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Yoga Helps Reduce Elevated Stress Levels

Yoga Helps Reduce Elevated Stress Levels

Stress is not necessarily something we need to avoid. In fact, many go out of their way to experience it. From roller coaster rides to scary movies, people love to be shocked and awed. Sometimes stress can be good. Perhaps the reason why some seek it is because the boring din of day-to-day life is just not enough to satisfy. But, according to Robert Sapolsky, a leading expert on stress, living in a constant state of stress is deadly.

We certainly wouldn’t want to maintain the rush we feel after free-falling on a speeding carnival ride, nor are we interested in living in a constant state of heart-thumping fear. Unfortunately for some, and for many different reasons, the stress response is slow to dissipate. Lingering stress is what leads to illness and disease.

To make matters worse, the fight or flight response, a function of the body that assists us when we are in danger, can kick in via our own imagination. We may not actually be in real danger, yet the response is still the same. Think back to when you watched a horror movie. Did your fight or flight response kick in as if you were the one being chased by the boogieman?

Our nervous system is a complex structure. While the sympathetic nervous system is on our side to give us a burst of energy in response to danger, a thrill, or some from of excitement, the parasympathetic nervous system comes to the rescue to bring us back to a state of normalcy. In people who suffer from stress-related diseases, there is a problem with the functioning and efficiency of the parasympathetic nervous system; it either doesn’t act properly or has been suppressed by a constant need for stimulation. In any case, the stress response continues to be elevated, and an elevated stress response over extended periods of time is very unhealthy.

Research suggests that yoga has a profound effect on the function and efficiency of the parasympathetic nervous system. People who practice yoga have a higher rate of calming down after experiencing stress than people who do not practice. This doesn’t mean that yogis don’t get excited, in fact, yogis experience the same rush of adrenaline as anyone else, but those who embark on a regular yoga practice are better at returning to a state of calm in a timely manner.

Even if you never face extreme dangers, the stress response can be triggered by a variety of different events, including your own irrational thoughts. The key is to let it go as soon as you can, and practicing yoga can help.

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By Jill Lawson for

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4:38AM PST on Nov 12, 2014

Thank you!

2:35PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

because yoga is awesome. that's why :)

7:55PM PDT on Oct 5, 2012

Good article. I believe yoga helps with stress, but I also think meditation helps. Bottom line different strokes for different folks. For me, communication, reading, spending time with my puppy, or even physical exercise helps me with stress.

6:05AM PDT on Oct 3, 2012


6:01AM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

Agree!! Yoga has helped me cope with a stressful situation at work recently. It's doing my head in but yoga helps keep me balanced both on and off the mat :-)

3:26AM PDT on Sep 29, 2012

I think it's sport for the soul.thank you .

10:06PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Yoga is such a wonderful practice!

9:02PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Sounds good to me.

8:13PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012


6:58PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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I hate to break it to the "owner" but this cat has adopted his friend.

Are we sure stuff grown commercially in the U. S. doesn't have the same problems?

Thank you Eric.


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