because the Story-Teller is either not present or maybe is quiet also. It is rare I find this quiet Narrator time, but it does happen. Concentrating on the breath or any other singularity, reduces the Narrators chatter to a hum, or an “ommmm….”, or sometimes even more rarely, even an absolute nothing. The Narrator is listening for longer.
Both the Narrator, me and the Movie screen are in my head. Inside my skull. The Eye “sees” from there and I “hear” the Narrator’s voice from there. I expect this because this is where I have always assumed the “I” of me exists. Both my consciousness and unconsciousness live there.
During the body scan last week, I experienced a third Me. One that wasn’t a Story-Teller me or a Narrator me and more interesting wasn’t in my head.
I (both Me’s) hear your guided description, Feet, Lower Legs, etc. My Narrator me, is instructing my Minds Eye to look at these body parts (along with lots of other random chatter in the background), and the image of the body part is placed on my Movie screen in my head. At which point I experience, feel, see the body part in isolation. This is pretty normal for me. I try not to listen to everything the Narrator is saying, especially the unrelated background chatter, and try not to pay to much attention to the Movie. Instead, I try and just let it just happen without the Narrator, narrating and displaying the events.
As you direct I/me to be aware of my Arms, my Head etc, all is normal, as it usually is. The Narrator me and the Movie are both playing their role but getting quieter. But then you said something along the lines of “be aware of your brain”. A this point, without realising it at first, I moved out of my head and “felt” I was looking at my head (where my brain exists) and seeing the Narrator and the Move screen (which is where they both exist) from somewhere else.
At first it was like when you put two mirrors face to face, and they produce infinite images of each other. Because the act of looking at my brain and head, which contained the Movie screen, which is usually what I watch, was like looking at a Movie of a Movie.
It was at this moment I also felt I was seeing the Story-Teller me and the Narrator me and the Movie screen as a whole for the first time. But then I became aware that in order for this to be happening, I had to be looking from a new place. A place outside of the normal place of the head. I also realised for a split second that I was looking at all this from a new Me I had not been aware of before.
Was this an out of body experience? Was this the new Me? A real Me?
I have no idea what it was, but it was a new experience. This thought process will be continued….
Posted in Uncategorized and tagged #yoga, Cheshire Yoga, Crewe Yoga, Meditation, mindfulness, online meditation, online relaxation, Relaxation, who am I, yoga Cheshire, Yoga Crewe by Anna Smithers with .
Another idea for the bathroom, for those who are using cotton buds.
As always you can have a look in the shop or if you live in Crewe, Cheshire, we have brand new zero waste opened!
Check it out and please support it! Together we can make a difference!
Link to the store https://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/
Link to article https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics…
#plastic #plasticfree #plasticfreehouse #saynotoplastic #reduceplastic #orangelotusyoga #annasmithers #plasticcottonbuds #ecocottonbuds
Posted in how to reduce plastic usage in the house and tagged #yoga, Crewe Yoga, online yoga, plastic, plastic free, plastic free house, reduce plastic, say no to plastic, Yoga Crewe by Anna Smithers with .