We have within our nervous system two different, primitive survival mechanisms: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The first is the fight-or flight response. It evolved to protect us when mortal dangers were very real. When stimulated, it primes the body for explosive action, releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream in preparation for self-defense or running away. The second, the parasympathetic nervous system, is sometimes called the “rest and digest” response. It counters the sympathetic effects, calming and hydrating the body. The problem is, the sympathetic nervous system is very effective and can get triggered all the time: when a siren goes, by when you’re late for work, when you’re under a deadline. In some of us, it never quite stops working as we are constantly under some form pressure of pressure.
This where stress can become dangerous. Over an extended period of time, this constant self-guarding and revving up can have knock-on effects that cause tremendous harm to your system. Do any of these seem familiar to you?
Effects of Stress
- Muscle tension or pain
- Change in sex drive
- Sleep problems
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
Studies have shown that mind-body practices such as the Alexander Technique and Yoga can be extremely effective in helping relieve the negative effects of stress and in increasing a person’s ability to manage with the many stressors in their life.
How the Alexander Technique Can Help You Relieve Stress
The stress response, also known as the “startle” response involves a very specific series of reflex actions in the body which the Alexander Technique can teach you to recognize and defuse. Taking lessons in the Alexander Technique will help you become aware of when you are going into this startle response much sooner than you would normally and will give you the tools to redirect that energy into choices that will not only diffuse the effects of stress, but that are actively beneficial to you.
How Yoga Can Help You Relieve Stress
The poses you will perform in Yoga, especially Restorative Yoga, support your organs (including your kidneys and adrenal glands) and your breathing mechanism, allowing them to switch over from the sympathetic mode (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic mode (rest and digest).
Taking regular Yoga classes appropriate to your level can help undo the effects of long-term stress on your body by bringing you into a state that becomes progressively calmer and more filled with equanimity over time.
How They Work Together In Your Quest To Relieve Stress
Regular private Alexander Technique lessons provide you with one-on-one, hands-on experience tailored to your needs, teaching you how to help yourself at your own pace. Regular attendance of group classes in the Alexander Technique and/or Yoga will give you the opportunity to learn more and empower yourself as you apply what you have learned in your private lessons to the challenge of different activities.