– by Chitra Chandrasiri –

Do you find yourself complaining that you have too much to do and not enough time, and it gets worse week after week to a point that you feel burnt out and your creative energy and morale plummeted?

If you ask someone “How are you?” the reply could be anything from “I’m ok to I am so stressed” these days. It is all too familiar conversation that you hear so often and you know exactly how it feels; You’ve felt the same way all too often yourself.

For some of us the stress shows up as insomnia, while others sleep well but suffer from all sorts of other symptoms. Individual stress symptoms can differ, but all have their roots in the psychological and physiological changes that our bodies undergo when we feel we’re in danger.

Stress is a slippery word to define, but we all have experienced it. Stress in any form, mild or severe, arise from our struggle to survive. We experience it when we sense a threat to ourselves. A situation doesn’t have to threaten imminent death to cause stress. We get disturbed by social threats like job security, marital problems and financial woes. One key thing to remember about stress is that a threat doesn’t have to be real to cause it; we just have to believe it’s real.

Short-term (acute) stress evokes physical and emotional responses that activate the body and mind to deal with an immediate threat. When the threat passes, the reactions subside. Long-term (chronic) stress evokes similar responses. When we experience moderate stress repeatedly day after day our bodies activate the same emergency systems although to a lesser degree, usually at a lower intensity, but keep repeating them without respite. When they repeat too often for too long, the life-saving responses that are so helpful in the short run can actually become dangerous themselves. Chronic stress can lead to susceptibility to disease, infertility, poor healing capability, and exhaustion.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that you can adapt to cope with stress: To begin with you can consider changing your situation, changing your attitude, and changing your lifestyle that is the root cause of stress.

Changing your situation – getting a new job, moving to a new neighborhood, or leaving an unhealthy relationship can be very effective, but it’s often not practical or even desirable.

Changing your attitude – Learning to let go can be very powerful, even life-transforming, because it puts you in control. When you realize you can choose how you react, many events you formerly found stressful may lose their power to push your buttons.

Changing your lifestyle – Healthy eating, exercising, deep relaxation, meditation, spending quality time with loved ones and sincere friends, avoiding addiction to alcohol, harmful drugs and smoking help you recover from stress and keeps it from building up again.

I know from my own experience that yoga is an effective stress buster. Yoga directly counteracts both the physiological and psychological components of stress, simultaneously helping you take better care of yourself and change your attitude. The stretching you do in yoga asanas relieves muscle tension. Upside-down poses and reclining poses slow the heart, relax the blood vessels and calm the brain. Pranayama (yogic breath work) slows respiration and breath rate. As you practice being more aware and mindful, you gain a sense of self-control, equanimity, and peace of mind.

With years of study and experiment with different styles of yoga, I have come to understand how yoga truly works as a stress buster. In my yoga programs I include deep relaxation, pranayama, and meditation to give a wholesome experience to my students. Initially, some of my students thought yoga was just stretching. They were blown away when they discovered how yoga helped them to cope with stress, to get more done in their day, and to succeed in their goals in a more relaxed way. They also commented on how their relationships improved. They thought they would stretch, which they did. But they also learnt how to breathe properly and how to change their body and mind to create positive changes.

Perhaps most important of all, meditation and the understanding of yoga philosophy can help you realize that most of the things that upset you just aren’t worth getting stressed about in the first place.

Meditation for Emotional Balance (Sunia(n) Antar

Sunia(n) Antar meditation for emotional balance is an excellent Kundalini yoga meditation especially for women when worried, emotional and upset and don’t know what to do. When you feel like screaming and yelling just do this meditation for 3 minutes.

When depressed, upset or emotional, pay attention to the body’s water balance and breath rate. Humans are approximately 70% water and human behavior depends upon the relation of water and earth, air and ether.

Breath, representing air and ether, is the rhythm of life. Normally we breathe 15- 18 times a minute. But when we are able to slow down the breath rate to 4 breaths per minute, we have indirect control over our minds. This control eliminates obnoxious behavior, promoting calm mind regardless of the state of affairs.

When there is a water imbalance in the body, and the kidneys are under pressure, it can cause worry and upset. Drink a glass of water before practicing this meditation.

How to do Sunia(n) Antar Meditation

Sit in Easy Pose or in a comfortable chair. Place the arms across the chest and lock hands under the armpits, with palms open and against the body. Raise the shoulders up tightly against the earlobes, without cramping the neck muscles. Keep the spine straight and the head in straight line with the spine. Tuck in the chin slightly towards the chest (Neck Lock). Close the eyes. The breath will automatically become slow. Continue for 3 minutes and gradually increase to 11 minutes.

Drinking water, pulling the shoulders up to the ears and tightly locking the entire upper body creates a solid brake that can be applied to the four sides of the brain. After 2- 3 minutes, thoughts will still be there, but one does not feel them. This is an effective meditation to balance the functional brain.