Stress and Modern Living
Stress is a daily experience for many people, and is commonly accepted as a normal function of modern living. However, stress is one of the greatest contributors to inflammation in the body.
Broadly speaking, inflammation is your body’s immune system’s response to stimulus and happens when the immune system fights against something which may turn out to be harmful.
This bodily response can be harmful when the immune system is fighting its own cells. Inflammatory mediators released in the process cause blood vessels to expand, hormones released can irritate nerves, and our blood vessels become more permeable.
Yoga, Deep Breathing, and Our Health
Performing a yoga practice with regular deep breathing exercises as a part of your daily life can help combat the regularity of stress and related inflammation in our bodies. Yoga offers the benefits of stretching, muscle-building, and breathing – offering the most comprehensive health benefits when compared to other forms of exercise. A 2012 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that yoga-based lifestyle intervention can reduce the markers of stress and inflammation in as few as ten days for patients with chronic diseases.
Yoga also engages us in a deep breathing practice. Deep breathing is one of the fastest and most effective ways to switch our nervous system from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic response. When our nervous system reacts with a sympathetic response, we are in ‘fight or flight’ mode and our bodies will tense up, shutting down functions not critical to our survival.
In contrast, our parasympathetic nervous system response is the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response. Our body is here restored to a state of calmness, with decreased heart rate, relaxed muscles, and increased stomach movement and secretions.
With a regular practice of yoga mixed into our weekly schedule, we are more likely to incorporate deep breathing exercises. This allows us to feel mentally calm and balanced more regularly, reduce inflammation, as well as better absorb the nutrients in our food. In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, researchers found that 12 weeks of yoga also slowed cellular aging.
Where to Begin
Now that you know the benefits of a regular yoga practice, how can you get started?
If you are looking for a supportive community to get your yoga practice started, visit our trusted yoga provider, Moksha Yoga Waterloo. They have a great one-month unlimited trial period available for $40 - click the link below to redeem.
You can also mix in-person classes with online yoga classes. YouTube and GaiaTV have yoga classes which you can try out.
Incorporate the power of deep breath into your life, even if you do not always have time for a regular yoga practice. I offer great resources for this in my monthly newsletter, including Headspace, Muse, or just 10 Deep Belly Breaths each morning.