Yoga and health: the importance of relaxation, a public lecture and seminar 7 - May 8, 2010
Yoga and Health
First, Dr. Fytopoulos, psychiatrist, spoke about relaxation. He said it is a basic human right to be able to relax. Small children and animals give us real examples of relaxation. During sleep at night our body has the chance to refresh its organs. During the day stress and tension accumulate, and because the mind and body are interrelated, the tension of the mind is reflected in the body. The more relaxed we are, the less sleep we need.
What exactly is tension? There are nerve impulses from the brain to the muscles, that is muscle tone. In a normal situation, our muscles are in a state of readiness. When there is tension on the mental and emotional levels, we have hypertension. This results in an enormous waste of energy, which affects all the organs of the body. The heart pumps harder, the blood pressure rises, the intestine is overworked. The accumulated intensity results in malfunctioning of the different organs and systems sooner or later, which leads to disease.
To deal with dangerous situations, the mechanism fight or flight is set in motion and the adrenal glands secrete large amounts of adrenaline. At difficult times this mechanism is activated and creates hypertension. The various stimulants we use, such as coffee, have primary and secondary intensity levels (in the beginning they enhance performance but later they become stressful) and this exhausts the whole system. The mechanism for dealing with emergency situations is very helpful and we have been endowed by nature with this, but is should not be used on a daily basis, regardless of situation and problem.
The fake needs of a consumer society have created a vicious cycle of tension. Simplifying our lives will make it more relaxed and meaningful.
Breathing is very basic because it regulates the bio-energy in our body. For mental relaxation one can conduct a breathing technique that sounds like the humming of a bee, brahmari pranayama. Our goal should be to develop and exercise awareness. At first this takes effort. The technique of Yoga Nidra induces physical, emotional and mental relaxation.
After Dr Fytopoulos, psychologist Christina Kalogianni spoke about how anxiety affects the body, mind and emotions. She also explained how anxiety affects our social life and health on all levels. In harmonious families, the different members can manage stress and have a balanced relationship. People create a problematic and stressful atmosphere when they give out wrong messages, and do not leave time and space for family members to deal with things. Outbursts occur which can be internalized by the children and appear in the form of illnesses (asthma, hyperactivity, allergies, and even depression).
There is also constructive anxiety, which is the driving force behind achieving ones goals. It should not however become a hindrance to what we want to do. Understanding ourselves, helps us to live without problems and yoga helps in this.
With the development of emotional intelligence we develop recognition of our emotions, knowledge of how they work and control over them. Then we are able to handle relationships better. According to psychology, yoga is a means to understand psychosomatic functioning of our being and help us develop the necessary skills to live a healthy and meaningful life.