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What is stress?

"Stress" (a term coined by Hans Seyle) is defined as non specific response of the body and mind to any demand, and adaptation to challenge. We all know what it feels like and how it inhibits our happiness and health.

Stress is one of the biggest threats to our wellbeing at work and in the home. It may be sue to the constant hassles of daily living and work in the form of ongoing interpersonal difficulties, persistent threat to security, financial deprivation, and other life events.


Stress may play a part in many illnesses. (Eustress, dystress) have acted as triggering effect on the illness. This has precipitated the illness at an early age, a concept known as "brought forward time". The "crisis theory" by Lindermann and Sating which states that stress produces disequilibrium (crisis) resulting to either adaptive changes or maladaptive changes (emotional and physical illness). The cybernetic model of Kagan and Levi which states that there is a two way interaction between psychosocial stress and psychobiological programme which determines the physiological and psychological reaction leading to precursor of disease.

Yoga can resolve stress by enhancing our internal power, rather than banking on the chemical agents. It delays the expression of illness. It must be emphasised here that yoga is not a substitute to pharmacological intervention in acute cases, rather has an augmenting and supplementing therapeutic effect with pharmacotherapy in illness.

Signs of stress

  • Slumps in performance
  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety, panic or phobias
  • Negative feelings of fear, anger, sadness, guilt, frustration, jealousy, hurt, and resentment
  • Burn out
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression

Beating stress with Chanting Yoga

Yoga and meditation help a person to cope in stressful situations, facilitating a healthy life. Yoga works by creating a homeostasis in accordance to the law of nature.

Some people try to overcome stress with various gadgets for physical comforts, sensual enjoyment and assorted medication which are all widely available. However, use of these interventions really doesn't resolve the pressure and burden of anxiety and frustration arising with stress.

Practising yoga addresses these issues and facilitates a broader outlook towards life with which one can conquer stress.

The idea of a body-mind connection as suggested in yoga is not a new one. The recent concept of illness is based in these basic fundamental principles. George Engel proposed the bio-psycho-social model for understanding the aetiology of illness. It emphasizes that understanding and treating illness requires attending to the three levels of human function biological, psychological, and social, as well as to their systematic interrelations. Common systems are subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, central nervous system, individual, dyad, family, community, culture and subculture, society and nation, and biosphere. In understanding health and disease, all systems are relevant. Each system of this model has a functional structure, one of its purposes being the reduction of complexity and randomness to protect that system's integrity.

Daily stressful events are critical in determining the magnitude of subsequent physiological effects on human body. This chronic stress translates into disease, as a result of failure or inability to adapt to life stresses.

  • In a study by National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in the US, of non-institutionalized population the reported use of meditation is increased by 7.6% and that of yoga by 5.1% in the general population.

  • A study by Lee (2007) examined the effectiveness of meditation in stress management programme in patients with anxiety disorder. Patients were randomly assigned to either a meditation-based stress management program or an anxiety disorder education program. There was a significant reduction in the Hamilton anxiety rating scores (HAM-A). This training programme included exercise, stretching, muscle build up and relaxation. The group received audio CDs to practice at home.

  • Pranayam (breathing exercises) and meditation exercises (savassana) have been shown to improve and reach higher level of relaxation in a short period of time.

Beyond stress

  • Influence others towards agreements
  • Achieve success at the highest level
  • Work more effectively
  • Reduce anxiety, work stress, insomnia and tiredness
  • Reduced cigarette smoking and alcohol intake
  • Increased job satisfaction

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