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When life happens, overcome stress with yoga practice

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There’s always something buzz worthy happening across Nigeria. Today it’s the economy, tomorrow it will be the political system and the day after will have its own hot topic. The ups and downs seem endless, but look on the bright side: if there are no ups and downs in your life, you’re no longer living.

Low moments complement high moments, it’s part of the cycle, but what happens when your attention is only on low moments? Stress creeps in and eventually takes everything over. The state of the mind and that of the body are intimately intertwined. If the mind is stressed, the muscles in the body will also be stressed. If the mind is relaxed, the muscles in the body will also be relaxed.

The amount of stress lingering around town seems to heighten when the naira-dollar exchange rate is mentioned. On top of this, it’s the last quarter of the year, self-imposed goals and objectives aren’t complete, unemployment rates soar higher, and the cost of basic needs increase daily. It’s tough out here on these streets and no one is immune to the ebbs and flows of life. The phrase, “suffering and smiling”, comes to mind when some of my clients tell me about newly discovered aches and pain.

Some complain about back aches, while others are experiencing insomnia, fatigue, restlessness or frequent headaches. Signals and reminders from the body are revealed, to inform us that something is off balance, but there’s a tendency to ignore or suppress symptoms for the sake of “getting on with it”. A time will come when avoiding the inevitable is no longer an option as the intensity of the pain will heighten until proper management is provided.

Stress, popularly known for disruptions, doesn’t always feel good or help to maintain a steady wellness level.  However, stress can remind us to pay attention to specific triggers and check inward for the source of the pain.

The Stress Management Society in the United Kingdom defines stress as a primarily physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals to prepare the body for physical action. The American Institute of Stress acknowledges the link between stress and diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Both organizations recognize and support the benefits of practicing yoga to relieve stress.

Anxiety and uncertainty are everywhere and if they’re getting the best of you, it’s time to manage your stress differently.
Unroll your mat and relieve stress with yoga.

Imagine setting an uninterrupted intention for 60 minutes – something you want to create for yourself or something you want to let go of. Keep awareness on your breath; long, even inhalations and exhalations. Visualize your body moving to the beat of its own breath. Observe thoughts one at a time – steady, peaceful, disciplined. Relax, lighten the weight of your shoulders, stomach and knees. Flow with gravity. Visualize peace, and hang out here for as long as you need. Pure bliss, right?

Yoga practice is an opportunity to check in with yourself in a relaxed, conscious state. You may have heard the raves about yoga for stress management. Almost everyone on the planet seems to be acquainted with the physical and psychological benefits of yoga, but just in case you may be feeling left out here’s a brief overview of three poses:

yoga-BackbendBackbends increase mobility of the spine and improves posture and body alignment. Do you sit in front of a computer throughout the day or have a long commute? After sitting for a while, do your shoulders slump forward and does your posture slouch? Backbends stretch the chest and helps to draw shoulders back, which counteract the shoulder slump. As a result, we start to stand taller and alleviate some neck and back pain.

Backbends increase mobility of the spine and improves posture and body alignment. Do you sit in front of a computer throughout the day or have a long commute? After sitting for a while, do your shoulders slump forward and does your posture slouch? Backbends stretch the chest and helps to draw shoulders back, which counteract the shoulder slump. As a result, we start to stand taller and alleviate some neck and back pain.

yoga-ForwardFoldWide-Legged Forward Bend pose lengthens the spinal column and stretches the backs of the legs and the back muscles.

yoga-HeronPoseHeron pose is a seated stretch that targets the back, hips, hamstrings and calves. It also stimulates the heart and abdominal organs, while providing therapeutic relief for flat feet and persistent gas.

Many of the popular techniques proven to reduce stress happen in yoga class:
Conscious breathing
Physical movement
Mental imagery
Meditation
Stretching

To experience these stress relieving techniques for yourself, check out one of my yoga classes at Bodyline Fitness and Gym in Ikoyi or ProFlex Gym in Victoria Island. I look forward to meeting you and hearing about your experience overcoming stress with yoga.
Namaste



1 Comment
  • Debi Williams

    Awesome remedy for these trying times here in LAGOS. Well done.