Stress is a common condition, a response to a physical
threat or psychological distress, which generates a host of chemical and
hormonal reactions in the body. However, when the stress reaction is attenuated,
the normal physical functions that have been either exaggerated or shut down
in response become dysfunctional in this extreme state
When a person experiences stress, the brain responds by initiating 1400 different responses including the dumping of a variety of chemicals to our bloodstream. This gives a momentary boost to do whatever needs to be done to
survive. If left unchecked, however, the person can have a heart attack or stroke.
Many people start drinking alcohol. They get depressed, find it difficult to
sleep, experience chest pain. The body runs out of the immunity to fight diseases.
So, very often, these persons die of disease such as cancer, pneumonia, etc.
The stress will never be identified as the cause of the death. one can call
the stress the proxy killer. Some other disease always takes the blame for it.
Doctors call the body's reaction to stress as General Adaptation
Syndrome (GAS). There are three stages to GAS.
In the first stage of GAS called alarm reaction, the body
releases adrenaline and a variety of other psychological mechanisms to combat the
stress and to stay in control. This is called fight or flight response. The
muscles tense, the heart beats faster, the breathing and perspiration increases,
the eyes dilate, the stomach may clench.. Once the cause of the stress is
removed, the body will go back to normal.
If the cause for the stress is not removed, GAS goes to its second stage called resistance
or adaptation. This is the body's response to long term protection.
It secretes further hormones that increase blood sugar levels to sustain energy
and raise blood pressure. If this adaptation phase continues for a prolonged
period of time without periods of relaxation and rest to counterbalance the
stress response, sufferers become prone to fatigue, concentration lapses,
irritability and lethargy as the effort to sustain arousal slides into negative stress.
The third stage of GAS is called exhaustion. In this stage, the body
has run out of its reserve of body energy and immunity. Mental, physical
and emotional resources suffer heavily. The body experiences "adrenal exhaustion".
The blood sugar levels decrease as the adrenals become depleted, leading
to decreased stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion,
illness and collapse.
Yoga is very good for stress. It offers gentle asanas, relaxation,
pranayama, meditation, shat kriyas and hand Mudras. The complete breath exercise can
be done at your desk, in the car or anywhere else when you start to feel
stressed out. Meditation helps calm your mind, teach you to relax at will and giving
you a quick mental vacation whenever you need one. And daily practice of three
or four yoga poses will help ease knotted muscles. Try varying the poses daily
to keep your interest high and to strengthen different parts of your body
Many of the healing effects of yoga are clinically
verified. Yoga has healing effects. However, one of the most important benefits of yoga
is its application in relieving stress, fatigue, invigoration and vitality and
its anti-aging properties and its application for relaxation therapy.
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana
Ardha (half), Baddha (locked), Padma (lotus), Paschima (back) tana
(stretch) asana (posture).
Sit on the floor with the legs stretched straight in front.
Bend the left leg at the knee, and place the left foot over the right thigh. The left heel should press the naval and the toes should be stretched and pointing. This is the half lotus posture.
Bring the left arm round the back from behind and with an exhalation, catch the big toe of the left foot. If the toe cannot be grasped easily, swing back the left shoulder.
Stretch the right arm forward and catch the right foot with the right hand, the palm touching the sole.
Inhale, stretch the back and gaze up for a few seconds, without releasing the grip on the left big toe.
Exhale, move the trunk forward and rest the head on the right knee.
Stay in this position from 30 to 60 seconds, with normal breathing.
Inhale, raise the head and trunk, release the hands, straighten the left leg and come to sthiti.
Repeat the pose on the other side..
The half lotus pose helps in increasing flexibility of the knees and hips.
It also strengthens the knee, hip muscles. Intense stretch of the spine during
the forward bending releases accumulated stresses around lumbar spine.
While maintaining the final posture you can experience the intensity of pressure
on abdominal viscera. This improves blood flow to the intra-abdominal structure
to improve their functional capacity.