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Yoga Therapy for Stress

Yoga Therapy is concerned with balance in the body and mind in order to improve both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Yoga Therapy considers how the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind, based on physiological evidence. It is perfectly suited to preventing stress-related illnesses or managing stress levels alongside major or chronic ill-health. Yoga Therapy uses a diagnostic model that considers what might be happening on a global level, even if the person is only expressing certain symptoms.


The major culprit Yoga Therapy is concerned with when it comes to stress is the release of the hormone cortisol and the cascading response of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). While important for survival, hyper-activation of this branch of the nervous system uses a lot of energy and quite often leaves the body depleted, suppressing our digestive, immune and reproductive systems. The role of Yoga Therapy here is to reduce activation of the SNS and increase the ability to restore dominant parasympathetic drive once the SNS has been activated. To do this effectively, we need to be ‘flexible’. I know what you might be thinking, “’I’m not flexible enough to do yoga!”. Well, luckily this flexibility has nothing to do with your hamstrings! Rather, I am talking about flexibility of the nervous system. Flexibility of the nervous system can be measured by ‘Heart Rate Variability’ (HRV) and greater HRV means we are more psychologically and physically flexible and reliant. It’s an important biomarker of health that decreases with age, due to poor mental health and lack of exercise.


Increasing HRV can be done effectively, by oneself over time and with continued practice and is free of dangers and cost! However, working with a Yoga Therapist initially will provide you with the necessary education and tools. These tools include: yoga asana (movement and postures), pranayama (breath exercises) and relaxation.


As a Yoga Therapist I will share with you my favourite tool for increasing HRV - ‘Coherent Breathing’ (CB). CB is breathing at a rate of 5 breaths a minute with an even inhale and exhale. The best way to train yourself is to practice along to a track that prompts your inhales and exhales. My favourite recommendation is the track ‘2 Bells’ by Coherence, available on Spotify.


To work with me 1-1 to understand how your body might be reacting to stress, manage your response to stress and/or help your body recover from chronic stress - get in touch at mariewilliamsyoga@gmail.com


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