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Yoga exercises for lowering heart disease risk factors | Health

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Stress is a term frequently used in our modern lives to describe the overwhelming feelings many of us experience even though it is casually thrown around as though it’s a normal part of existence however, the reality is quite different where living in a constant state of stress can lead to various medical complications for the mind, body and psyche. The concept of stress was first introduced into the field of life science by Hans Selye and the term itself is derived from the Latin word “Stringere,” which means “to be drawn tight.”

Yoga exercises for lowering heart disease risk factors (Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash)
Yoga exercises for lowering heart disease risk factors (Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash)

The Current Problem Scenario

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar, Founder of Akshar Yoga Kendraa, shared, “Stress is a complex, dynamic process that involves the interaction between an individual and their life circumstances. In the age of social media and relentless competition for popularity, people are exposed to a wide range of stressors across various aspects of life. The pressure to conform to socially acceptable standards in personal relationships and at work often leads individuals to disconnect from their intuition. This disconnect, in turn, results in the body experiencing stress in inappropriate situations, as our internal compass is muted. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to increased blood sugar and blood pressure levels, as well as a decrease in libido. In a fight-or-flight situation, blood flow is directed primarily to the most critical muscles, while brain function is minimized. This can impair judgment and the ability to make sound decisions, creating a loop of increased stress and anxiety that can be challenging to break free from without conscious awareness.”

Solution through Yoga and Its Benefits

The Yoga expert explained, “Two key parts of the brain, emotional and cognitive functions, play a crucial role in stress responses. During a stressful episode, the emotional brain, through the sympathetic nervous system, triggers a stress response, leading to the release of adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. The logical brain continually strives to deactivate this stress response and restrain the emotional brain. When the stress response is turned off, the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for relaxation, is activated. Strengthening the logical brain is closely tied to achieving a relaxed state.”

Talking about Yoga asanas for stress reduction, he said, “Yoga actively engages the logical brain, providing it with a significant workout. After a Yoga asana practice, you often experience mental calmness because the logical brain has successfully subdued the emotional function. With consistent practice, new neural pathways are formed, allowing for greater control and redirection of thoughts. Pranayama, another aspect of Yoga, is highly effective in promoting effective breathing. Stress and tension can lead to rapid, shallow breathing, exacerbating anxiety. Yoga offers the opportunity to fully engage the diaphragm and utilize the entire lung capacity. Specific Pranayama techniques, such as Brahmari (humming bee breath), Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril), and Ujjayi (victorious) breath, are particularly useful for reducing stress. Left nostril breathing can also have a calming effect.”

Suggesting meditation for holistic healing, he added, “Meditation is a powerful tool for slowing down and relaxing the mind. Any form of breath awareness can achieve similar results with consistent practice, helping individuals develop new habits that promote a more relaxed internal state.”

Dos and Don’ts

Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar concluded, “During yoga practice, emotional energy is effectively released, even if you’re not consciously aware of it. Postures that focus on releasing tension in the hips and shoulders, common areas where emotional tension is stored, can be particularly effective in this regard. In conclusion, stress is a prevalent issue in our fast-paced, competitive world. However, it’s essential to recognize that stress doesn’t have to be a constant companion. Yoga offers a holistic approach to reducing stress, engaging both the emotional and logical brain functions, promoting effective breathing, and fostering a relaxed internal state. By incorporating Yoga into your daily routine, you can take significant steps toward reducing stress and its associated health risks, ultimately improving your overall well-being.”

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