If there is one thing we have learned over the past decade, it is that the opposite of work, should not be sedentarism. Relaxation, the ultimate goal in our battle against stress, requires work, but of a different kind. Imagine performing your favorite relaxing asana atop a paddle board, or meditating while floating on the Mediterranean sea. True tranquility takes effort, yet when it is pleasurable, it seems effortless; this is the essential ingredient of lasting calm.
How Yoga Combats Stress
Study after study has shown that Yoga has a unique ability to significantly lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone, when present at high levels, causes everything from anxiety to depression and is also closely linked to cancer, accelerated ageing inflammation, heart disease, obesity, and Type II diabetes. One recent study, published in Frontiers in Immunology (June, 2017), thas discovered that mind-body interventions such as meditation, Yoga, and Tai Chi don’t just relax us; they actually reverse specific reactions in our DNA which cause ill health and depression.
Yoga Can Undo Past Wrongs
The above findings are fascinating because if in the past, it was known that Yoga could help us battle present stress, we now know that it can even ameliorate the ill effects of our ‘fight or flight’ response being activated for too long. As noted by study author, Ivana Buric, “”Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like Yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.”
How Can We Enhance Yoga’s Relaxing Effects?
When you’re out at sea, the sound of the water, the salty smell of the air and the feeling of floating will do its magic; if you practice Yoga at home or in your hotel afterwards, you can increase your ability to focus by using tools like essential oils (diffused through the room), and beautiful candles, whose flame make a great point of focus. Remember to use natural rather than paraffin candles, since the latter releases toxic particles into the air. A great choice are soy candles, which are 100% free of harmful substances, and are made with beautiful fragrances such as oakmoss, pine, and amber. Use natural elements to bring you closer to the greater life force that flows through all of us and use CD recordings of the sea or natural settings to intensify relaxation.
What is Yoga’s Secret Ingredient?
Researchers believe that they have cornered the secret that makes Yoga, Tai Chi and meditation so successful: all three activities help us achieve the often elusive state of mindfulness, also known as ‘being in the present moment’. Yoga, for instance, truly challenges us to perform asanas with perfect technique, while practicing controlled breathing and sometimes, incorporating meditation into our routine (or using it to relax afterwards). When we are mindful, we obtain distance from worries about the future or guilt about the past, and focus on achieving a state of peaceful bliss. Thus, our heart and breathing rate reduce, and our senses open to the beauty that surrounds us.
Yoga does more than calm our present mood; it has powerful effects on our DNA, correcting some of the damage done by chronic stress. The best way to enjoy its stress busting effects, is undoubtedly while floating on your personal paddle board. At home, seek tranquility through music, meditation, aromatherapy and candles, but always try to surround yourself with natural materials, to remind yourself of the vastness of the life force that runs through the Planet.
Author: Sally Writes / Photo: André Oosterhuis – SUP YogaPilates