What is common between a teenager, 20-30 something and a 55-year-old these days? Stress. When a person is stressed, not only is his body in chaos, he also becomes restless and nervous. Stress leads to disease, disorders and rapid ageing. Stress also leads to a decline in clarity, creativity, competence and confidence.
Cortisol or stress hormone
To understand the harm caused by stress, we need to understand the role of the stress hormone ‘cortisol’. Cortisol is a critical hormone secreted by the adrenal glands; its levels in the bloodstream vary depending on the time of the day. Cortisol is important for keeping in check blood pressure, fat and carbohydrate metabolism for quick energy, insulin release and blood sugar levels. However, excess cortisol is secreted during physical and psychological stress. Excess cortisol alters immune system responses and suppresses digestive and reproductive systems, and growth processes. When the body functions below its optimum level, the consequences can be disturbed sleep, weight gain, hormonal issues, diabetes, and blood pressure, dry and dull skin, dark circles, hair loss, etc.
Beat stress with yoga
Continual preoccupation with work, family, socialising, travel and gadgets leaves no scope for the essential ‘me’ time, a time which you devote to yourself, your health and well-being. It could include an hour out for yoga, a walk on the beach, going out to a favourite place, watching a movie or anything that relaxes you.
Yoga is the best way to keep your stress levels in check and be focused and calm. For centuries yogis have researched and practised this science to live a long, healthy and vibrant life. When you practise yoga regularly, it improves organ health and balances the endocrine system that regulates all body functions. It influences your mood and energy levels. The happy hormone endorphin is secreted and cortisol is lowered when you do yoga and this keeps you relaxed.
Stress relief is achieved through regular practice of postures (especially inverted postures), kriyas (cleansing techniques), bandhas (neuro-muscular locks) and pranayama (regulation of breath). Postures increase blood circulation through stretching and contraction of muscles. There is increase in oxygen supply to organs and enhanced oxygen absorption through pranayama. The increased stimulation of the endocrinal glands through postures and neuro-muscular locks which boosts hormonal secretions is incomparable to that due to any other physical activity or exercise form. When the body operates well, the mind naturally feels more relaxed and alert and the vice-versa. You see an overall boost in your health, fitness levels and personality through regular practice of yoga.
YOGIC TIP TO STAY STRESS FREE:
Inhale through the nose for 5 counts, hold your breath for 10 counts and exhale from the mouth for 10 counts. Practice 10-20 rounds of this every day to remain stress-free.