Most people are conscious of how their body appears rather than how it feels. Credit goes to the media-hyped concepts of body image and trivial definitions surrounding “beauty” and “fitness”. The marketing norms encourage myths like thin people do not need yoga or any fitness regime for that matter. Our definition of health is as big as the box that contains a body shaper. While another mass of ill-informed yoga enthusiasts assume that yoga is just another hack trending in the name of a quick fix for aches and cure-it-all for any kind of ailments.
However, yoga is the most prevalent answer not only among spiritual trainers but also psychologists, therapists, and doctors around the world. Beyond physical well being, they recommend yoga for treating depression, insomnia, and addictions. These conditions have more to do with the mind than the body.
You are attending a meeting with your boss; your mobile phone is ringing, and your partner wants to know about dinner. Does this sound like a familiar scenario when you feel stressed and agitated? Prolonged or constant stress emerging from conflicts and challenges we face in our day-to-day life is the road map to stress borne health problems like insomnia, anxiety, depression, aches, and even cardiovascular disease.
Let us understand how stress works before we learn to pacify it. When the mind encounters a stressful event, it triggers an immediate response in the autonomic nervous system, commonly known as the flight-or-fight response. This response demands activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System following which the body is flooded with hormones that lead to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and heightened awareness and focus. As a result, the Parasympathetic Nervous System, accountable for physical relaxation and emotional calm, is overwhelmed.
Human beings developed this survival mechanism so that they could face life-threatening situations like hunting and fires in the primal time and is still useful today to apply brakes and avoid accidents or run away from an attacker. However, modern lifestyle and work routines lead to excessive stress cycles leaving our physical, mental, and emotional well-being vulnerable. Prolonged or constant stress emerging from conflicts and challenges we face in our day-to-day life is the road map to stress borne health problems like insomnia, anxiety, depression, aches, and even cardiovascular disease.
Consistent practice of yoga inculcates a physiological state opposite to that of the flight-or-fight stress response nurturing balance and union between the mind and body. This union of the finite with the infinite, the manifest to unmanifest is Yoga. One learns to rein within to find peace and align with nature’s rhythm instead of staggering in the name of “soul searching”. Emotional equilibrium, mindfulness, and calm borne from the practice of yoga are fruits worth savoring. Such a path is greatly pertinent in times of shrinking attention spans, cognitive deficits, and shallow thinking.
Researchers have found that six weeks of practicing Hatha Yoga increased the activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System, the calming side without decreasing the influence of the sympathetic side which is essential for combating real-life dangers.
Studies also suggest that even a single session of yoga practice can encourage the nervous system to find flexibility and balance. This study provides promising evidence that yoga as a practice can prepare one to meet life’s challenges and not just recover from them.
Overeating or casual munching because you are stressed, bored, or just need some distraction are some of the eating disorders gripping many of us today. Unhealthy and uncontrolled eating habits can start with an obsession with food and even result in addictions. The Buddhist philosophy believes that the roots of addiction are in the mind. Through the practice of yoga and meditation, there is a positive shift in the attitude from self-harm, disrespect, and cravings towards a more respectful, caring, and compassionate approach towards one’s own body. Yoga has been associated with reduced cravings and even reduction in smoking habits across several studies. One study found that women yoga practitioners exhibit a sense of well-being and greater satisfaction with their physical appearance and fewer eating disorders, compared to non-yoga practitioners.
Waiting in a long queue when you have deadlines to reach someplace else, an agitated colleague, or an outrage from a family member are situations that demand patience and poise. In moments like these, it doesn’t matter whether you are fat, skinny, or can hold an amazing headstand. What matters is our capacity to monitor our emotions when things don’t go our way and be able to think clearly in crisis.
This ancient science of healing is the undebatable answer to the problems of the modern world. Yoga is your organic recipe for a better self towards a better world.