Whether or not you are trying, yoga will decrease the amount of time that your body is dominated by your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight, the OMG-I-need-to-get-out-of-here-heart-racing-heavy-breathing-system) and increase the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Both nervous systems are always working, but you would prefer that the parasympathetic nervous system dominate, and your body is in a more constant state of calm. If you live in the sympathetic nervous system most of the time, your heart is constantly racing, your breathing rate is elevated or shallow, and you may have higher than normal levels or cortisol (the stress hormone) circulating through your body. When a bear is chasing you, these things are important. They are the collection of responses that will save you. But when you are at work? They will do you no good.
In yoga, you learn how to breathe through the uncomfortable and relax. Off the mat, the next time something is unbearable, perhaps your yoga breath helps you to sit through the meeting with your annoying co-worker 5 more minutes, or maybe you allow that jerk on the freeway to cut you off, because maybe he/she has somewhere important to go. It’s not that you’re not bothered by anything, but the little things that used to annoy you are no big deal. It takes a lot more to get my blood boiling than it used to, but when my sympathetic nervous system is dominating, I am still able to maintain my deep breathing, which in turn may help me to calm down and return to my normal state sooner. When you’re not constantly on edge, you can enjoy life much more. You now have the calm and sense of mind to appreciate the little things.
Deadlines and horrible bosses will never change, but we can change ourselves and how we react to what is around us. So today, I challenge you to RELAX. In the grand scheme of life, it’s not that big of a deal, and like all things in life (both good and bad) whatever is stressing you out will soon come to an end.