When stressful events strike, powerful hormones are released into the blood stream. A toxic stew wears and tears our organic body and weakens the immune system. My first exposure to the biochemistry of stress came from The Stress of Life by Hans Selye. It was a fascinating read for me at the time. Modern inventions such as voice mail, cell phones, and computers were accelerating the pace of life. Cigarettes were being revealed as the killers they are. Heart disease, cancer and diabetes were on the rise. As a budding yoga teacher, I felt passionate about yoga's ability to reduce the strength of the fight of flight (or freeze) response and bolster one's resistance to stress. My experience showed me how a regular yoga practice toned the parasympathetic nervous system, the pathway to relaxation and digestion.
Practice and Detachment
B.K.S. Iyengar said these principles are two wings on the bird of yoga. We are encouraged to practice diligently, uninterruptedly, for an extended period and to let go of those habits that prevent us from doing so. On a practical level, when we step on our mat to practice, we become detached from distraction. We cultivate a muscular mental body and concentrate on the task at hand: our practice, which must be heartfelt rather than mechanical. With the tools of yoga we create a state of concentration on the physical body and the breath.
What are the tools of yoga?
The more one studies the Self, the more one discovers the power of these hidden jewels. The most obvious tool is our vehicle, the body, our ride while on this planet. We use our muscles and bones to mold ourselves into iconic shapes called asanas, yoga poses. As the asana is held, the organic body is stretched, squeezed, flushed and rinsed in a unique manner. The breath is the second tool. The point is to engage the breath in a deliberate manner to energize the body, deliver prana, and rid oneself of impurities. While these first two aspects are more superficial, when we engage our consciousness, the third tool, the practice becomes more absorbing and we penetrate inward. We exist in a witnessing state and are at the threshold of Yoga's Stress Free Zone.
Moving from Learning to Understanding to Mastery
At Iyengar Yoga Source students learn to practice in this manner and as the weeks go by they become more proficient with the process. One can learn the process with simple poses which makes these teachings accessible to first year students. There are many other tools to utilize while practicing yoga. Come and practice with us and find your Stress Free Zone. It will make you feel whole, together and in harmony with your Self.