It is a widely acknowledged fact that stress is a part of life. Many years ago, my dog exploring the yard of a friend wanderer over the tarp covering the pool. Somehow in one leap she found herself in the middle of the blue plastic tarp and started sinking. Instantly we grabbed the tarp and pulled the dog back to safety. Feeling solid ground under her feet my dog started running laps around the pool stopping here and there to shake her whole body from nose to tail. This is an instinctual behavior found in the wild to shake off the effects of the stress and free the body to come back to its natural state. This is about survival, a constantly contracted in fear gazelle would not last long in the savanna. In our highly technological culture perhaps one goes to the gym in order to shake of the stress.
It is only in the last 50 years or so that stress has been studied in relationship to illness, from the common cold to autoimmune disorders. Whether the origin of stress is physical trauma or psychological distress, stress initiates a cascade of changes in our body chemistry, these changes part of our fight or flight : as the cortisol levels increase in bodies, the heart pumps faster, the breathing accelerates and the blood sugar rises. These mechanisms are meant to be temporary, signaling us to seek safety. If the alarm goes on relentlessly our immune system gets compromised as well as our capacity to experience contentment and joy.
In his article, Deepak Chopra reminds us that stress is an internal response that we can learn to control. and that meditation can actually reverse the effects of stress. The key is creating a new self-care habit that foster inner peace and present moment awareness. (read more).
Recent studies reveal that meditation and yoga help lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system.
Yoga also adds the benefits of conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulating the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body, and bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function.