Often, we might see articles about stress relief during the holiday season or another supposedly “busy” time of year. The truth is, every time of the year has the potential to be a stressful one, as self-care seems to become less and less of a priority in our lives.
The original stress response is what you know as the “fight-or-flight” response. You experience potential danger, your adrenaline kicks in, and you respond. As our lives have become more secure and our jobs have become less physical, that stress is yes, still triggered by danger, but also comes about in response to, a) outside stressors-bosses, deadlines, being late, and b) inside stressors-worry, anxiety, frustration, hurt.
As you might expect, yoga offers a variety of options to deal effectively with stress responses. Yoga takes an inside-out approach, working on what you can control, inside stressors, and allowing that to impact outside stressors. Here are some points of emphasis from yoga that can relieve stress both inside and outside of a yoga class:
Intentional Focus-Yoga makes a point to focus on the present moment. This does two things: crowds out thoughts of potential happenings and the worries associated with them, and allows you to appreciate and engage what is in front of you. When you notice yourself daydreaming during a meeting or conversation, come back to the moment and notice something in the room or conversation to connect to.
Worry in Perspective-Worry is about control. You want to control that which is uncertain. Use this knowledge to control your worry. If there is an actionable step to take that will positively impact that which you are worrying about, do it. If there is only waiting to be done, let your worry go. There is no reason to worry; it leads only to stress and not to resolution.
Breath-Intentional breathing has been linked to decreased anxiety and stress. It is also a tool to focus on the present moment. Even a few deep breaths can relax and center you.
It’s pretty easy to read an article like this and dismiss it as not being that easy. And you’d be right; it isn’t. It’s not an easy practice for me even as a yoga teacher. But, if you let go of the expectation that you will be transformed immediately or that you must be good at this right away, your inner monologue will subtly shift towards experiencing less stress in your mind, and by extension, your life.