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

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Sports

Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…