Unlike what they say about missing sleep, stress can build up over weeks, months even years. True to the “silent killer” moniker it can eventually kill you. After basically the entire world has been in an extra stressful situation due to covid and the economic fallout from the preventative measures taken to stop it, we all need to begin finding ways, not only to reduce the current stress levels, which are likely high, but to work off the effects of the accumulated stress that has been building for at least a year.
And that is not accounting for the “normal” stresses we all face individually in our own worlds, lives and due to our own unique problems.
Enter the practice and lifestyle benefits of yoga. Estimates of the origins of Yoga peg the beginnings at at least five thousand years and believe the practice could have been developed as long ago as ten thousand. The study of yoga goes beyond just the familiar “pretzel poses” and encompasses a way of life and philosophy that is universal.
According to the “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” (wikipedia: Sutra in Indian literary traditions refers to an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a condensed manual or text. Sutras are a genre of ancient and medieval Indian texts found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.) there are eight “limbs” to the path of yoga:
1. yama (moral restraints) – how we relate to others
2. niyama (observances) – how we relate to ourselves
3. āsana (posture) – how we relate to our body
4. prāṇāyāma (breath extension) – how we relate to our breath or spirit
5. pratyāhāra (sensory withdrawal) – how we relate to our sense organs
6. dhāraṇā (concentration) – how we relate to our mind
7. dhyāna (meditation) – moving beyond the mind
8. samādhi (meditative absorption) – deep realization and inner union
(quoted from http://ashtanga-yoga-victoria.com/what-are-the-eight-8-limbs-of-yoga/)
As can be seen from the list above there are many levels of thought and action that can all coalesce to form a bulwark against stress and to improve the enjoyment of life as a whole. Wherever you begin and at whatever level your journey brings you to, any interaction with these thoughts, actions and choices can enhance your life in some way.
Even the simplest meditation or reflection on our breathing and its connection to our inner spirit can cause an instantaneous reduction in stress and psychic pain. Below we’ve put together a variety of books that could represent a first step toward discovering how yoga, in whatever level or aspect your choose to explore, can reduce stress and help you take a huge step on the road to recovery.
Descriptions are courtesy of bookshop.org and the individual publishers:
Yoga: A Manual for Life
A stand alone practice companion and beautiful coffee table book, Yoga: A Manual for Lifeis for anyone interested in yoga, mindful movement and meditation, and exploring how these practices fit within the modern world.
As well as an extensive guide to poses, this book features a number of picture-led sequences with specific targets in mind: to combat stress and fatigue, to ground, to uplift, to inspire creativity and to sleep better.
These sequences are underpinned with essays on yoga’s relationship with different aspects of life, such as yoga and discipline, yoga and self-care, and yoga and difficulty.
Peppered throughout the book are mindful life hacks–simple ways to take yoga’s message of radical self-care off the mat and into daily life. Click here to see “Yoga: a Manual for Life” also available on Amazon.
Restorative Yoga: Relax. Restore. Re-Energize.
Are you seeking balance, healing, and a calmer mind? Unlike active styles of yoga that focus on stretching and movement, restorative yoga emphasizes mindful rest by using props to support your body in complete comfort and relaxation–no flexibility required!
Whether you already practice yoga or are just getting started, Restorative Yoga is your step-by-step guide to deepening the connection between your body and mind. Click here to see “Restorative Yoga” also available on Amazon.
Yoga: Relaxation, Postures, Daily Routines
Yoga is a popular physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that originated in ancient India.
Various traditions of yoga can be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, and in recent years Western culture has embraced yoga’s power of simplicity, stillness and mental poise.
This accessible new book focuses on a series of exercises, body motions and self-disciplines that offer the benefits of yoga to everyone.
Restore and Rebalance: Yoga for Deep Relaxation
Restorative yoga offers the body a chance to rest deeply and revitalize. Whether you are feeling weak, fatigued, stressed from daily activities, or simply need to slow down and tune into your body, this wonderfully adaptive practice is essential for well being.
Many of the practices are simple and accessible for people of all ages and in all states of health, using props that are readily available–like pillows and chairs. These deeply relaxing poses help you. Click here to see “Restore and Rebalance” also available on Amazon.
Yin Yoga: Stretch the Mindful Way
Yin yoga offer remedies to the stresses of your busy yang life. Each restorative pose targets your deeper fascia and connective tissues, helping you experience increased flexibility and improved joint health.
Yin yoga also focuses on deep breathing and longer hold times, allowing you the time and space to clear your mind and enhance your mental acuity.
These meditative poses will help you attain a renewed sense of mindfulness and physical well-being, making them the perfect complement to an active yang lifestyle and helping bring you back into balance. Click here to see “Yin Yoga” also available on Amazon.
Sleep Recovery: The Five Step Yoga Solution to Restore Your Rest
Insomnia is reaching epidemic proportions: more than half of us will suffer from a sleep problem during our lifetimes.
In this practical, compassionate guide, renowned yoga teacher and sleep specialist Lisa Sanfilippo shows how to sweep out sleep saboteurs and rest wreckers, putting in place sustainable strategies that will boost your energy during the day, and help you access a good night’s rest.
As we began this article above sleep was mentioned and, in contrast to our initial statements, recovery is also possible and yoga is one way that improvement, that so many of us desperately seek, is available. We hope you enjoyed this selection of books to help combat stress and ask that you please visit us again and also our sister sites Cherrybooks and InforMinx.
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