Due to the 360 training philosophy, this article may come as a surprise to a lot of you, but I’m a avid follower of the benefits of yoga, have applied techniques into our style of training and would love to personally incorporate it into my life a lot more for the sake of relaxation and active recovery.

No, I’m not going to super-set a ‘downward dog’ with a ‘snatch’, nor am I going to build a Yoga shrine in India but I see a massive benefit for the use of Yoga to deal with the stress of modern day life!

So how can Yoga assist in stress management?

Yoga is the oldest system of personal development in the world encompassing the entire body. By definition, yoga is a means of joining. It is the union between a person’s own consciousness and the universal consciousness. Yoga combines breathing, meditation and exercise as a means to unify the mind and body.

Breath control is used to improve health, and the exercise is designed to control the glandular system. Once the mind is properly prepared by exercise and breath, it is ready for meditation. The achievement of a quiet mind is essential for freedom of stress and able body. Yoga is composed of five principles, and there are six branches. The principles are relaxation, exercise, breathing, nutrition and meditation. The six branches of Yoga, Hatha, Bhakti, Raja, Jnana, Karma and Tantra. For all purposes, these branches and principles should not be looked at as mutually exclusive as each has an important role in this entire process. This process is really quite simple. Consider your client, the stressed out office employee. With yoga, his first step is to become relaxed. Because stress is positively correlated to disease, relaxation must be the first step in restoring energy. Breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation/visualization are cornerstones to relaxation. What follows next are the Asanas or postures of yoga. These are designed to help balance the mind and body by multiple processes.

First, they increase blood flow. Second, the postures are designed to apply pressure on organs and glands, creating a massage effect. Finally, the breathing and visualization assist in energy direction. Furthermore, by assisting in and maintaining proper spinal range of motion, nerve supply to the body is optimized.

So let’s understand stress:

What are other ways we are stressing our bodies:

  1. Not being asleep by 10:00pm or not getting enough sleep. This upsets the body’s natural circadian rhythms and deprives the body of its time to replenish.
  2. Poor nutritional habits. Ignoring food intolerances and/or eating processed foods stresses the digestive (visceral) system.
  3. Poor communication skills/relationship issues. These are psychologically (limbic) damaging.
  4. Money issues. Again, psychologically stressful. The list goes on and on. The vastness of this issue is impossible to quantify. Don’t be alarmed, though.

Stress is not necessarily always a harmful thing. What IS harmful is when your body no longer has the resources to combat the stress.

Something to note: Visceral stress is that stress which concerns the internal organs. Visceral stress can be on the liver, the heart, the intestines, the lungs, etc., and can be highly dangerous. Since 70 percent of the immune system is located in the gut and 90 percent of disease originates in the colon, it is easy to see how an ill-performing digestive system will wreak havoc on our health.

What about alcohol: Alcohol impedes cognitive function and nervous system function. It can alter brain chemistry, and by compromising proper chemical levels in the brain, proper brain wave function decreases– which will then impair the overall cognitive ability to handle stress. Alcohol is toxic the liver (think: “intoxicated”). The visceral effects of alcohol then progress to the musculo-skeletal system. When the liver becomes toxic, it often reflexes to the right shoulder. One sign of liver toxicity is chronic shoulder pain. Alcohol also depletes vital nutrients and oh yeah, it is expensive!

In a beautiful city with mountains and beaches we are blessed with the ideal surroundings for practicing Yoga and escaping the stress of the corporate world.

I would highly recommend yoga to everyone, whether you are looking to manage stress, as part of an extended fitness regime or even for ‘me’ time. It is highly important to invest time in your health and for those wishing to learn or increase their knowledge we are fortunate enough to have a surplus of world class Yoga studios with qualified, passionate instructors at our disposal:

A new term to me ‘Eustress’ is briefly explained by Justin Swart:

“Eustress is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, defined as stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings i.e. Engaging in exercise, placing in the top 3 of a race, a job promotion and even love and marriage. Certain types of stress can have positive effects on the body (Eustress) when seen to enhance function while other types have converse negative effects (Distress), also seen as persistent stress that is not resolved through coping or adaptation. Both can be equally taxing on the body, and are cumulative in nature. Various individuals cope better with certain types of stress depending on a person’s way of adapting to change and varied stimuli. Yoga for example may be deemed as an activity that can lead to feelings of fulfillment, while enhancing the functioning of the mind and body. Perfect for aiding distressed corporates clear their minds and deal with the taxing demands of daily life as well as physiologically stimulating their body, to obtain cardio-respiratory and cardiac function benefits.”