As per Indian scriptures, the ability for thought and contemplation is what makes us human. When it comes to the mind, it is the source of both man’s sadness (bondage) and joy (nirvana). In short, an uncontrolled mind creates sorrow while a well-governed mind causes happiness. Every particle in our world is fleeting and transient. Thus, feelings of attachment-aversion and love-hatred produce suffering. To that end, misery is intellectual ignorance, which can be described as an illusion, erroneous knowledge, bias and belief, among other things.
There are many types of stress, but the root cause of all is our ignorance and indiscretion.
Working and earning a living requires some level of stress. Nature has provided humans with pituitary and adrenal glands to alleviate stress during emergencies and balance the body and psyche. However, if this stress persists in us for an extended period of time, it becomes a source of distress, eventually hollowing out our personality.
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Young people are stressed about retaining their careers and jobs. Mindlessly increasing our desires and expectations, edging past competition, trying to drive others according to us, gives us stress — which is all the result of our ignorance. Side effects of stress – tiredness, restlessness, insomnia, lack of interest in work, anger, fear, insecurity and irritability, despair and frustration — weigh down on our minds and emotions. Psychosomatic diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive diseases, constipation, IBS, asthma, arthritis, and cancer, take over. Along with this, there is an emotional imbalance that ruins relationships as well.
The only remedy for the mind’s ignorance is understanding and molding it according to objectivity, science, logic, and truth. This is the permanent solution to remove all stress and sorrow. This is possible only through the practice of yoga.
Yoga works on the level of mind, emotion, and intellect. It is the only discipline in this entire world that works at the level of the mind. At the same time, through the practice of yoga, we come to know ourselves. With our knowledge, we become aware of our infinite capabilities. The one who gets the knowledge of his infinite potential and energy rises above the competition, works for excellence and does not imitate someone else.
Only the activities of yoga can permanently save a human being from all his sorrows, stress and diseases. These activities include asanas, pranayama, meditation, Satsang, self-study and the work of service.
I am explaining three main asanas for relief:
Sit with both legs stretched straight in front of you. Relax the body and take five long and deep breaths. Now bend the left leg from the knee inwards and touch its sole with the thigh of the right leg. Lifting both the hands consciously. straighten up, bend forward in such a way that both the hands touch the toes of the right foot in the final position and the forehead touches the knee. Don’t force anything. Keeping the breathing normal in this position, stay for a comfortable duration and then come back to the previous position. Repeat the same action with the other leg as well. Those with slip-disc problems should not practice it.
Stand on the ground with your knees bent. Consciously take five long and deep breaths. Now bend your body backward by moving your right hand from behind on the right heel and your left hand on the left heel. Push your hips forward as much as possible. In this position, while keeping the breathing normal, practice as easily as you can, after that return to the previous position.
Meru Vakra Asana
Sit with both legs stretched out in front. After loosening all the parts of the body, take five long and deep breaths. Now bend your right leg from the knee and place its foot on the other side of the left knee. Now take your left hand over the right foot and bring it to the toes of that foot. Move the right hand behind the back and turn the body to the right. Stay in this position for a comfortable time and come back to the previous position. Do the same action on the other side also.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is most effective in stress management. Sit in any posture of meditation like Padmasana, Siddhasana, Sukhasana, or chair with the spine, neck, and head straight. Close the eyes gently and relax the face. Consciously take five long and deep breaths. Now close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and consciously take long, deep and slow breaths in through the left nostril. Immediately after this, close the left nostril with the ring finger of the right hand and consciously exhale slowly, long, and deep through the right nostril. Then inhale through this nostril in the same way and exhale through the left nostril. This is a cycle of Nadi (nerve, blood vessel, or pulse) purification. In the beginning, practice 12 cycles.
Dhyana or Meditation
Sit in any posture of meditation like Siddhasana, Padmasana, or Sukhasana or on a chair with the spine, neck, and head aligned. Close the eyes very loosely and lightly. Leave the face muscles loose. Consciously take five long and deep breaths. Now concentrate the mind on your natural breathing. Ignore the thoughts that arise in your mind. Repeatedly focus your mind on the breath. This practice should be done for as long as possible comfortably. After this, the practice of meditation can be finished. It should be done daily for at least 15 minutes.
(Acharya Kaushal has authored multiple books on yoga, coached Ministers and corporates alike and has worked with the Health, AYUSH and HRD ministries to popularise yoga. He has co-authored his latest book Decoding the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali with Jai Singhania)