Our bodies handle stress in many different ways. Sometimes it manifests as acne, sometimes as colitis, and other times as a carbohydrate craving. One of the wonderful aspects of yoga is its ability to teach us how to manage our stress levels. When confronted with a difficult situation we can either look at it is a threat, or a challenge. To be conscious of how we walk through our challenging situations can save our mind and body from creating not only mental stress, but also their physical manifestations.
My mother kicked me out of the house while in high school at the age of 17. My father left when I was 8, and I mostly felt anxious and unwanted for a large portion of my young adult years. Lucky for me my best friend at the age of 8 introduced me to yoga and chanting. It was really not until years later at the age of 21 that I truly embraced the science of yoga for stress management and was able to use it to begin to heal my own manifestations of stress that include diverticulosis (an inflammation of the diverticuli pockets of the colon creating pain and swelling).
I feel extremely fortunate to have learned yoga for stress relief, which is why I love teaching it to others to empower them as students. We are capable of a great deal of self-healing if we just begin to slow down and pay attention. You can find a few of my favorite yoga techniques to unwind and relieve stress using self care here.
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I don’t know many children that learn to chant. My son loves it and I am glad to see that the seed the was sewn at the age of 8 grew and helped you to embrace the practice later. 🙂
It is wonderful that you were introduce to yoga so early in life. I did not appreciate it until much later in life when I was going through a difficult time. I do hear from many people that they begin to practice yoga after emotional loss, recovering from injury or addiction or dealing with challenges and difficulties. I can better relax myself now with meditation, breathing, rolling on the balls and just repeating my sankulpa. I just have to work on it all because it is most difficult at the most challenging times
I am still a work in progress but have found yoga tuneup breathing technique with the power of self massage are a great combo in dealing with stress. Thanks for sharing!
Stress is actually held in different parts of the body depending on the individual and their personal traumas or stresses. For example, hips being stiff and stuck is supposedly related to sexual abuse or sexual trauma. The only way to make sure that stress does not build and get stuck is your body is to move! Work it out, and get the movement to break up parts where poor circulation is creating stagnation.
One of my favorite aspects of the Jill Miller program is the encouraging enthusiasm to just move, even if its not the classical yoga posture you are used to. It all about body exploration. She has my heart. 😉
**stress vid link is broken.
Thank you for this post, Tiffany. It actually struck a very deep cord in me. 23 years ago, when I started going to my first yoga classes, I found myself very uncomfortable with the quiet, the stillness, the peacefulness. It wasn’t until many years later that I could finally, fully embrace the calm and I realized that was because it was foreign to me. Of course I was drawn to yoga because I needed the stress release, but I fought it, until I just finally waved the white flag. There are so many pieces of my practice that I can now use as stress reducers and I am lucky enough to be able to access them off the mat. Self healing is very powerful and it can translate into a super stress reduction tool.
HI Heather! Thank You so much for your sweet words! Hope you are loving your training!
Thank you for sharing your story. We actually met at the Core Immersion at West Hartford. From what I saw of you it was clear that you have become a calm and confident woman. Hope you continue to thrive and master letting go. 🙂
I turned to yoga at a very hard time in my life. The breathing and holding of the poses were what drew me to the practice. I felt empowered and healthier. Dealing with challenges during my practice transitioned into how I handled challenges in every day life. Stress management is still a huge hurdle for me and something I continue to struggle with. Now that I am familiar with yoga tune up and relieving stress through self care, I am excited to work through my challenges in a new way!
Yes, so empowering to know we’re managing our lives and stress level by managing our personal stress. The YTU balls instigate deep breathing almost no matter where you place them on your body; hugely getting is on our way for reducing accumulated stress.
I love how much of yourself you shared in this blog. Sometimes we can focus so much on the physical in our practice, but the stress reduction that comes from our yoga, whatever it looks like perhaps can make the most impact. Thanks for also mentioning digestive issues, since 80% of serotonin is created in our gut, yoga that uses abdominal breathing will totally relieve stress!
I think there is something incredibly therapeutic, gentle, yet empowering about yoga…which is probably why I find myself on the mat…. Whatever the reason may be, I think yoga can aid many people (definitely myself) in relieving stress, emotional distress, and physical discomfort (whether or not it’s a result of stress/emotional distress). Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I’m sure that your journey has made your stronger and certainly a better teacher.
Thank you for your honest and touching post. For so long I went to yoga, usually Bikram, for a workout. I figured if I worked out harder, that would relieve my stress. Meanwhile, I continued to simply accumulate it and it usually manifested itself in the form of anger or self-loathing. I became my own worsst enemy, the queen of self-sabotage. About 18 months ago something happened that really rattled my cage and although I’d been exploring yoga from a more spiritual perspective and as a stress reliever, it wasn’t until that point that I gave myself over to it. I’m looking forward to seeing how the YTU sequences and the balls can help me move forward in this part of my practice.
I started practicing yoga during a really difficult time in my life about 9 years ago. At first, I could believe the immense emotional relief that yoga gave me. Over time, I’ve been able to benefit from both the ‘surface’ emotional relief, but also the deeper, emotional relief that manifests itself in physical symptoms and as a result, I think that I can attribute my general good health to this deeper practice. It is also so much more apparent to me now when I am ‘off center’ and need to take some time for myself which may take the form of a quiet day at home, a hike along the ocean, a strong yoga flow, or a restorative practice. I think that with time, yoga has helped me to learn to listen so much better to what my body and mind need.
…”carbohydrate cravings”….totally guilty. That and gummy bears, when I get stressed or anxious. You brought up a really good thought, maybe next time I have those cravings I should practice one of my favorite chants to myself to break the anxiety. Really good idea, I’m excited to try this – thank you Tiffany!
I started doing yoga at age 11, I think it was how I got out of adolescence alive. Over the last two years I fostered a teen who had had a very troubled life, Part of our relationship included his desire to learn yoga to relieve stress. In the process this “underachiever” got through high school, and is working an associate degree which is quite amazing., but for me the real joy in his smile.
Thanks Tiffany! I love how you posed your idea, how we can look at difficult situations as a threat or a challenge. That’s very important to dissect and truly understand, because in life you get handed lemons often, it’s what you do with them that can change your results. Great insight!
Controlled breathing/Yoga has helped me reduce my stress. It’s amazing, even adding a few additional classes a week, help me rid my stress entirely. A one hour yoga buzz can change your perspective on any stressful situation.
Kristin~ Learn and grow you will!! Enjoy 😉
Stress is incredibly prevalent today with almost everyone. Certain people manage and others don’t. I, myself, have difficult times managing it. Some days are great…. and others not so much. I am continuously learning and trying my best to down regulate especially at night. On the positive side, I know what it feels like and I know how it can affect people from first hand knowledge. I will go on this journey with my students and continue to learn and grow.
Through my practice of yoga I am learning how to better deal with my daily stresses. Each time I come out of a yoga class I feel like I am on a yoga “high”. It is almost as if nothing is going to ruin the rest of my day no matter what comes my way. It is incredible what an hour in class can do to your mental well being,
Besides teaching yoga, I am still working in a very stressful business. But I find that watching my breath really keeps me calm and peaceful. In fact, I’ve noticed that when I stay calm and breath, the folks that are making things crazy calm down too!
Stress is the cause of 80% of disease according to John Douillard, PhD, teacher of Ayurvedic medicine.
I have always had a very difficult time coping with stress. At the age of 13 I was in competitive gymnastics and had much pressure from my coach to stay thin. I developed eating disorders that I struggled with all the way through college. It was my Yoga practice, which I discovered at the age of 20, that showed me a better way to deal with stressful situations and taught me to listen and take care my body in a more holistic way. Now, when I feel anxious and under stress, I sit down to meditate or go through a few sun salutations while focusing on my breath. It works miracles every time!
I think stress manifests in so many ways these days with our lifestyles going into faster paced ‘do more’ ‘be more’ ‘prove yourself’, etc and people getting caught up in the rat race forgetting what is important to them in life.. really important. Not what other people and media are telling them is important. Something I remind those I have an opportunity to share or talk with is that this is your life, and if it ended tomorrow, would you be happy about where you are right now, in this moment? If the answer is no, then make the changes to make it so. Sure that sounds easy to say and harder to do, but truly, the moment is all you have, so better get it together, take the moment and live it the way you want it to play out, what’s the alternative, stress, disappointment and regret, or fulfillment and happiness?
I used to work in investment banking which I loved for the intellectual challenge and the adrenalin rush. However, it wasn’t a job that had set hours or allowed for real vacations. There’s always a market open somewhere in the world and something could happen at any moment that would change all my careful assumptions in seconds. Despite having practiced yoga since my late teens, the more stressed I got with my job, the less I practiced yoga – until I stopped going altogether. At the time, the thought of taking the time to relax and take care of my body and mind was too stressful. Insanity. I’m better now. :0)
I have learned so much in my yogic life about dealing with stress. The breath, such a simple tool, and yet so effective. The practice of detachment and allowing oneself to experience all life has to offer without being hung up with the outcome. The importance of daily yoga practice as a reminder and reinforcement of listening to your body. Being mindful as often and as much as possible so as to enjoy each journey. To meditate as a practice to look inward. And finally teaching yoga to others as therapy for self as much as sharing the benefits with others. Stress hasn’t become completely eradicated from my life due to yoga but it has definitely become easier to handle more often than not.
I feel stress rise up in me like a wave… as my Hawaiian friend says, “don’t fight the wave, be the wave.” except that I don’t want to be stressed. So… in my 15-year practice, I have to again and again not always embrace the stress and let it define me (with all my problems and disadvantage) but I also can’t deny what is… so self-healing that I am able to incorporate into those moments, then turns into a place where I can be in the wave/aware of the feeling of stress arise. and I meet it, with my yoga tune up balls 🙂 my journal, and my attention to THE BREATH! what an invaluable tool.
This blog touched me to my core, as I have experienced my share of health challenges with Crohn’s & Colitis, which I know manifested from how I use to handle my stress. As I have tried every way under the sun to manage and remove the dis-ease from my life, I found that settling my mind through meditation and yoga has been a way to healing myself from the past and protecting myself in the present.
On my journey of continued optimum health, I realize that it is my passion for not just me, but others. I am currently enrolled in a Pure Yoga Teacher Training Program at Equinox in Chicago. This is the second week and I love it.
This weekend, we focused on anatomy. I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but with an awesome teacher like Jill, it almost makes me want to become a doctor! However, since I only have so many breaths before I move on, I will start my healing journey with being a yoga teacher and through writing.
My continuous work of healing allows me to simply just be and I look forward to assisting others towards their peaceful journey.
Toy versus Tool
I noticed that different yoga instructors are using the Yoga Tune Up Therapy balls in different ways, playfully, like a “toy” and as a serious “tool.” Both seem to work great for stress relief because I feel the difference in my body. Toy version is fun, relaxing and entertaining. Tool version can sometimes be painful, serious and requires commitment. Still, both ways work for me!
I couldn’t agree more with this article. Yoga has really helped me to be more conscious of what’s going on, off my mat. There is such a difference I feel once I’ve been stretched and strengenthed in class. I feel limber and powerful and use that feeling that I generate on my mat into my everyday life – when good and bad things show up. Its a powerful practice.
Tiffany, thank you for sharing your story. My family was thrust into a tumultuous time a year ago when our 13 year old daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. One day she was living the carefree life of a regular teenager and the next, was experiencing terrible pain, endless trips to doctor’s and hospitals, and months of missed school days. We started her on Yoga almost immediately and it was a God send. Yes, the medications she’s taking are successfully managing her disease, but my husband and I believe deeply the tools she acquired from yoga have had a profound affect on her mental and emotional well being. As parents, seeing your child suffer in a medical crisis can be awful, but I am so grateful for the solace I found by returning to my mat each and every day. And now, immersing myself in Yoga Tune Up is giving me a much broader understanding of working with the body through the yogic lens and developing the tools we all need for self-healing.
It’s amazing the amount of manifestations stress can make on our bodies and minds. Stress is a powerful force, but yoga is definitely the force to reckon with it. Like you’re saying with walking through challenging situations in our lives, the unexpected bliss that lingers from a yoga class is an unparalleled beauty. Finding patience in situations it has never before appeared, becoming more optimistic, not sweating the small stuff are just part and parcel reactions to the action of yoga.
Stress is one of the leading causes for many dis-ease of the modern world.Our inability to slow down and look within makes us disvonnected from who we are and what we believe about ourselves.
For me,Yoga, and epecially Yoga Tune Up is such an amazing gateway to down-regulate my nervous system and truly rejuvanate my tissue,muscles and pockets.
I’m still a work in progress, but I am definitely using yoga to learn how to better handle stress. Thanks for sharing your story.
The main reason I started practicing yoga was to help relieve stress and tension and to feel good mentally. I definitely think some of the aches and pains I experience physically are directly related to having too much stress in my life. Thanks to yoga for helping relieve some of that!
Tiffany, thank you for the tips on pranayama. The exercise you described is very accessible, especially those people new to yoga or learning self care and healing.
I appreciate this post. I relate to this. I learned years ago in a co counseling class the importance of deep listening and so I began trying this with meditation. I close my eyes and spend time being a good friend to the space around me by opening my heart and my ears. This calms me.
I am constantly amazed by how emotional stress can manifest itself physically. Thank you for sharing such a poignant story about this. And I agree that practicing yoga is such an empowering way to learn how reframe situations.
Tiffany thanks for sharing your personal story about stress. We all have it in some form or another and have turned to yoga and especially to practicing Pranayama.
Hi Tiffany! Thanks for getting back to me. I will absolutely give this a try.
Hi Allyson! Relaxation of the mind is directly correlated with pranayama. As you work with the Tune Up balls, set an intention of focused breath. Meaning, follow each breath that enters the body, and send it to specific body places to unwind. As the body begins to decompress, the internal organs will follow. Healing always begins with breath. Your entire body is a map of trigger points, all of which will calm the body for relaxation. Simply get down and roll! 🙂
Thanks for sharing the wisdom that emotional stress gets carried in our bodies. I look forward to experience the same type of relief and your post fortifies my resolve to do so in a healthy way through yoga!
Any suggestions for using the ytu balls on specific trigger points in the body to for relaxation of the mind, internal organs, muscles – as an added bonus?
I hope to work on this as stress is a huge part of everyone’s life.
Mediation is key. I have been trying to work on deep breathing sequences in the morning and evening. While doing the sequences I always think I’m doing it wrong. Then I realize its my sequence so it has to be right, I feel further confident in my sequence when I fall fast asleep at night and when I feel relax driving to work in the morning.
This blog explains why i do yoga. =]
My mind is constantly “on” naturally, which means I am stressed most of the time without even realizing it. Practicing yoga takes me out of my head and into my body. I can’t imagine what kind of person I would be without it!
After my Uncle’s death in 1990, my cousin was in and out of the hospital with stress induced colitis. It was eye opener about how stress affects the body. I too and grateful to have found yoga for this purpose. It is truly a powerful tool.
I just lost my job of 12 years on Monday, so I appreciate your comments. It reminded me of the techniques that Jill Miller taught at the Pure Yoga training that I am currently participating in now. I need to get those balls out again. Thank you for sharing your story. It put my loss in perspective.
You know the power yoga has on you when others tell you “you should really go to yoga tonight!” Yoga keeps me from storing every day stress in my body. Now, I can go for a run and blow off some steam and feel good. Yet, yoga helps me to mentally and physically let go of the “stuff” that serves me no purpose.
We all live in a stress filled world, but it’s absolutely how we deal with and manage stress that makes all the difference. Yoga is an incredible, natural way to deal with stress. Just breathe.
I also live with stress. I am probably a carb eater. I am going to play around with meditation and see if that will help me to unwind and relax. Thank you for this wonderful insight.
One of my symptoms of stress is mindless eating (and overeating). One of the things that I love about having the Yoga Tune Up balls is being able to take them to work with me and use them for just 3 minutes or so. So even if I can’t practice yoga that day, I am able to relieve some of the stress created by the workday, then go home and make better food choices. Love it.
This is so true. I have found that yoga helps in so many ways, but stress relief is one of the most valuable. Thanks for your post.
Now tell me that downdog sequence today didn’t kick that shoulder’s butt today, Bo! (ha) 😉
When I am overly stressed, I head straight for the carbs, but it also shows up in my body. I have one trigger point in my right shoulder that is my stress-o-meter. If I am really far gone the pain radiates all the way down to my hand. Our bodies will always tell us when we are taking on to much and if we have the sense to listen to the first twinge we won’t have to deal with the catastrophic events.
Thank you for this very honest post. It’s a great message to share with instructors want-to-bes and layman yogis. It is actually striking how the once wounded turned out to be the best healers.