Christmas stress relief

Stress is fast becoming an epidemic in modern society, and the main cause of increasing health issues. Stress compromises our immune systems and makes it harder to fight diseases. The immune system is already under constant attack from external toxins that bombard our system from the air we breathe; the water we drink; the processed foods we eat; the personal care and household products we use; and the computers and phones we spend most of our waking hour in front of.

The two nervous systems – the sympathetic and parasympathetic – both have their purpose. The sympathetic nervous system causes the fight or flight response. It raises our blood pressure and heart rate; our muscles tense ready for action; the digestive, reproductive and organ system function decrease to increase the blood flow in our limbs. The problem comes when stress puts us in this heightened state of alert all the time the system starts to break down.

The parasympathetic nervous system causes a relaxation response in the body and has a very calming effect on the system. Blood pressure and heart rate decrease; circulation  increases to the digestive, reproductive and organ systems and function returns. The mind calms and relieves stress, anxiety and muscle tension.

One of the main reason which brings people to yoga is stress. Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system through breath awareness; slow mindful movement and repetitive flows which allows the mind to quieten.

Backbends are energising – they stimulate the digestive system; stretch and expand the lungs and help relieve chronic pain. The digestive system (enteric nervous system) produces 95% of the serotonin (the happy hormone) of the body. Backends compress and stretch the digestive system – stimulating serotonin production and helping to counteract symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Click this link to get a full list of backbends.

Forward bends are very grounding and relaxing – stimulating the digestive system to boost the immune system; remove toxins from the body and compressing the organs in the trunk of the body which bring new blood flow and oxygen. They also relieve symptoms of sinusitis, insomnia, headaches, anxiety and stress. Click this link to get a full list of forward bends.

Twists are warming and energising – stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and relieving stress and tension. They also relieve constipation which helps the body stay toxin free. A good judge of a toxin free system is at least one ‘elimination’ a day! Click this link to get a full list of twists.

Click on the sequence above and find some quiet time for yourself over the Christmas period. Take a few extra breaths in your backbends, forward bends & twists. Mix it up with the Immune System Boost sequence to keep you fighting fit through the winter months.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru