Rita guides you through a most loving and sacred yoga practice. Her gentle nature and lightness allow for the most wonderful unfolding to take place in her class. As a fellow student and teacher I am always appreciative of her gifts and radiant smile she shares with others. ... Aarti Ganesh           Read more...

Stress and Our Health

The stress is the deterioration of our life. Today stress is being considered as one of the prime causes of serious physical ailments such as tensions, anxieties and disturbed mental conditions. Stress, however, is not a surprise condition of the mind. It comes through a particular mechanism. Stress arises out of tension. Tension is a condition and creation of the nervous system and this tension when finally travels to every atom and particle of the body, causes imbalances in the autonomic nervous system and in the endocrine system. 89% of all the ailments are stress-born. Blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and asthma are known as stress-borne diseases.


There is not one but hundreds of causes that can create stress. A little increase in daily workload may disturb you. It may create stress if you wake up late in the morning and fail to reach the place of work in time. Normally we find some people impatiently keep blowing the horns of their vehicles while driving or we find people cursing under their breaths at all and sundry or you see people restless as if they are getting late for some events; these are all reflections of the mental stress. 

Whatever stress you experience in your family, society or life can be accumulated in any part of your mind. Sometimes your stress is conscious, sometimes it is subconscious and many times it is unconscious. Stress which affects the conscious mind is not very dangerous. Stress that is stored in your subconscious mind comes out in the form of dreams. But the stress which is unknown, the stress which you don't understand, goes into your unconscious mind and can create havoc in your body, mind, emotions and personality.


There are three kinds of tensions and can be classified as muscular, mental and emotional. This threefold tension originates in our physical and mental structure and affects all other systems of the body. Some of you must have experienced that whenever you are under tension you make a lot of mistakes. This happens due to an imbalance in the nervous system which causes erratic behaviour. As tension ultimately culminates in stress, it is important at this point to understand these three kinds of tensions.


Muscular tension is caused by overly critical actions. The physical body has limited resources of energy and when we work exceedingly hard, this energy is diminished. We are then compelled to balance this decrease in energy by an extra intake of food or medicine to accelerate or accentuate the energy for overworking. For example, sportsmen require a great deal of energy to combat the strain of overusing their bodies. So, they are given extra hormones and drugs in order to maintain a regular flow of energy in the body. These physical or muscular tensions are not very serious or difficult to eliminate. With adequate rest and proper diet they can eventually be controlled.


The next form of tension is called mental tension, and most people in the world are suffering from it. We do not allow the mind to rest. The mind is always engaged in thoughts and this over thinking causes mental tension. Excessive thinking also leads to confusion in the mind which results in further tension. As a result of this, there is loss of memory and if mental tensions become acute, one cannot make accurate judgments, thus causing many disasters in life.


Our senses, mind, brain and nervous system are interconnected. The five senses are intimately connected to the brain and mind, as well as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Therefore, any perception and cognition that takes place in the mind involves the nervous system, the five senses and the brain. Every process of thinking is responsible for producing some type of secretion or hormone in the body from the endocrinal system. When you think of fear, anger or any strong emotion, the adrenal glands begin to secrete potent hormones, such as adrenalin. This is just one example. This is why thoughts should not he considered as mere psychological action. 

Every thought is psychological but it also produces a physiological effect on the body. It can accelerate and excite the adrenal glands which can create hyperactivity; it can cause an increase in the respiratory rate of the body; it can excite the kidneys and bladder.


The third type of tension is emotional tension. It is a very powerful factor in humans. Man is perhaps the only living creature that has known emotional tensions, and these arise from our relationship with persons, objects and events. When we have a certain philosophy then we begin to relate ourselves to people, objects and events in life. These relationships develop on the basis of raga and dwesha, or likes and dislikes. For example, you do not relate yourself to a man just because he is a man. You relate to him because you either like or dislike him. Similarly you relate yourself with events or objects on the basis of your personal likes, dislikes and attachments.


Therefore, as a human being, you are emotionally interacting with each and every thing around you. But everything is not according to your wish. When something happens according to your wish, there is a positive emotional tension and when something happens against your wish, then it creates a negative emotional tension. These emotional tensions can eventually cause peptic ulcer, asthma, heart attack or even mental insanity. They can make you a sinner or a saint. They can make you violent or they can simply transform you into a selfless servant of humanity.

So, these threefold tensions cause stress which eventually spreads throughout the body and mind, passing through physical, pranic and mental channels - fields of energy in the body.


Ida and Pingala, two forces in this physical body, represent the Sun and Moon, Shiva and Shakti or Consciousness and Life. These two channels flow throughout the body and in modern scientific terms, they are known as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Ida carries the force responsible for thinking and mental activities; Pingala carries the force representing Prana or vital action. These two forces are spread throughout the body, but the main channel flows within the spine intersecting at four main junctions or Chakras. These Chakras are Vortexes of energy or Prana and these are:

• The first is Swadhisthana Chakra which corresponds with the Sacral Plexus.
• The second is the Manipura Chakra or Solar Plexus.
• The third is the Anahata Chakra or Cardiac Plexus.
• The fourth is Vishuddhi Chakra or Cervical Plexus.

From these four junctions thousands of channels (72000) carry Prana and consciousness throughout each and every part of the body. Besides these four junctions there is one point where these two forces of Prana and Consciousness originate and another point where they terminate. The point of origin of these two forces is known as Mooladhara Chakra or the Cocoygeal Plexus, and the terminating point is known as Ajna Chakra or the Medulla Oblongata in the brain. These two points where the two forces originate and terminate are most important for the awakening and sublimation of this energy. In order to create harmony and eliminate stress, these two forces are to be harmonized.


Hidden deep within the recesses of the mind are the Samskaras or Archetypes which influence the emotions, personality and life of each and every individual. Your problems arise from this inner store of experiences. Happiness and unhappiness lie deep in you and these experiences are stored in the form of Samskaras. Within you they are accumulated in the form of particles. From particles they become waves of energy and these waves develop into a force which later emerges as an experience. Your experience of happiness or unhappiness arises in the form of a wave that is born of one particle. That particle is known as a Samskara or Archetype. There is another name for it and that is Karma. These Archetypes collectively form the Karma of an individual. It is on account of them that your mind, emotions and personality are formed. If you suffer in life, it is on account of your deep-rooted Karma; or if you happen to enjoy life, it is also on account of your Karma.


Karma cannot be dealt with by a rational process such as psychoanalysis or psychiatric treatment; rather it has to be understood as a subtle force underlying each and every action or event that you encounter. It has been found that the practice of concentration on a symbol is effective in purging out these Archetypes from the unconscious mind. In Yoga this practice of concentration is known as Trataka. When you practise Trataka on a symbol, you stimulate these particles or Samskaras in the brain.


• Ever noticed that certain people seem to adapt quickly to stressful circumstances and take things in stride. They are cool under pressure and able to handle problems as they come up. If you want to build your resilience, work on developing these attitudes and behaviours.

• Understand yourself by honest efforts, continuous awareness and learning. Identify the root causes & the role of expectation in creating stress.

• Train your mind to change the situation & smile when stress develops.

• Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half-full or half-empty. Turn your negative energy draining thoughts into positive and empowering thoughts.

• Eliminate old habits, which cause disturbances in small matters of your daily life. Protect yourself from negative and stressful influences.

• Live methodical life with new thoughts. For that, you don't have to change your values and loyalties. Along with the change in the life, break your stubbornness, ego, obstinacy and old traditional thinking.

• Introspect daily life schedule peacefully, engage yourself in utilizing wonders of universe, beauty of life, importance of nature and every moment you have.

• Walk in fresh air; enjoy walking on green grass ground in the early morning, observe the colours of the rainbows, the flowers with soft leaves, groups of black bees, singing birds and dancing peacock, watch the stars in the blue sky; watch the ocean with jumping, undulating black water.

• Be optimistic. Believe in yourself. Be sure to breathe. And let a little stress motivate you into positive action to reach your goals. Interact with others & participate regularly in activities for relaxation and fun.

• Strengthen your power, capacity and mental abilities by practicing Yogic Kriyas such as Yogasanas, Pranayama, Shavasana, Trataka, Yoga nidra and Mediation regularly.

• As the time passes gradually you will be of a stronger will power, stressless, more comfortable and happier. You will become light minded; as calm & pleasant as a beautiful morning after heavy rains. You will obtain the joy of internal and eternal kingdom in place of the stress.


Stress is not unmanageable. It is related to the understanding of life. It is essential to understand ourselves. We can interpret the condition, which has arisen, from different angles. It is said in the Bible that you should construct your house by collecting the stones, which are thrown on you. You are the key. You have a choice to turn the key clockwise or anticlockwise, that is to lock or unlock. That is the only art of living. By honest efforts, continuous awareness and learning, we can eliminate old habits which cause disturbances in small matters of our daily life. We can live methodical life with new thoughts.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti