Bikram Yoga and Stress
Bend, Stretch & Destress
The little things in life can really add up: work deadlines are looming, the tube is packed, you’re running late, the traffic is at a standstill, and, before we know it, we are STRESSED!
So, where can you release, let go and reboot?
You wouldn’t often associate sweating for 90 minutes in a room heated to 40C with relaxation, but we are here to tell you Bikram Yoga is a wonderful stress buster!
Why? Well we’re glad you asked…
Bikram Yoga is often referred to as a moving mediation. The concentration demanded by the challenging environment and postures push us into the present moment. Being in the present moment allows us a hiatus from the constant buzz of the thoughts in our mind, helping us find focus and calm. Instead of thinking of the past or anticipating the future, we live moment to moment and allow ourselves the space to flourish. A lot of the day-to-day stress we carry is accumulated and no longer relevant to what is happening in the here and now. During class we are learning how to let that go, so that, after class, we feel rejuvenated and balanced.
An effective way into a meditation practice is through focusing on the breath. It is a primary tool to help us cope in stressful situations. During most of the class, we breathe in and out through the nose. This helps us develop a slow, steady flow of breath. Even as we raise our heart-rate, this flow continues, so we develop better lung capacity and a continuous sense of calm, underlying all the hard work!
We practise two breathing exercises, in Bikram Yoga:
Pranayama to start the class and Kapalbhati to finish class.
Pranayama breathing: ‘Deep breathing encourages full oxygen exchange – that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilise blood pressure.’ – The Harvard Medical School.
The final breathing, Kapalbhati, is designed to expel all the waste products in our lungs, whilst massaging the internal organs, strengthening abdominal muscles and aiding the digestive system.
Bikram Yoga is the perfect balance of action and rest. The sequence of movements
constrict and release each area, to move oxygenated blood around your body. We often hold stress in our muscles, so the stretches help release muscle tension. Every part of your body is worked during the 90 minutes of class, so, wherever you hold your tension, it will be reached!
Stress.org mention that regular exercise like Bikram Yoga, not only ‘keeps the heart healthy and gets oxygen into the system, but it helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals, endorphins, which help us cope with stress better.’
‘These are often referred to as the happy hormones. Any form of physical activity leads to the release of these feel good neurotransmitters. The increase in endorphins in your body leads to a feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite, and an enhancement of immune response. This helps combat the negative effects of stress.
Whether you are building muscle or stamina (both in Bikram Yoga), all types of exercise relax tense muscles and tissue.’ (Stress.org)
Whilst you sweat and increase your circulation during class, your lymphatic system and blood stream will be flushed of toxins.
In the words of our very own NHS: ‘Step right up! It’s the miracle cure we’ve all been waiting for. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, by up to 50%. It can lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. Its name? Exercise.’People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.’If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented.’ says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.
We may not be able to give you a weeks holiday in Mauritius, but we can give you 90 minutes of life-enhancing yoga to assist you to build the tools, so that everyday is as stress free as a holiday!