Stress and meditation
Stress is linked 60% of all GP and hospital visits in the UK, a situation reflected in much of the Western world. According to the American Medical Association diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain are linked to chronic stress.
Regardless of this Stress is just not a very nice state to be in. It impacts your mood, sleep, digestion and keeps tension in your body.
To manage stress you can access the indirect benefits offered by practising Yoga and Pilates or tackle it directly with meditation. Meditation teaches the mind to clock out allowing you to relax and remove stress.
Meditation and Yoga
These are offered through partners at the studio through regular workshops. Our first meditation workshop starts soon. You can access experienced teachers in an environment in which you are comfortable.
Research supporting Meditation and Yoga for Stress
How does stress work?
As hunter gatherers without shelter human nervous systems developed a response to physical threats releasing a flood stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, to rouse the body into immediate action. Your heart pumps faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses get sharper. Great if you need to fight, run or freeze in order to survive.
Now, in sheltered modern times, the brain does not easily distinguish between physical and mental threats. Financial, work and emotional triggers also induce the stress response. Without immediate cessation of the response these hormones stay and suppress your immune system, upset digestive and reproductive systems and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the ageing process. It can rewire your brain, leaving you vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Which studies show effects of meditation on stress?
Initial studies at Harvard University by Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist also working at Massachusetts General Hospital showed significant material change in brain structure - neuroplasticity - the brains ability to re-wire itself, through meditation.
Further studies building on this include
the US Army linking it to heart health and stressful situations
the Mayo Clinic linking it to better sleep sleep
a review of high quality studies showing effects of stress, anxiety and pain
Many skills taught by Meditation are now used widely - under the name of mindfulness - by a variety of people from corporate CEO's through to sports stars and students. It is an accepted tool to reduce and manage stress and the NHS uses it as an accepted practice for Depression and Anxiety.
Do these studies carry over to Yoga?
Yoga is one way to access meditation through movement. Like Pilates it focuses on mental awareness of physical sensation but rather than chasing sensation, practitioners look to calm the body. This is one of the skills meditation teaches. In relation to stress there are no high quality studies specifically linking the same effects of meditation to yoga so for now it should be seen as an access point that offers enormous benefits for the physique as well as the mind.
Where can I find out more?
Hard evidence for meditation
NICE / NHS Depression and Anxiety Guidelines
Studies on Yoga