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
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…