We all know that it’s incredibly difficult to eliminate stress from our lives—but we can certainly protect ourselves from its devastating effects.
Stress can be activated through the most trivial matters in life. It could be as simple as what to cook for dinner for family, what to wear to an event, even deciding on what alternate transport to take if the MRT is down. Some stresses are related to experiencing pain in different parts of our body and the frustration of not being able to make the pain go away.
Our body sends us little signals (think of them as gentle biological taps on the shoulder) letting us know that something is amiss and alerts us to deeper imbalances. Taking time to become aware and to relieve our body’s signals is a better option than popping pills and hoping that the pain will go away. This requires a deep level of body awareness that, like any skill, takes time and practice to perfect.
Instead of getting worked up over how you can make the pain go away, there is a way to counter such stress – keeping physically fit. A high fitness level increases the body’s threshold for physical stress and strain, which makes the difference in managing pain, recovery and rehabilitation.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines a series of focused modalities in the form of physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Yoga helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure and decrease your heart rate. Best of all, almost anyone can do it!
All one needs to do is to be centered – silence the wandering mind and be present at the mat, leaving any matters and stresses aside to focus on your breathing. Long full inhalations and exhalations reduce the number of breaths per minute and therefore one’s heart rate. With your eyes closed, your breathing brings you into a calm state of mind, into a realm of focus, where the decreasing number of thoughts lessen the distractions; these may even disappear, leaving the mind devoid of all that is mundane.
As you continue to bring awareness of your breathing when executing yoga poses, you will inherently experience become present within your own being and the movements of your body, feeling the sensation of how every motion brings sensory feedback, be that relief or strength or dull aches or tightness or flexibility to your muscles, joints and inter-connective tissues. With this awareness, you will soon discover that you are practising yoga by being present in each moment without carrying the stress you had before coming to the mat.
You just may surprise yourself – that with a clearer mind and better physical conditioning, you will be able to control both your physical and metal stresses as well as manage or reduce the pain that may cause you inconvenience, discomfort and hinderance. Simply put, it’s pain management without needing to stress over it.
“Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness”
(Sutra 1:14 as translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda). Aptly applied when you are patient your mind is more settled and calm – which will help you do what ever it is you are doing with more ease.