Chapter 2

Relaxed Like a Noodle: The Fine Art of Letting Go of Stress

In This Chapter

arrow Understanding and dealing with stress

arrow Relaxing the body through mental and physical exercises

Life in general — not merely modern life — is inherently stressful. But not all stress is bad for you. The question is whether that stress is helping you or hurting you.

Psychologists distinguish between distress and eustress (good stress). Yoga can help you minimize distress and maximize good, life-enhancing stress. For example, a creative challenge that stimulates your imagination and fires your enthusiasm but doesn’t cause you anxiety or lost sleep is a positive event. Even a joyous celebration is, strictly speaking, stressful, but the celebration isn’t the kind of stress that harms you — at least not in modest doses. On the other hand, doing nothing and feeling bored to tears is a form of negative stress.

In this chapter, you discover how you can control negative stress not only through various yogic relaxation techniques but also by cultivating appropriate attitudes and habits.

The Nature of Stress

Your body has evolved to handle episodes of physical stress that arise and then subside. The fight-or-flight response you experience when you’re in stressful situations helps you react to real threats ...

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