Stress 101: Stepping Gently Into Your Body With Yoga

For many, yoga still belongs to the land of human pretzels and tie dyed, aging hippies. Yet for those of my clients recovering from overwhelming stress, yoga is also one of the most commonly used and effective forms of healing.

“Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit meaning “to join, unite, or attach.” Attachment is crucial to healthy relationships; to understand, click here. It encompasses, in its eight limbs, all aspects of a healthy life: our ability to be both supported by and support our community, our gaining of knowledge and wisdom, our ability to go within and calm our minds through meditation. Breathwork (Pranayama) and body movement (Asana) allow us to enter our bodies gradually. It finds energy that has become stuck and invites it to begin flowing once more. It is even good preparation for entering a deeper meditative state, and when we combine the two, we become more mindful, and more present.

This use of breath and movement to heal have a powerful effect on our chaotic systems, our anxiety, our lack of motivation. Yin, or Restorative, Yoga brings the body into and out of comforting poses. It encourages the bodies to switch from fight/flight to rest/digest. Andrea Silver, a yoga teacher who also practices as a licensed therapist and supervisor, says this about her work: “Yin yoga teaches us about patient stillness. By holding poses for from one to five minutes we stretch the joints, ligaments, and facia rather than more yang yoga which stretches the muscles.  We give our bodies the message that we will slow down and breathe deeply and allow whatever arises to arise. Holding ourselves in awareness and acceptance with patient stillness, we can make room for trauma we are holding in our bodies and the accompanying emotions to be experienced and released.” Here is an example of what yoga can look like:

Overwhelming stress takes us away from our bodies. We become numb, and constantly seek to distract ourselves. We do not live in the present moment. The path towards healing must therefore reunite us with our physical selves. Yoga, in its more gentle, restorative forms is a profound antidote to our overwhelming lives, as many of my clients will attest.

If you suffer from chronic stress, I strongly urge you to consider this as a path to go from numbing to living your best, vital life.