Integral Yoga brings a deep wisdom to our experience of stress and suffering. Through Yoga, we understand that stress begins in the mind with how we interpret events. For example, one person may see a difficult situation as a real threat, while another person sees that same activity as an exciting challenge to be met.
The more threatened we feel, the more our whole system responds with the “fight or flight” response. Many people experience stress from a relentless schedule—from one thing to the next, it never lets up. Then they relax by watching TV news or filling their lives with entertainment, which doesn’t allow their bodies and minds to calm down, and the nervous system to shift into rest and restore mode.
Integral Yoga combines mindful stretching, relaxation, deep breathing and meditation to quickly interrupt the cycle of overstimulation and restore physical and mental balance. If you do these practices regularly, even for a short time daily, it can create a deeply rooted sense of inner steadiness that enables you to withstand life’s frequent trials.
As you cultivate internal steadiness, you also develop the present moment awareness needed to make conscious choices when crises arise, instead of reacting compulsively in ways you later regret. Regular practice equips you with tools that help you keep your balance, reflect with clarity, and think creatively.
Since stress begins in the mind, Integral Yoga teaches constructive attitudes that counteract your negative thought patterns, help you sustain a clear positive mindset, and allow you to more effectively cope with poise and resilience.
All the branches of Yoga philosophy can be reframed into clear, simple principles that provide resources in stressful moments. Some of my favorite examples are:
- Do your best, leave the rest.
- I find my balance between work goals and my own well-being.
- I do all actions for the joy of doing. I’m not depending on the results. I’m finding the fun in this moment.
Studies have shown that the most effective form of stress reduction combines both physical and mental interventions to reduce stress in the body and the mind. That is the genius of the Integral Yoga approach. You can take Yoga off the mat with chair poses, centering, deep breathing, and positive yogic attitudes.
So next time you feel stress, pause, stretch, and center with a little Yoga. You’ll feel the difference.
Swamis Ramananda and Vidyananda will be training Yoga teachers to spread the joy of Integral Yoga Stress Management at the Stress Management Teacher Training on July 11-22 in Yogaville, VA.