Most readers of this blog are well aware of the toll stress can take on your enjoyment of life as well as your health and well being.Often it is the advent of a significant life event, stress related medical concern or other acute difficulty that signal some change in how to handle the stresses of life is necessary. It is not surprising that in my experience stress management goals are among the greatest motivation for students’ initial interest in Yoga.
The impact of stress in our lives and well being is not limited to these “big” concerns, of course. With regard to the mental and physical response to stress that comes with “normal”ups and downs of day to day life, the familiar or usual stressful times such as holidays(“distress”), as well as the stress response that accompanies positive transitions or challenges in our life(“eustress”), our bodies response is the basically the same. Because we believe we have these things “handled” through our normal repertoire of coping skills it is common that we can minimize the toll these challenges can take on our health and well-being. Some of those coping skills are less than constructive or limited in their benefits so for many here the practice of Yoga can come to the rescue.
it is important is developing the habit of practicing the great solutions Yoga and mediation can be to the your overall health and well being. A balance between group classes and or individual sessions and your home practice can build and sustain the habits of practice, keep things vital and interesting deepen you skills to support your growth and unfolding over time.
Just as importation is to be comfortable utilizing some in the moment alternatives to deal with stress. This can range from mindfulness reminders(there are apps for that) to more formal short breathing breaks, gentle stretching and simple sitting or walking meditations.
One such practice is Sitkari Pranayama or “Heart Centered Breath. It is a unique compared to other yoga breath practices in that is a cooling breath practice and as I have described elsewhere, ideal to cool the body and mind in warmer weather. Still, its powerful impact on stress and its accumulate effects know no season and this makes it a great compliant to your Yoga asana practice as well as soothe and unwind in stressful time.
As powerful as it is pleasant to practice, the Yogapedia website lists the benefits Yogis have described for this practice as follows:
“Because of its cooling effect, sitkari pranayama is believed to benefit the nervous system and endocrine glands. It is also thought to offer the following additional benefits:
Reduces excess bile
Controls hunger and thirst
Relaxes the body and mind
Helps lower blood pressure
Benefits those fighting insomnia.”(1)
I have outlined the practice of Sitkari Breath elsewhere on this blog. You can read about how to practice here.