How Yoga can help YOU reconnect with your body and mind, and deal with chronic stress & muscle tension? – What science has to say.
By Emilie, Manager & Yoga teacher at Younity studio – YOU Massage
Passionate about physical exercise since my youth, I noticed how increasingly lighter and brighter I felt after each Yoga class when I started as a student, in a deeper way that any other physical practice has done for me before. Recently the wonderful book “The body keeps the score” by Dr Van Der Kolk fed me with a lot of scientist expertise and documentation about how our emotional trauma is stored into our autonomic nervous system – fight or flight response – and therefore in our body. It provides some interesting pieces of information regarding the benefits of Yoga on such matter:
When people are chronically angry or scared, constant muscle tension ultimately leads to spasms, back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain (let’s add IBS, chronic fatigue, etc). They may visit multiple specialists, undergo expensive diagnosis tests, and be prescribed multiple medication, some of which may provide temporary relief but all of which fail to address the underlying issues.
`Scientific methods has confirmed that changing the way one breathes can improve problem with anger, depression, and anxiety and that yoga can positively affect such wide-ranging medical problems as high blood pressure, elevated stress hormone secretion, asthma, and low-back pain.
In their 2014 studies, Yoga turned out to be a terrific way to regain relationship with the interior world with a caring, loving, sensual relationship to the self. If you are not aware of what your body needs, you can’t take care of it. If you can’t feel hunger, you can’t nourish yourself. If you mistake anxiety for hunger, you may eat too much. And if you can’t feel when you are satiated, you’ll keep eating. This is why cultivating sensory awareness is such a critical aspect of trauma recovery. Most traditional therapies downplay or ignore the moment-to-moment shifts in our inner sensory world.
In yoga you focus your attention on your breathing and your sensations on your moment to moment. You begin to notice the connection between your emotions and your body – perhaps how anxiety about doing a pose throw you actually off balance. You begin to experiment with changing the way you feel. Will taking a deep breath relieve that tension in your shoulder? Will focusing on your exhalations produce a sense of calm?
Simply noticing what you feel fosters emotional regulation, and it helps you to stop trying to ignore what is going on inside you. As I often tell my students, the two most important phrases in therapy, as in Yoga, are “Notice that” and “What happens next?” Once you start approaching your body with curiosity rather than with fear, everything shifts.
In Yoga you learn that sensations rise to a peak and then fall. In a challenging position, you may first feel a sense of defeat or resistance, anticipating that you won’t be able to tolerate the feelings brought up by this particular position. A good yoga teacher will encourage you to just notice any tension while timing what you feel with the flow of your breath: “We’ll be holding this position for ten breaths.” This helps you anticipate the end of discomfort and strengthens your capacity to deal with physical and emotional distress. Awareness that all experience is transitory changes your perspective on yourself.”
Yoga is much more than a simple physical exercise, it can help you improve your mind deeply and sustainably, find love and peaceful confidence within yourself. It has been a game changer for myself and so many others. Let it become your game changer. Try out one of our Yoga classes in Southampton in our Younity – look for Yoga at Younity on Google 🙂
– Dr Van Der Kolk – The body keeps the score, Chapter Learning to inhabit your body: Yoga, P318-329, 2014, Penguin Psychology