WE ALL KNOW what stress is, it’s that driver who cuts us up at the roundabout, it’s the mum who makes a weird comment about our yoga pants at the school gate, it’s the 100th email today that you don’t have time to read. How does it affect you? Do you feel sick in your stomach? Do you punch the computer? Do you hunt out that chocolate bar that you carefully stored out of eyesight?
Stress is a natural response and goes back to when we were cavemen and women. It helped us run away from sabre-toothed tigers. It got energy into our muscles and made our heart beat faster so we could either run or stay and fight, the ‘fight or flight’ response. But after we had fought or fled, we relaxed, we chilled with the rest of the tribe. What do we do now? We open another email, we carry on driving and shouting at people, we inwardly growl at the other mum. We store all the stress up and we don’t have an outlet.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee in his book ‘The Stress Solution’ talks about micro-stressors, like the morning alarm, and how these gradually build during the day. How can yoga help us balance these stressors? How can we learn to help ourselves when it all gets a bit too much? We do have the tools to heal ourselves, we just need to know how to use them. The first is the breath, this oversees our autonomic nervous system, both the ‘fight and flight’ aspect and the ‘rest and digest’ element. By slowing our exhale we begin to make contact with our innate healing system.
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