Yoga for reducing stress


For many of us, stress has become a normal part of our everyday life. We struggle and suffer our way through our day’s, burdened by financial pressures, relationship difficulties and overwhelming workloads, not to mention the stress caused by poor nutrition and overuse of stimulants such as coffee and sugar wreaking havoc on our nervous systems. Never before in history have we had so many comforts and conveniences but how many of us can truly say we feel peaceful, contented, happy and well?

Through the practice of yoga and study of the ancient texts, we begin to unearth our own answers, which were within all along. Through understanding the kosha’s, the five sheaths (layers to our being) we can begin to work through practices to unite our mind, body and spirit, creating a state of being where nothing is missing. You will find a brief introduction to the kosha’s below:

1. Annamaya kosha – the most obvious of the layers, this is our physical body or outer sheath. At this physical level we are nourished by the earth element by the food that we take in. Choose healthy and light – fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, organic where possible. Aim to drink at least 2L of pure water each day to flush the physical body of toxins. A daily yoga practice (even 10-15 minutes) will keep our muscles, tissues and organs healthy.

2. Pranamaya kosha – the second of the layers is our subtle/energy body, nourished by our breath. Prana is the life force that runs through our energy channels, of which there are 72,000 in the human body. Prana enters the body through our breath and through our asana’s (yoga postures) we can shift this energy through our muscles, tissues and organs. Governed by the water and fire elements, Prana can be enhanced by breathing practices such as Nadi Shodhana, Kapalbhati Kriya and Bhastrika pranayama.

3. Manomaya kosha – the mind/emotional sheath comprised of the air and ether elements is coloured by constantly changing thoughts and emotions. It is where we form our beliefs and opinions and where we can become stuck with unhelpful ways of thinking. Manomaya kosha is nourished by deep sleep which allows our mind to deeply rest. Another way is to practice mantra repetition where the mind can rest and renew from our thought processes. It’s also important to choose activities which uplift and inspire, energise and nurture you. A daily meditation practice (even 10-15 minutes) is essential to keeping your state of mind balanced, peaceful and calm.

4. Vijnanamaya Kosha – the wisdom layer comprising our intuition and intellect. This kosha is pure awareness, where we take a witness mindset. We take a step back from our ever changing emotions and psychological drama that we have created in our own minds and begin to observe ourselves from this steady viewpoint, allowing insight and clarity to enter. The more aware we are, the more we find ourselves experiencing deep peace as we free ourselves from the constant melodrama and unhelpful thoughts and actions that don’t serve us. A daily practice of yoga asana’s, pranayama and meditation is essential.

5. Anandamaya Kosha – the bliss body. The innermost layer to our being, Anandamaya is our true Self, it’s the soul behind the other layers comprised of unconditional love, compassion, peace and joy. It’s a sense of oneness and unity with all beings as we return to a blissful state of awareness. Being in touch with your bliss body gives you permission to experience true joy, contentment and happiness which comes from within. Your essence is innately blissful and by keeping your physical body light and healthy, your prana vital, your mind and emotions peaceful and calm and tapping into your own inner wisdom and guidance, you can return to this blissful state of being, free from the stresses of modern life.

We offer Zoom yoga classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm and small group studio classes will recommence in October. We look forward to seeing you on the mat.