Yoga And Ayurveda For Stress Management

The word "Yoga" is derived from the root Yujir which means to join, or yoke, or bind together. By the way Yoga also means to concentrate.

Fundamentally, Yoga is a means of uniting or a technique of self -discipline: to unite the body to the mind and together merge with the Self (soul). It can also be considered the union between the individual self and the transcendental Self.

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For thousands of years, Yoga has been practiced in India and is now spread all over the world, particularly to the West. Traditionally used by spiritual seekers as a means of self-development through mind-body purification, Yoga is a preventive as well as curative system of the body, mind, and spirit.

Ayurveda, on the other hand, means knowledge of life or knowledge of longevity. It is an all-inclusive routine of traditional health care and stresses upon the relationship among body, mind, and spirit. This is done in balance with the internal and external environment. To this extent, Ayurveda aim at restoring one's innate harmony.

Yoga is spiritual side of Ayurveda, and Ayurveda is the healing tradition of from which it emerged. Most people in the west associate Yoga with Hatha Yoga that emphasizes the practice of physical postures called (asanas). This, by and large, involves standing, forward, backward poses, and lateral bends, spinal twists, and inverted poses. Physical poses (asanas) are complimentary and separate from breathing exercises (pranayama) which, practiced together are a more comprehensive form of Yoga.

Yoga and Ayurveda are so closely interrelated that it is tough to even conceive of one without knowing the other. Making use of the wisdom of Ayurveda, a practitioner can choose asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing practices) and mantras (sacred chants) specific to his or her unique constitution in order to maintain health. The Ayurvedic physician prescribes specific practices to prevent illness and assist the healing process (adapted from naturalhealers.com).

Yoga and Ayurveda work along the same principles as Stress Management, taking into account the physical and psychological. Negative aspects of stress develop as a result of the imbalance between demand and our body-mind ability to cope with it. Emotional stress has such detrimental effects on our metabolism, it can lead to psychosomatic disorders.

Further, it is now accepted by medical science that physical stress in different forms often sets-off a string of psychological disturbances like anxiety, depression or even panic attacks.

The way Yoga and Ayurveda operate, however, is basically so different from modern medicine that it calls for quite an adjustment of the western mind. For instance, we are all aware of the importance of the immune system in Stress Management. The immune system protects our metabolism against attacks from bacteria, viruses and cancer cells that continuously try to attack and prey on our system. Further, high levels of stress are a factor that lowers the strength of the immune system. This leaves us vulnerable to physical, emotional and psychological pathology.

A multifaceted system that includes elements of herbal medicine, diet modification, oil therapies, massage, Yoga, and Ayurveda provide a holistic and integrated approach to the Stress Management. This is done both through lifestyle modification and a system of therapies, aimed at restoring physical, mental and spiritual harmony. The practice of Ayurveda alone or in combination with certain Yogic therapies has been noted in to be extremely valuable in treating certain ailments and conditions like hypertension, bronchial asthma, anxiety, and depression, neurosis, gastrointestinal disorders, headache, and insomnia, all stress related.

How exactly the techniques of Yoga and Ayurveda work in such therapeutic contexts is still mysterious. But, both believe that the autonomic nervous system balance improves through certain practices. This results in a relatively hypo-metabolic state that decreases the energy demands on the body. Above all, the holistic approach that allows for all the aspects of human existence (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) has at its core the concepts of balance and interconnectedness.

Like other Stress Management practices, Yoga and Ayurveda educate people to take care of their own welfare and take charge of their health by developing personal awareness. The use of herbs, massage, physical postures, relaxation and meditation are intrinsic parts of this process in Yoga and Ayurveda.

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