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Shift Stress into Low Gear

Expert insight about why yoga works.

By Andrea Ferretti

health1500story
You might equate a stress-related health problem with a minor upset stomach or a tension headache. But physician and Yoga Journal medical editor Timothy McCall warns that stress may also fuel chronic illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. "If you are continually stressed, you leave the door open to a variety of health conditions," McCall says. Yoga is an effective stress reducer. Here are McCall's tips for using your practice for that purpose.

Focus on your breath. The ancient yoga masters taught that moving and breathing with awareness quiet the mind. When we stop ruminating and our inner monologue slows, we tend to experience relaxation and a feeling of being centered.

Practice restorative poses and forward bends. Both are thought to calm the nervous system. Use blankets, pillows, and bolsters to support you in the poses.

Be consistent. Long-term, regular practice will encourage a sense of inner peace that will last throughout your day. "This equanimity and mindfulness has countless positive effects, including an appreciation for the beauty around you in every moment," McCall says. "You may even realize that some of what you've been getting worked up about really isn't that important. And that may be the biggest stress reducer of all."


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Reader Comments

lechat

Oooh yeees! It's like you blow out the stress and inhale the white healing light, wring stress out of your body, leaving it rejuvenated, then being thankful in your meditation following the asanas as the endorphins released flood your bloodstream making you feel light and happy..and grateful.

Sarah

As a long-term sufferer of anxiety and depression, which runs like a black streak right through my family, I thought I was doomed to a vicious cycle of anti-depressants and psychotherapy. The drugs never did much for me and finally in my efforts to find a different approach I discovered yoga. I've now been medication free for about two years and not only that but my chronic stress is fading away, only to be seen when it's actually useful. All this from a regular practice of only once or twice a week. I am now a firm believer in the idea of emotions held in the body and strongly urge anyone with similar problems to give yoga a try. Everyone deals with things differently but if you find a teacher you respect and feel comfortablet with you might just find things changiing, little by little, day by day, until suddenly you realise you are moving forward once more, and all under your own steam. Namaste!

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