Practicing yoga can be a good antidote to stress
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
1/29/13 at 3:37 AM
Dear Doctor K: I know yoga has physical benefits, but is it true yoga can help reduce stress?
Dear Reader: In addition to being great exercise, yoga is one of the best antidotes to the stress of modern living. I won't go as far as saying it is a fountain of youth, but I will say it can be a fountain of calm and equanimity.
In addition to physical postures and exercises, traditional yoga incorporates breath control, deep relaxation, meditation, concentration and mindfulness. These mind-body practices counteract stress by evoking the relaxation response.
When we feel stress, our bodies enter "fight or flight" mode. We release stress hormones that put our brain and body on high alert. This "fight or flight" response was of great help to our distant ancestors when they were running from a lion, and it's also of great help today when we face an urgent and dangerous situation. But over time, stress can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
The relaxation response is essentially the opposite of the stress response. It lowers heart rate and blood pressure and decreases the production of stress hormones. Practicing yoga leads to changes in the mind and body that promote feelings of tranquility and well-being.
Give the following exercises a try to see if they help you to feel more relaxed:
Start by doing this for five minutes. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend on the exercises.
- Select a word, mantra, prayer or thought. Focus your attention on it in a relaxed manner.
- When other, everyday thoughts intrude, let them go. Refocus your attention on step one in a relaxed and patient manner without frustration or judgment.
To learn more, read a short new e-book called "Your Brain on Yoga" by Harvard Medical School's Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, with Jodie Gould. You can learn more about this book at my website, tulsaworld.com/DrK
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106