Stress Tips from the Experts
Yoga links body and mind, but it's not merely breathing, stretching, reaching, working out, and relaxing. "It's about mastering attention, helping you access, transform, and heal your emotions", says Bija Bennett, author of Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind (Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 2002), and creator of YogaAway DVDs and programs at spas and resorts.
Bennett says there's a real misunderstanding about yoga.You don't have to get to a class or take an hour to run through a series of postures; it can be useful in whatever few minutes you can spare. "Just have the intention to create self-healing, self-knowledge, self-reflection. Become aware of your breath, the most powerful tool in yoga. How you use it can change things quickly, whether you feel irritated, anxious, depressed, have back discomfort, low energy, or are hurting inside or out."
When you're feeling stressed and pressed for time, first decide to do something about it. First, feel: What in your mind or body is causing unease? Pay attention, and with each breath, let your body become aware.
Concentrate on breathing deeply and rhythmically; this links your body and mind. If easing stress is your goal, hold longer at the exhale. If it's invigoration you're after, hold the inhale a beat longer.
Awareness of your breath and emotions can bring you clarity and integration. According to Bennett, "You can realize you are not responsible for emotions that arise but that you are responsible for staying in a mood."
Judith Lazarus is the author of Stress Relief & Relaxation Techniques and The Spa Sourcebook. She invites your comments at Judith Lazarus.