Yoga and management of stress

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What is stress?

Stress is any kind of pressure that effect a person in his daily life. This effect may be healthy or unhealthy depending on his reactions on the stress factors. As per this definition there are three factors which make up the stress. The first is the causative factors also called stressor, second is the individual make up of the person affected, and third is the reaction of the individual and the meaning attached to the stressor All combined create stress Stress = stressor + individual make up + individual reaction and meaning

As per Hans Selye limited stress work as stimulant but too much stress for a prolonged period may cause havoc and will manifest in the form of disease.

A common Problem

It is thought that as many as 60% of visits to the doctor are directly related to stress. There are different factors that can cause these stress related symptoms but worries about work or money are the most common. But, nowadays, due to employment many women as men suffer from symptoms of stress, due to pressure at work. It has been estimated that more than 40% of absenteeism at work place can be attributed to stress and the cost of stress to the society is huge when calculated in terms of reduced productivity at work place due to health problems and other indirect consequences of stress.

Stress affects blood pressure. It has been argued that aggressive people (Type A) are more likely to develop heart disease than those who are relaxed (Type B). Smoking and unnatural diet, however, are now, thought to influence our health more.

Type A personality: People who are highly competitive find it difficult to delegate and have few interests outside work likely to suffer from stress.

Type B personality: People who are easy going, able to relax and are not over competitive, are less likely to develop stress- related health problems.

Causes of stress

Stress can be caused by a variety of reasons both internal and external

Some of which are listed below.

  • Money problems
  • Pace of modern life and instinct of over competitiveness
  • Rising number of family disputes due to dual standards
  • Unfulfilled demands over a long period
  • Health problems both hereditary and chronic
  • Excessive noise. Harmful electronic radiations Viz x-rays, mobile phones and computer monitor radiations
  • Crime in community
  • Negative emotions like hate, envy, fear, jealousy and worry.

All in the mind

A psychosomatic illness is a medical condition that is caused or worsened by psychological factors, such as stress. However, because almost every illness is linked with our mental state. This condition is only regarded as psychosomatic. If emotional problem dominate our life. Psychosomatic illnesses are not just imaginary; they are genuine medical disorders.

Relieving the symptoms

Reducing stress by naturopathic methods, yogic means and performing daily relaxation exercises with breathing technique, can help to relieve many of the symptoms of a psychosomatic illness.

Mind over matter- The placebo effect: – Your state of mind can influence your health. In 40 percent of people a tablet which contains no medicine but only sugar (Known as placebo) will prove to be effective in relieving pain, anxiety, and other symptoms. The simple fact that an individual believes the tablet will work is enough to over- come many different symptoms.

SYMPTOMS OF STRESS

  • 1. Regularly having difficulty in falling asleep.
  • 2. Often wanting to cry.
  • 3. Constant feeling tired and lethargic.
  • 4. Rarely laughing or smiling.
  • 5. Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions.
  • 6. Suffering from nervousness.
  • 7. Having recurrent headaches or muscle pains.
  • 8. Being unable to talk to other people.
  • 9. Becoming increasingly short-tempered.
  • 10. Feeling unable to cope with work and situation.
  • 11. Starting to drink or smoke more.
  • 12. Developing explosive rages.
  • 13. Losing interest in sex.
  • 14. Constantly having gloomy, pessimistic thoughts.
  • 15. Eating when not hungry.
  • 16. Lacking in enthusiasm.
  • 17. Driving fast and dangerously.

What effect does stress have on the body?

Research has demonstrated that as people become more and more stressed they become increasingly susceptible to both physical illness and mental problems. The reasons for this association are not yet completely understood. But the following areas of the body seem to be mostly affected by stress.

HAIR Some form of baldness have been linked to high levels of stress.

BRAIN Many mental and emotional problems may be brought on by stress. In extreme cases, long term stress can cause a so called nervous breakdown in which the person is no longer able to cope with day to day problems.

HEART Stress can increase blood pressure which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack. However, tension is not the only, the most important cause of high blood pressure. Other factors, such as your genes, diet and level of exercises, plays a vital role.

IMMUNE SYSTEM Prolonged stress can weaken the immune system. Sufferers are therefore, more susceptible to minor infections, such as cold, boils and skin allergies etc.

DIGESTIVE TRACT Stress is known to cause or aggravate many diseases of the digestive tract, including gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.

MOUTH Mouth ulcers frequently develop in an individual who has become run down by being under too much stressed.

MUSCLES Minor muscle twitches and nervous tics become more noticeable when an individual is over stress.

SKIN Attacks of eczema or psoriasis may suddenly flare up during periods of abnormal stress.

LUNGS Some asthmatics find their conditions are aggravated during emotional upsets.

REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS Stress may result in many types of menstrual disorders. For instance, periods may cease, known as amenorrhea. In man, stress is the most common cause of impotence and premature ejaculation.

BLADDER Many women and some men develop an irritable bladder as a direct response to stressful events.

It is simply not possible to avoid, all stressful situations and events. In fact, to do so would not be healthy, for stress is an essential part of life. If stress is kept under control, it is a positive force that can improve your performance and efficiency and help to keep you alert and out of danger.

A prolonged period of severe stress, or several sources of minor stress, however, are not good for your health. Excessive stress puts your body into a state of emotional turmoil. This agitation may affect a variety of organs and systems within the body and eventually produce many different types of diseases.

Realisation is half the solution, knowing about stress seems o.k. but what are the various ways and means by which we may deal with stress effectively.

Naturopathic management of stress

Recent researches have shown that naturopathy has the reply to stress in a effective way. As management of stress through modern medicine essentially bring in severe side effects and ultimately stress problems are multiplied with side effects in long term. The following naturopathic treatments have proved their effectivity in stress management.

Hydrotherapy

  • Enema
  • Neutral spinal bath/spray.
  • Hot foot bath
  • Hot foot and arm bath
  • Stream bath

Mud therapy

  • Mud pack on Abdomen/eyes
  • Full Mud bath

Massage

  • Full body massage
  • Head and spine massage

A YOGIC APPROACH

yoga and stress managementYoga is a 2000 years old proven stress buster science. The following are some of the yogic techniques which help to control stress effectively.

PRANAYAM

Voluntary regulated breathing or pranayama is basically a mastery over mind through breath, which helps in the management of stress and results are visible within a week’s time.

The following pranayam may be practiced, but of course under the close supervision of a qualified yoga expert only.

KAPALBHATI : With active exhalation and passive inhalation (15 to 30 times initially. May be increased to 120 times gradually but in no condition it should be more than 120 times per round even for a advance practitoner) it works like a billow and action is on abdomen and effect is on face. Kapalbhati is a powerful stress buster.

NADISUDDHI : First inhale from left nostril and exhale from the right nostril, thereafter inhale from right and exhale from left nostril. Please be very careful that retention of breath is not advisable for hypertensive and cardiac patients and same may be avoided by all unless a close supervision of yoga expert is available.

COOLING PRANAYAMA

Sheethli Pranayama – These pranayam induces muscular relexation and soothen eyes.

Sitkari Pranayama – purifies blood and reduces blood pressure very fast.

Sadanta Pranayama – distributes cooling effect through out the body and thus reduces stress immediately.

(More on this here : Basic practice of some pranayamas)

LAYA PRANAYAMA

BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA -This pranayam creates a soothing effect on nervous system. This also reduces anger, anxiety, insomnia and blood pressure, thus relieves stress and cerebral tension. Those who are excessively prone to stress or working in highly competitive professions should do it many times a day and enjoy the state of well being completely.

POSTURES

Muscular stiffness and body pains are common outcome of excessive stress There can probably be no better way to deal with these conditions than yogic postures.

BREATHING EXERCISES

A) Standing

  • Hands in & Out Breathing
  • Hands Stretch Breathing (At 90, 135 and 180 Degrees)
  • Ankle Stretch Breathing

B) Sitting

  • Tiger Breathing
  • Dog Breathing (Breathing from the abdomen)
  • Rabbit Breathing (Breathing form the thorax)

C) Supine

  • Straight Leg Raise Breathing (Alternate leg & Both Legs)

TIPS :-

  • Slow and deep breathing
  • Synchronise inhalations and exhalations with the physical movements.
  • Easy, effortless and continuous physical movements.
  • Maintain awareness.
  • In case of Straight Leg Raise Breathing don’t bend the knees and don’t’ take the leg(s) beyond 90 degree.

LOOSENING EXERCISE : (Sithilikarana Vyayama)

a) YOGIC JOGGING

  • Simple or slow jogging
  • Backward jogging (heels hitting the buttocks)
  • Side Jogging (heels almost reaching the elbows)
  • Forward Jogging (thighs raised to chest heights)

(One minute of yogic jogging is equivalent of one kilo meter of walk, if you miss your morning walk due to lack of time or rains you may do five minutes of yogic jogging which would be equal to five kilo meters of walk)

SURYANAMASKAR : (Sun Salutation )

Surya namaskar is a unique combination of pranayam and asana that is why surya namaskar is preferred after breathing exercises and before the asans. Suryanamaskar is a complete yoga in itself, those who do not know yoga or does not have time or opportunity to learn can derive the very same benefits from surya namaskar which will otherwise available from formal yogic postures.

TIPS :-

  • It is a combination of yogasana and pranayama.
  • Proper synchronization of breathing with the physical movements.

It is often said that stress is one of most destructive factor in a common man’s daily life but the same is only half truth. As the more important is the way we react to stress appears to be more crucial than stress itself. Naturopathic and yogic tools have proved its efficacy in holistic management of stress.

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Research news on benefits of yoga :

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