Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Fascinating truth: the body knows how to heal itself. That’s right, your body is fully equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that generate new cells, resist infection, prevent aging, even fight against cancer. The catch – these self-repair mechanisms are activated when your body is in a relaxed state.
As we look at the challenges in the world today, it is clear that stress is related to human disease and suffering. It comes as no surprise that with the growing prevalence of stress in modern living, mental health problems have become one of the most debilitating conditions in Canada. Studies show that 1 out of 5 Canadians will experience mental illness at some point in their life. A steady yoga practice can serve as a buffer, neutralizing the detrimental effects stress has on the mind and body. And from a financial standpoint, dampening the total burden of treatments and lost productivity costs per year. To see how yoga can be used as a tool for stress management, it is important to understand how the body works. Your relaxation response is the threshold where spontaneous healing takes place. Similar to deep sleep, only in a relaxed state can homeostasis be restored. This restoration to baseline is essential for the body to carry out many of its processes, allowing it to replenish itself, renew itself and regenerate itself; in turn, fulfilling all of its nutritional and medicinal needs.
Balance is the body’s natural state and the relaxation response is an automatic process. However, in the face of all the stress and demands of daily life, many people experience continuous chronic stress. As a result, they have lost the ability to readily shift into relaxation mode, ultimately hindering the body’s ability to effectively heal or protect itself. This is where problems arise. A relaxed body does not make mistakes. Disease can only affect a vulnerable body.
How does yoga restore balance?
Yoga can be used as a tool to bring relaxation under conscious control by turning our attention inward to our breath, our asanas (poses) and our recovery or resting states. This is precisely what I focus on with my students. I teach the Dr. Bali Method, a form of therapeutic yoga that targets relaxation, where I guide my students to build an awareness of their bodies and feel where tension is stored. Then I work with them to release the tension, creating space for energy to flow. The technique is simple, yet so profound.
Yoga has a lot to offer, both on and off the mat and I am really enjoying my work planting this seed of awareness. I believe that everyone can benefit from learning how to relax. A stable yoga practice allows you to build upon your mobility and flexibility. It equips you with a strong body, an open heart and a grounded mind to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.
Most importantly, wellness brings us joy... so have fun with it!