Overcoming Stress with Yoga & Meditation

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Overcoming Stress with Yoga & Meditation

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

William James

Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. In fact, in traditional yoga, the asanas are the journey of the body that allows us to meditate with ease and comfort. The ultimate goal is being able to find stillness and peace, a place where overcoming stress happens seemlessly. Yet all too often, yoga is seen, as a means to burning calories, an exercise workout and to sweat. In truth, it may well be all of those things, depending on your desires. Yet when we follow a path of ancient yoga practices, then we can tune into inner peace for our mind and body.

So let’s get to the heart of the matter. Can yoga and meditation cure our stress? Yes indeed they can. When we commit to a regular practice of yoga, listening to the voice of our bodies, we remove ourselves temporarily from the mayhem of daily life. These days our lifestyles scream out stress to us at every junction. Whether it’s our competitive or complex jobs, social interactions and social media, or just the way our brains have been wired over the last twenty years. Stress seems to be an inbuilt part of our DNA these days. That said it is not a condition. It is a choice. That might sound controversial although having been through clinical depressions in the 1990’s I know a little about stress, how it is triggered and how we can overcome it.

Overcoming stress – some how to’s

  • Overcoming stress is about our ability to choose and eliminate particular thoughts, become aware of and change certain behaviour patterns and understand how it is us in charge of our stress levels. We have full control of our mind and its contents and once we wake up to this notion, then we feel empowered beyond belief. I’ll talk more about that soon.

We of course, want to blame others for the effects of how we feel. That blame however is short-sighted and certainly not going to cure our stress. We need to actively take responsibility for our stress triggers and, with a determined spirit take charge of our out of control thoughts. Like a horse wildly cantering with a cart behind us, until we take back the reins we will never be master of our destiny. For now though, if this feels just too hard, then overcoming stress can be achieved with two other strategies; Yoga and Meditation. Here’s how.

  • Yoga allows us to take time out away from our chaotic and busy lives, be with the mind and body and be given the space to tune into our inner world. It is in this place that stillness exists as we surrender to our yoga practice.

Being on the mat encourages us to turn off the relentless mind and listen instead to our body as we move to its rhythm. Every thought is then released like a ballon. As we strike a pose, just like Madonna, we remain still, hold the asana and tune into the thoughts that arise. The simple awareness of what we are thinking about allows us to take back control. Plus, of course, the simple engagement in this practice, gives our endorphins a chance to flow. We are giving time to ourselves and our bodies and this is a direct switch off from the activities that stress us. With daily home practice, even outside of an organised class, we can give ourselves permission to move, hold and strengthen.

overcoming stress through yoga
  • When we invest in meditation, we give ourselves permission to still our monkey mind and interrupt the stress patterns that we have allowed to form.

Just for 10 minutes, 20 or longer, time invested in coming back to the wonder of emptiness with a still yet alert mind, is an important signal to our bodies that we are back in charge. Whether we choose to sit comfortably on our sofa, the floor or even lie down in bed (although not a great way to keep alert) signalling to our brains that we are taking a rest, is important. We begin to focus our attention on our breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Just noticing that innate action separates us from our stressful thoughts. The act of sitting separates us from our stressful thoughts.

  • Focusing on a visual image that we play out like a movie brings a welcome break from the nightmare scenarios that cloud our sleep.

A smile appears on our face as we paint this image with colour, vibrance and positivity. Our breath slows, our heart rate lowers, our cortisol reduces. Now, overcoming stress becomes a very real attainment. With daily practise, we can rebuild our relaxation muscles and create inner harmony. Just in 10 minutes per day.

If you would like to know more about how meditation particularly can help reduce your stress and return your mind back to an equilibrium, check out this Youtube Video I created. Alternatively, if you are feeling like more support is needed, then get in touch with me in my life coaching capacity and we can begin your path to freedom from this moment in time.


Published: January 12, 2024


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If you are intrigued about yoga and want to know more, connect with Karen on her social media channels.