Yoga is one of the most widely recognized yet most misunderstood stress management techniques. Most people consider it to be just a collection of stretches that are combined with syncopated breathing. In actuality it is one of the six classical systems of Hindu philosophy, one in which the ultimate goal is a complete understanding of god. Traditional Yoga, which gets its name from the Hindu word for union, is compromised of eight steps that are designed to lead towards ultimate understanding of the universe if mastered. The physical aspects from the original yoga are what have been adapted to what we call “yoga” in the west, mainly the breathing and positions with the minimal amount of meditation thrown in the mix. This is what will be the subject of this paper in terms of how it is done, how it relieves stress, where it can be practiced, and most importantly what the benefits are in terms of stress.
Yoga can be practiced anywhere. It is typically practiced in classes or groups under the auspices of one who is trained in the mannerism and positions of yoga. These classes meet all over the country in such places as local YMCAs and health clubs. They generally provide most the equipment need aside from the dress. While no equipment is required to perform yoga most people choose to use a mat to avoid slippage and tight fitting clothing that can provide for contortion and stretching. This allows for the greatest range of positions to the user. Anyone can do yoga, but it is typically recommended that those with arthritis and back problems avoid it in order to abstain from further aggravating their injuries.
Modern yoga is done as a routine. It is advisable to avoid eating an hour before performing yoga as there are contortions that can put undue pressure on the stomach that could cause regurgitation of food. The typical session starts off with a bit of warm up exercises to prepare the body along with the mind for what is to come. A routine of positions follows the warm up. This routine is usually a wide variety of positions that do not repeat and are held from a few seconds up to a few minutes depending on the position. They are typically done in a manner that is slow and steady and syncopated with the breathing. After the physical session there is typically a time for meditation that should leave the practitioner with a feeling of spiritual and physical peace and well-being.
This is how yoga affects the level of stress in people, in both a physical and psychological manner. The contortions and positions of the body are designed so that by going through an entire routine every muscle group in the body is given a work out. This helps to relieve the physical manifestations of stress that occur in places such as the neck. Yoga also provides for a slowing of the bodily functions which helps to relive stress also. The thing that sets yoga away from other exercise routines is the mental aspect. By enforcing a reliance on practicing yoga with a clear mind it also provides for a release and time off from the worries of the everyday world. It also provides for inner reflection which also can help with the dealing of stress. The combination of these two parts provide for an ultra effective stress busting mechanism.
In conclusion yoga is a very versatile means of exercise. Not only does it provide a mild exercise to the body and an increase in flexibility to the user, it also provides for an excellent place to relive stress. That is why it is such a wondrous and popular thing known the world wide.