By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.
-Harvard Health Publishing
Of course, yoga does far more than keep us limber. It releases tensions from our bodies and minds…
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed and stressed, why on earth would you be like ‘Hey, let’s add one more thing?’, right?
It seems when we’re at our limits emotionally, mentally, and as a result, physically and spiritually, the last thing we want to do is add one more thing to our schedules.
That ‘one more thing’, if considering a yoga practice, may feel like 678 more things:
What am I going to wear?
What will people think of me?
How will I pay for this?
Who will care for the kids while I go?
What days will I have the energy to do one more thing?
And on and on…
Answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to starting anything new is rarely as simple as deciding whether you want to do it or not.
What’s interesting is much of the time we feel overwhelmed in life because we fill our time with too many pressures and not enough pressure releases to counter.
Stress and anxiety are normal emotions, but when those normal emotions are felt non-stop, the body and the mind begin to break down, making everything we do feel more and more like torture.
Yes, saying ‘yes’ to starting a yoga practice has familiar ‘one more thing’ feelings. But in taking on this particular ‘one more thing’ you are making a choice to reduce the sense of pressure in all of the other things your life consists of.
For thousands of years Yoga has been used as a means of centering, and in reality, so much of the stress and anxiety we feel comes from feeling off-centered. With that said, I want you to stop and ask yourself the question: In all of the things that occupy my schedule, how many of them are dedicated to recentering myself to better accomplish the tasks that matter most to me? Does that serve as a means of recalibrating myself when blows to my inner stability occur in the course of my days, weeks, and years?
It’s of great importance to have at least one means, at least one, in our regular schedule that allows us to release inner pressure. If our entire schedule is filled with only pressure pumping activity, it only makes sense that we would feel that pressure even when we’re not doing those things, the build-up doesn’t just fade away. Intentional means to release the build-up is necessary.
So, yes, yoga may be one more thing. But it’s one more thing that has the power to make every other thing outside of it feel a lot less anxiety-ridden and stress filled. How? Because it is designed as a means of releasing, hacking away, as Bruce Lee put it, what is unessential, in this case, the chronic stress and anxiety that may be making the rest of your life feel absolutely overwhelming.
If you realized through reading this post that you have far more pressure building activities in your life than pressure reducing, know that you’re not alone; it’s a common imbalance. Also, know that Mountain Yoga Sandy stands ready to administer the ‘one more thing’, a regular yoga practice, that can make all of your other things feel less anxiety-ridden and stress full.
Written by Jade Swayne for Mountain Yoga Sandy, 2020.