According to Indian scriptures, the ability to think and contemplate is what makes us human. When it comes to the mind, it is the source of both man’s sadness (slavery) and joy (nirvana). In short, an uncontrolled mind creates sorrow while a well-governed mind creates happiness. Every particle of our world is fleeting and transient. Thus, the feelings of attachment-aversion and love-hate produce suffering. To this end, misery is intellectual ignorance, which can be described as delusion, mistaken knowledge, bias, and belief, among other things.
There are many types of stress, but the root cause of it all is our ignorance and indiscretion.
Working and earning a living requires a certain level of stress. Nature has provided humans with pituitary and adrenal glands to alleviate stress in emergencies and balance the body and psyche. However, if this stress persists in us for a prolonged period, it becomes a source of distress, eventually hollowing out our personality.
Young people are stressed about keeping their careers and jobs. Mindlessly raising our desires and expectations, overtaking the competition, trying to lead others on to our own, gives us stress – which is the result of our ignorance. The side effects of stress – fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, lack of interest in work, anger, fear, insecurity and irritability, despair and frustration – weigh on our minds and our emotions. Psychosomatic illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive disease, constipation, IBS, asthma, arthritis, and cancer take over. Along with this, there is an emotional imbalance that also ruins relationships.
The only remedy for the ignorance of the mind is to understand it and mold it according to objectivity, science, logic and truth. It is the permanent solution to eliminate all stress and sorrow. This is only possible 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 get to know ourselves. With our knowledge, we become aware of our infinite capacities. One who becomes aware of his infinite potential and energy rises above the competition, works for excellence and imitates no one else.
Only the activities of yoga can permanently save a human being from all his sorrows, stresses and illnesses. These activities include asana, pranayama, meditation, satsang, self-study, and service work.
I explain three main asanas for relief:
Sit down with both legs stretched out in front of you. Relax the body and take five long, deep breaths. Now bend the left leg from the knee inwards and touch its sole with the thigh of the right leg. Consciously raise both hands. straighten, lean forward so that both hands touch the toes of the right foot in the final position, and the forehead touches the knee. Do not force anything. Keeping the breath normal in this position, stay for a comfortable amount of time and then return 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 floor with your knees bent. Consciously take five long, deep breaths. Now lean your body backwards by moving your right hand from behind to the right heel and your left hand to the left heel. Push your hips forward as much as possible. In this position, while maintaining normal breathing, practice as easily as possible, then return to the previous position.
Meru Vakra Asana
Sit down with both legs stretched out in front. After loosening all parts of the body, take five long, deep breaths. Now bend your right leg from the knee and place his foot on the other side of the left knee. Now place your left hand on the right foot and bring it over 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 moment and return to the previous position. Do the same action on the other side as well.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is most effective in stress management. Sit in any meditation posture like Padmasana, Siddhasana, Sukhasana or a chair with straight spine, neck and head. Gently close your eyes and relax your face. Consciously take five long, deep breaths. Now close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and consciously inhale long, deep, slow breaths through the left nostril. Immediately after that, close the left nostril with the ring finger of the right hand and consciously exhale slowly, long and deeply through the right nostril. Then inhale through that nostril in the same way and exhale through the left nostril. This is a cycle of purification of Nadi (nerve, blood vessel or pulse). In the beginning, practice 12 cycles.
Dhyana or Meditation
Sit in any meditation posture like Siddhasana, Padmasana or Sukhasana or in a chair with the spine, neck and head aligned. Close your eyes very loosely and lightly. Leave the facial muscles loose. Consciously take five long, deep breaths. Now focus your mind on your natural breathing. Ignore the thoughts that pop into your mind. Repeatedly focus your mind on the breath. This practice should be practiced for as long as comfortably possible. After that, the meditation practice can be finished. It should be done daily for at least 15 minutes.
(Acharya Kaushal has authored several books on yoga, has coached ministers and corporations, and worked with Ministries of Health, AYUSH, and HRD to popularize yoga. He co-authored his latest book Decoding the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali with Jai Singhania)