Posts made in March, 2014

Yoga and meditation in combating the effects of stress. Laura Wilson.

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Yoga and meditation in combating the effects of stress. Laura Wilson.

I have been teaching corporate yoga or yoga classes within the workplace for more than two years.  My current clients include The Scottish Government, Edinburgh University, Ingeus and Citizens Advice Scotland.  I was recently interviewed by Edinburgh Evening News about my experience of teaching corporate yoga and my thoughts on the benefits a regular yoga and meditation practice may offer to people in high stress environments. Below is a short article in which I hope to address in simplistic terms the issue of stress and the benefits yoga and meditation can offer in combating the effects. Of course like any physical exercise yoga leaves you feeling good – it releases endorphins, builds stamina, strength and flexibility and supports all the major systems to function healthily which inevitably, over time will all have a positive effect.  Alongside these more obvious benefits however, a regular yoga practise offers a more comprehensive, holistic and subtle set of benefits which can greatly enhance mental and physical health and well-being. It is common knowledge that in our modern world stress is a huge factor when considering health and well-being.  Sharing the same physiology as out ancient ancestors but contending with very different daily routines can mean we are all too often stuck in the “fight or flight” mode which thousands of years ago would have saved our lives. When our stress response is triggered the automatic nervous system kicks in, our heart races as we mobilize the body for immediate reaction.  Our body is flooded with hormones and non-essential systems such as the digestive, reproductive or urinary temporarily shut down.  This response to stress is of course essential in certain (but usually rare situations) when our life may be in danger. Our problems begin when the non-life threatening stresses of our daily lives – crossing the road, meeting a deadline, getting the kids to school, writing the presentation, organising the wedding, paying the bills etc. merit the very same physiological reaction.  In order for the body to return to its natural state once this stress response has been triggered it needs activity – it needs us to either stay and fight or fly.  When we do neither (rather ignoring the response nor continuing on with our day) the body is unable to reset itself and continues to produce large amounts of stress hormones.  Prolonged exposure to these hormones, particularly cortisol can have devastating effects on both our mental and physical health and well-being.  The body is not able to recover from one episode before another is actioned, creating a culminate build-up of stress in the body. In very simplistic terms, what yoga and meditation practices offer in combating this dangerous cycle of stress related build up are; a) A tonic to the build-up through calming techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and being present in the body which allow the body to return to a more natural and neutral state of being. b) Increasing the possibility of reducing inappropriate activation of the sympathetic nervous system. A regular yoga practise empowers the practitioner to regulate their own emotional levels and not to get caught in the fight or flight loop unnecessarily. c) By cultivating acceptance and a more mindful approach to life’s challenges yoga promotes self-confidence and self-kindness as well as building resilience which assists in coping with all too common disorders such as stress. The key to keeping on top of your stress levels when you are unable to change the amount of work you are required to do is regularity of practice, little and often.  Whether  this is taking time out to stretch at your desk, starting or ending your day with a ten minute meditation, factoring into your week a regular yoga class or incorporating breathing exercises into your morning routine.  These small changes will, in my experience and over time have enormous benefits to your quality of life. Enjoy!...

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