Beat Stress with Yoga, Part 2

YogaPose

This post originally appeared on www.HealthBytesNYC.com

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on yoga and stress.
In part 1 of this series, I discussed how adopting a yoga practice as part of your routine can help you manage stress and bring a sense of well-being to your life. Here, I will focus in more detail on how various yoga poses, or asana, can help you cultivate balance and flexibility, both on and off the mat.

Calm in the Face of Stress
Yoga teaches us to approach challenging poses (i.e., stress) with a balance of steadfast determination and calm focus. If you try to bully your way through the posture with too much energy and fire, the pose is overpowered. If you adopt an attitude of defeat and plan your exit strategy without even attempting the pose, you immediately surrender to what you have labeled an insurmountable task. Either way, you make no progress and the asana remains a perceived threat rather than a challenge to be mastered.

A skillful yogi lets her breath initiate and guide her physical movements and poses. By learning to pay deliberate and conscious attention to your inhalation and exhalation, your nervous system fluctuates comfortably in a healthy, balanced and flexible manner. When coupled with intentional attention to the breath, poses that challenge you physically and mentally teach you to maintain calm in the face of stress.

Learning from Yoga
Each category of yoga poses fortifies the yogi with unique tools to meet real-life stresses effectively:
• Standing Postures — These teach you to pause and focus your energy as you ground and root down to find balance. In tree pose, you also learn to remain engaged and able to move with the natural fluctuations when standing on one leg, as pictured in the photo above.
• Inversions — Postures where the head is below the level of the heart teach us to become more comfortable with looking at things from a different perspective.
• Back Bends — An invigorating and energizing class of poses, back bends teach you to become comfortable with exposing your more vulnerable side, your front body. You also learn how to return adeptly and efficiently to a more relaxed state.
• Forward Folds — These are typically calming poses that give you the opportunity to reflect and adopt a quiet and introspective attitude.
Some poses create feelings of fear and even dread in some yogis. Headstand, handstand and some extreme backbends, for example, teach you how to confront your fear of falling and hurting yourself, through composure and focused intention. Hip openers can be particularly difficult for many people, creating intense sensations and emotional release. These poses teach you to breath into, rather than reflexively pull away from, the discomfort and give it time to dissipate. Above all, yoga poses teach humility, ego control and a good sense of humor — all benefits in any stressful situation you will ever encounter!

A Gift to Yourself
A yoga practice that ends with a period of meditation gives you the opportunity to turn inward and let go. The practice of meditation is a sanctuary and gift you can give yourself. It teaches you, over time, to quiet the incessant chatter of your mind, and is a personal retreat from the rest of the world, if only briefly.

If your entire yoga practice consists of nothing more than sitting quietly in a comfortable seated posture while repeating a personal mantra (think “Let” on the inhale, for example, and “Go” on the exhale), allowing you to face life stresses more effectively, then you have a very advanced practice, indeed.

Let Yoga Be Your Guide
By learning to pay attention to how you perceive and label stresses or challenges in your yoga practice, you gain insight into how you react to stresses in your life off the mat, as well. Yoga gives you all the tools you need to remain present and focused, engaged and calm, energized and in control, flexible, balanced and intentional. When you use your yoga practice as a guide in your interactions and behavior with others, you can purposefully and consciously choose the path of response that is most beneficial and appropriate — surmounting challenges and stresses that you might otherwise have found daunting and impossible to meet.

Information provided by Jennifer Svahn, MD, FACS, Attending Vascular Surgeon in the Department of Surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center and a Registered Yoga Teacher.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…