We all know that yoga – along with other forms of relaxation – can help with reducing stress levels. Stress is a normal body reaction to a sudden increase in demand when the brain perceives some kind of threat.

The reactions include sweating, increased heart beat, the release of sugar into the bloodstream, rush of blood to the surface and shut down of the digestive system.

All well and good, providing that we use the physical body in “flight or fight”.

Less so, if we are running late and stuck in a traffic jam, in trouble with the boss, anxious, or reading emails. When you encounter a perceived threat — a large dog barks at you during a walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

It is thought that long term stress can cause a host of health issues, including immune system breakdown, depression, heart disease and sleep problems. In today’s modern world, we need to find ways of dealing with the stress response.

Yoga, along with other measures, such as exercise and changes to lifestyle, can play a part in keeping us healthy.  We did a stretchy session this week, along with some strong asanas, followed by a breathing exercise such as alternate nostril breathing. Please find a reminder below.