Yoga And Stress

You might think I’ve gone crazy for saying that I think yoga is in fact a controlled stress situation!  This idea might seem strange.  You may disagree that yoga and stress go hand in hand. Why would we purposely put ourselves under stress in order to alleviate it?  Well, yoga is great for training our awareness to notice our reaction to stressors.  The idea is that this builds resilience on the mat that we can then take into our daily lives off the mat. 

Resilience is defined as our capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and an appropriate theme for the current challenges facing us all during COVID-19.

Yoga can’t stop stressful things happening, that’s the unfortunate truth that must be accepted in order to move forward on your yoga journey.   You see,  stress isn’t actually a “thing”, stress is our reaction to a thing.  Reactions can be noticed and modified so this is good news and is exactly how yoga works its magic on the stress cycle. 

Yoga As A Training Ground For Managing Stress

Yoga trains us to notice our reaction to these “things”, for example:

  • When I stretch this muscle, how does it feel? Can I welcome all sensation just as it is?
  • When I breath consciously, what is that like?  Is my breath easy or not, why might that be?
  • When I sit in stillness at the end of the class, what thoughts & emotions come up? Is it challenging to be still when there is discomfort in the body or mind?

This is where the true learning happens when we start to be aware of our own self, our true nature.  There is no right or wrong only what we notice about our own experience in that moment. So as you can see, it truly is a controlled stress experience.  When you practice yoga, you have put yourself there voluntarily so well done, it takes some courage to do that. 

This blog was inspired by my own studies and meditation practice over the past few weeks where I realised the truth of the situation and just had to share it!  It’s great to have these little epiphanies every now and again where things suddenly become very clear amidst the noise and craziness.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or stories about how yoga has helped you manage your reaction to stressors.


About The Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers