Yogic Practices For Stress Management
An adolescent in different situations experiences a wide range
of emotions that could vary from positive to negative such as
happiness, satisfaction, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. They have
high expectations from themselves that may be further reinforced
by people and environment around them. There are many occasions
when they may get stressed or feel angry or frustrated. It is natural
for adolescents to experience both positive and negative emotions.
Simultaneously, it is necessary for everyone to be aware of her/his
feelings and emotions. It is also natural to express one's emotions.
But, it is also essential for all to know that there are both positive
and negative ways of expressing the emotions. It is pointed out that
negative emotions and their expression in negative way may be caused
by certain stresses experienced by the adolescents.
In today’s life, stress is becoming a major cause of many healthrelated
problems. It is a known fact that stress negatively affects health. In the
management of stress, lifestyle plays an important role. Lifestyle is
characterised by one's habits relating to eating, working,
sleeping and all those things that influence one's health and life. In
other words, lifestyle means one's food habits, recreation, thinking
and all her/his day-to-day activities. A healthy lifestyle reduces stress
and promotes one's health.
It is important to recognise that stress is something that can be
tackled, controlled and definitely decreased. Many times, we may not
necessarily be in control of the situations which causes the stress but
we can control our over-all response to any of such situations.
What is Stress?
Stress can be understood as the responses of the body which occur in
difficult situations. These situations are perceived by the person as a
threat to her/his physical or emotional well-being. This threat may be
real or imaginary.
The responses towards these situations occur at the physiological
level and the psychological level. At the physiological level, there
may be changes in heart rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, secretions
of hormones, etc. At the psychological level, there may be changes
in attention, concentration, memory and alertness and also in the
emotional state (like anger, fear, hate, sadness, etc.).
Stress generally occurs as a result of major events in life such as
tough competitions, getting low scores in an examination, recent breakup
in friendship, not getting a good job, a fight with others and so on.
There are several other factors which may cause stress in a person
like diseases, poor living conditions, poverty, problems in relationship,
challenges of adolescence, wrong habits, high aspirations, unrealistic
goals, death of close relative, tough competition, discrimination, fast
changing life and many others. However, sometimes it may also occur
due to minor issues such as not getting up early, not getting ready
on time, reaching school late, not getting the desired food, arguments
with a friend, not getting permission from parents for attending a late
night party and so on.
Intensity of stress varies from person to person and generally
depends on perception of the particular situation by that person. A
situation may be easy to handle for one person, while it may pose a
big challenge to another. For example, examination may cause stress
in one student, while it may not affect another student.
Stress may be beneficial as well as harmful. Stress which motivates
us to perform better and learn new skills is beneficial. For example,
getting admission in a new course, preparing for an examination or
getting promotion may cause stress but this stress is beneficial as it
finally contributes towards growth and development. Stress may be
harmful also. When stress is severe and chronic then it negatively
affects efficiency of a person. It may adversely affect our ability to feel,
think and act.
During severe stress, a person may become restless and worried.
She/he may not remember the things properly. Even small things
may make her/him angry. You also might have observed that when
you are in tension you become restless. You may not be able to focus
on your studies and small things may cause irritation in you.
Chronic and severe stress reduces our body’s ability to fight
diseases. It can lead to various psychosomatic diseases such as
peptic ulcer, migraine, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, etc.
It could even result in heart attack, brain stroke and death. Several
psychological disorders such as anxiety attacks and depression may
also result from chronic and severe stress. However, the fact is — we
cannot avoid stress. Therefore, management of stress is necessary
Yoga has been considered a panacea for stress. In this context, we
will discuss the role of yoga in developing a healthy lifestyle by which
stress can be managed. Yoga practices once become a way of life , can
play an important role in stress management.
Effect Of Stress On Human Body
Yoga as a Way of Life for Stress Management
You have learnt about asana, pranayama, kriya, mudra, bandha and
meditation in earlier class. However, yoga is not limited to the physical
postures, breathing techniques or meditation for a few minutes only
rather yoga is a way of life also. It propounds several principles
including asana, pranayama, kriya, mudra, bandha and meditation
which are relevant to healthy living. Yogic principles of healthy living
can be adopted by all, irrespective of age, gender, profession or place.
As a way of life, yoga gives direction about food, eating habits, thinking,
recreational means and conduct. Yogic way of life, if adopted in true
sense, empowers us to deal with stress and in promoting physical and
The components of yogic way of life are:
• Ahara (Food)
• Vihara (Relaxation)
• Achara (Conduct)
• Vichara (Thinking)
• Vyavahara (Behaviour or actions)
For stress management, we should perform those practices which can
relax our body and mind. The practices which can strengthen the
systems especially the autonomic nervous system with the dominance
of para-sympathetic system of body are also beneficial for managing
stress. Here, some asanas, pranayamas, kriya and relaxing practices
which are helpful in stress management are explained in this chapter.
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