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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yoga Myth #8: "Relaxation is a Waste of Time"

We are nearing the end of our series to break through the many myths of yoga including who can benefit. One of the attitudes that I feel more from men, sorry guys, though it is certainly a pervasive mentality is that relaxation is not "productive". In these fast times we have lost the art and forgotten the import of relaxation. Many of the activities in which we participate do not serve as relaxation but rather build stress in other areas. Ideas like "Work Hard, Play Hard" and "No Pain No Gain" contribute to the cultural bias against relaxation.

I had the privilege of participating in a Skills for Healing workshop with Dr. Rob Rutledge who is a Radiation Oncologist on the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He spoke to a group of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers about the evidence relating to the Relaxation Response. The medical community is now understanding and documenting the benefits of relaxation on dealing with stress and its many adverse affects on health.

The World Health Organization has defined stress as a global pandemic. Relaxation is a major step towards vaccinating yourself against the harmful effects of stress. Don't let our need to be "doing" all the time rob you of your health. Take time to relax alone and quiet without any distractions, including television, the Internet, reading, etc. Too often we engage with a mental distraction as a defense against stress but we do not elicit the Relaxation Response which allows us to release stress more deeply. According to Dr. Herbert Benson, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, "The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress... and the opposite of the fight or flight response."

Everyone needs to start taking action to promote their own mental and physical health and relaxation is an important element of any preventative health regimen. Find a yoga class if you can't make it to Beloved Yoga at the Milo Boathouse in Yarmouth, NS, learning to relax may just save your life.


Yogi Jayanta

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