Can yoga help a global population that is stressed out by technology and the struggle to survive? It is beyond dispute that people living in computerized and industrialized societies are currently undergoing unprecedented levels of stress. Media images of violence, constant messages, having problems with the level of multitasking, and daily commuting to and from work are all examples of stress-inducements that our ancestors of only a few generations ago never imagined having to deal with.
Stress is actually resistance to sensory input that is unfamiliar or disturbing. Stress, or resistance, builds up in the body with unhealthy consequences over time. Yoga, especially Hatha yoga’s physical regimen, provides the means of releasing stress from the body.
The effects of releasing stress by means of working through the 26 poses incorporated into, for example, the hot yoga series quickly become apparent. From the first technique, pranayama, which introduces oxygen into the body with a force and in volumes with which beginning practitioners may not be familiar in their daily lives, the body begins to be cleansed of resistance and invigorated.
Yoga teachers of the many other forms of hatha yoga (of which hot yoga is but one), should, from day one, impart to their students the importance of the breath and mastery of pranayama. One very basic but quite important psychological aspect to the physical discipline of yoga is the increased self-confidence that emanates from taking control of one’s breath.
In fact, teachers of yoga can help their stressed out students reduce anxiety on a daily basis outside the yoga studio by helping them to become conscious of its calming effects. For example, they should encourage their students to pause and consciously breathe deeply at certain places and times during their daily routine, such as when passing a certain landmark at the same time every day. The landmark will serve as a reminder to engage in the calming and vitalizing effects of taking in prana or life force energy.
In the studio, focusing on the breath helps to focus and maintain balance. Not only that, exhaling, according to the Hatha yoga training discipline, actually helps the body to eliminate waste from the body on a more efficient basis. A large proportion of exhaled breath is, of course, carbon dioxide. The body’s trillions of cells also release many other toxic substances. It could be said that negativity in more spiritual and emotional forms are also released by exhaling.
Thus, teaching yoga to stressed out students should be based on imparting a fundamental understanding of the benefits of controlling and directing the breath both in the yoga school and in daily life.
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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