Is yoga really the same as stress reduction? Well, perhaps not according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, but according to popular understanding it is. Doctors recommend yoga for helping relieve tension in patients. The general public read articles in the newspaper health section every week about the calming influence of yoga, then go out and sign up for 10-week courses. Research resources go toward studies to prove the positive effects of yoga relaxation on the body’s systems.
Not everyone wants less stress in their lives. Some thrive on it. They worry less about burning out than “rusting out”. Stress is part of our lives, and we recognise many advantages to living in the accelerated, intense pace of the early 21st century. It’s how we’ve created great technological achievements, vibrant cities, and cultural accomplishments. We have a mindset that strives constantly for the state-of-the-art.
Competitive economies mean that we can choose from myriad products and services, though sometimes we’re “spoiled for choice”, overwhelmed. Even in an economic downturn, we are often looking out for the next opportunity – a tribute to imagination and persistence.
So, why then, do so many people, perhaps myself included, want to “jump ship”?
Like the American transcendentalist H. D. Thoreau, who secluded himself at Walden Pond, many people want to move to the country, decrease their work hours, stop work altogether, or just rediscover the simple things in life.
Thoreau exhorted his 19th century contemporaries to: “Simply, simplify…Our live is frittered away by detail”.
I believe yoga steers us toward being more natural and to long for a simpler style of life, and this is one reason for the tremendous increase in its popularity now. Not all the progress we’ve made supports our everyday needs and all the levels that a human being exists on.
It’s good to give yourself enough time and space to reflect on some questions. If you have a weekend off or a holiday these questions may arise: “Why am I doing this?” “Why have I set up my life this way?” Or, even, “Why am I bothering to do this?”
Over the next few posts, I’ll look at six areas that are associated with yoga and overlap with everyday activities and will help immeasurably with stress reduction.