Negative and prolonged effects of stress and anxiety can be associated with age-related disorders and diseases, ultimately proving detrimental to health and longevity. During aging, past injuries and trauma can affect how people move, how people think and how people breathe.
The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ. If there is an inadequate oxygen supply, people may feel a mental and physical sense of sluggishness. This is the “couch potato effect.” It turns out that inefficient exchanges of oxygen/carbon dioxide (the way people breathe in and breathe out) can shorten longevity by contributing to the risk of heart disease and other diseases that shorten life span.
The relaxation response is the opposite of compounding resistance in the body. It is when the muscles have a chance to relax. Heart rate and blood pressure have a chance to normalize. The relaxation response allows nerves to become calmer, anxiety responses to decrease, immunity to be heightened and healing to be enhanced. Research shows that the way people breathe can be the first step in starting the relaxation response in the body.
For those who want to utilize yoga to enhance the immune system and better manage pain, stress and anxiety, breathing is key and it's not something people need to learn how to do. You are already breathing. There is no need to exaggerate the way breathing takes place or even modify breathing patterns.
There is also no need to go into any yoga postures to reap the benefits. Yoga therapy breathing techniques are methods for increasing the efficiency of the way people naturally breathe.
You can begin right now by taking a moment to be conscious of your own breathing. It is there for you, always available, free and consistent. You might repeat this “breath visit” several times. It is completely normal to take a few moments before you can notice your own breathing patterns. After several minutes, you might notice your breathing slow a bit, become more regular, more efficient, steadier. These are indications that the relaxation response is becoming activated. You might notice a release of tension in your hands, your shoulders, your low back, maybe even a momentary shift from how you usually respond to the pressures of anxiety and stress.
Yoga has been shown to be an excellent self-management tool for regulating the way people respond to the demands of life. Yoga can be a part of one’s self-care toolbox, a personal on-demand way to relax.
No matter one’s age, the discovery of freedom from stress can be a launching pad for new strength and vigor. Self-management of anxiety can be a way to calm the agitation experienced in the past and a way to calm any current turbulence in life. Yoga can help access personal reservoirs of vitality and strength. Engaging a personal sense of stillness can revitalize and illuminate the ageless tapestry of grace and maturity.
In closing, here are some yoga therapy tips to make sure your experiences are safe, enjoyable and beneficial:
• Check with your healthcare team to learn more about the benefits of yoga therapy for health and well-being.
• All yoga therapy techniques should be modified so that there is no pain or discomfort at any time.
• Contact a certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT) in your area.
Veronica Zador is a certified yoga therapist and registered yoga teacher. She established and directs International Institute of Yoga Therapy, Michigan’s first fully accredited yoga therapy program.