Train Your Body to Relieve Stress with Yoga
My 15-year old son is learning how to drive and the benefit to me is I get to explore the sensation of stress. As soon as we walked out of the driver’s license office with his learner’s permit he wanted to drive. We found a nearly empty parking lot and I let him have a try. After he started the ignition he mashed the gas pedal and the car lurched forward. Thank goodness it was a standard transmission and the car stalled. With my heart thumping out of my chest I realized he had never been behind the wheel of a car.
It’s been well publicized that exercise relieves stress.
There’s nothing like taking a run or working out hard at the gym after white knuckling it in a car ride with your teen. But yoga in particularly has shown to not only give an outlet for anxious energy, but also teach the body and mind to reduce stress. In addition to eating healthy food, taking your prescribed medications and getting rest, reducing stress is important for your overall health.
The emotional brain is always battling the logical brain to control stress levels. The emotional brain triggers the sympathetic nervous system or the “fight or flight response” beating the heart, pumping blood and getting the body ready to react. Meanwhile, the logical brain triggers the parasympathetic nervous system that keeps your body in a normal or more relaxed and digestive state.
The emotional brain reacts to the teenager driving or talking back or other things teens do. This can cause the heart rate to rise; muscles tense and stress fill the body like a boiling teakettle. If you’re in this state for long periods of time it weakens your blood vessels, stresses your heart, releasing stress hormones to wreak havoc on the body.
If you can allow your logical brain to override these feelings, realizing that everybody learns how to drive and very few die, your stress levels will decrease and the body will be healthier.
You can train your logical brain to win over the emotional brain by practicing yoga!
When we are focused on yoga working to form poses and focusing on balancing we’re training the logical brain to take control. Certain poses trip relaxation points, like bending forward in a fold or taking the child’s pose. But other poses trip stress responses or the emotional brain when we for example try balancing with our eyes closed. But if instead of reacting with fear and popping open the eyes, we stay focused on keeping our composure, it trains the mind to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and bring stress levels down. It then starts to become easier to call on the logical brain when in stressful situations.
I must admit I generally feel calmer since I started regularly practicing yoga. After nine months of being chauffeured, I feel more tranquil. While my son is getting better at mastering the road, I still feel the anxiety start to rise when there is bad weather or he wants to drive on a mountain road. Taking deep breaths helps me to trigger the logical brain and the parasympathetic system and so far my blood pressure is staying normal.
Science Behind Yoga & Stress: