A small dose of stress can be a good thing in the short term because it allows us to meet challenges effectively and perform our best. The stress hormone, cortisol, helps us focus and solve problems swiftly. However, chronic stress can affect one’s body negatively.
Chronic stress is a major culprit in many ailments today. According to a study, those who work or live in a stressful environment have a higher chance of developing adverse health conditions.
The study further indicates that stress can affect the immune system; brain and cardiac function; and trigger gastrointestinal complications. Given the negative role stress plays in causing various health conditions, the researchers conclude the necessity of stress-reducing interventions as part of treatment protocols. Specifically, stress-induced ailments are unlikely to go away without the root cause being addressed. That is where homeopathy and yoga join hands.
Both homeopathy and yoga conceptualise the existence of a vital or essential force that determines the state of health of an individual at the mental, physical and spiritual levels.
The vital force
According to Dr Dheeraj Devgan, homeopathic consultant at Happy Homeopathy Clinic, Firozpur, the vital force helps in maintaining the harmony of various functions in our body. It allows our body to adapt to the environment.
Dr Devgan adds that the force also lets our body face day-to-day physical and mental challenges with ease. However, this force cannot tackle constant and enormous stress over long periods of time. That is when the vital force in our body gets disturbed leading to various health conditions.
A homeopath considers a person’s physical, mental, social, and environmental aspects before prescribing medicines. As such, stressors are revealed during this detailed history taking. The homeopath then addresses these stressors with homeopathic medicines, as well as lifestyle changes, to bring back the vital force to its healthy balanced state.
In yoga, this energy is called prana. There needs to be a constant flow of prana through the channels in our body called nadi for a healthy life. Shubham Sharma, Yoga Therapist, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, says “if you keep your breath (prana) under control, your mind will also be under control.”
One of the main ways to have control over breath is through pranayama.
Sharma says, “Pranayama is a yogic breathing exercise that will calm the mind. It helps cleanse the nadi for the free movement of prana in our body.”
With the free-flowing prana, your capacity to face the day-to-day stress increases.
A study published in the International Journal of Yoga in 2020, says that pranayama promotes physical well-being, improves lung and cognitive capacities, and reduces blood pressure and anxiety.
Today, children face stress as much as adults do. Introducing them to such breathing techniques will help them calm their mind and cope well in stressful situations.
Slow and steady
A 2022 research study with 585 primary school students aged 7 to 12 years revealed that the stress and anxiety they experienced were significantly reduced by practicing a slow and steady breathing technique. Further, the study said that conscious and slow breathing is an excellent emotional strategy to cope with challenging situations.
Additionally, stress not only affects our well-being but also that of the next generation. A recent study on mice indicates that stress in a pregnant mother negatively impacts the gut microbiota of the offspring.
We need to preserve this energy – prana or vital force — in the body for a healthy life. Today, a holistic approach is needed to deal with modern-day issues such as stress, sleep difficulties and mental and physical exhaustion. We do not have much control over our stressors, but we can control our breathing through exercises like pranayama and cope with stress in a way that it does not affect our physical, mental, and social wellbeing. “Apart from pranayama, eating sattvic food, fresh organic fruits and spending time with nature also helps maintain the prana force in our body,” says Sharma.
THE FEEDBACK AND BRIEF ABOUT HOMEOPATHY IS VERY GOOD