Reaction Paper







Stress is one of the ways that people deal with the different obstacles that they run into in their day-to-day lives. In his article, Swami Sivananda argues that stress has survival value for human beings as it has helped people overcome physical threats in the past (48). However, most of those physical threats no longer affect humans meaning that the stress affects us in different ways as we deal with other kinds of problems. Issues such as emotional distress, unemployment and angry confrontations can increase the stress levels in our bodies leading to higher blood pressure, a faster heart rate and tension in our muscles (Sivananda 49). Sivananda argues that the harm of this stress can cause health complications, which can affect our lives further (49). One way of dealing with the stress problems is by using yoga. Using yoga to reduce stress can help a person improve their breathing techniques and relax more. I found that the yogic breathing techniques taught by Sivananda are effective ways of dealing with the stresses I encounter in my daily activities.

Yoga as a Relaxation Technique

Sivananda starts his article by establishing the link between stress and disease (48). He claims that the average person encounters many stressful situations in their lives. These situations elevate the levels of hormones such as cortisone in our bodies and affect our heart rates, blood pressures and relaxation levels. Additionally, the increase in certain hormones within our bodies can contribute to the development of diseases such as diabetes, depression and osteoporosis. Because of this, it is important for people to learn how to manage their stress levels and relax more as they engage in their daily activities (Sivananda 50). For Sivananda, yoga is one of the best ways to manage the stress levels in a person’s body (51).

I attempted five different experiential exercises that Sivananda described in his article. Each of these exercises focused on a different breathing technique aimed at improving a wide range of issues concerning the state of my body and my mind. As he guides the reader through the exercises, Sivananda makes sure that he introduces the relevant concepts and explains the purpose behind the exercise. The benefit of doing this is that I was able to understand my actions and the targets that I was aiming for. However, one issue I had with the exercises is that Sivananda made them look too easy. In his theoretical descriptions, he constantly reminded the reader to stay focused and avoid falling asleep (Sivananda 54). I found this to be a particularly big problem when I was attempting meditation on the breath. According to the exercise, I was required to focus only on my breathing. Doing so turned out to be an arduous task. Anytime I tried to focus only on my breathing, I started to drift away and fall asleep. Alternatively, my attempts to remain focused on the task resulted in straying thoughts, which ultimately made the exercise counterproductive.

Despite the difficulties that I experienced while attempting the exercises, my engagement in the activities led me to believe that yoga actually helps to reduce the stress in our bodies. The belly breathing and guided relaxation exercises were particularly helpful in helping me lower my stress levels. The guided relaxation technique was supposed to help me relax while also uplifting my spirits. I found this to be the easiest of the exercises because I could do it anywhere and the tasks are easy to focus on. When I tried guided relaxation I felt the muscles in my body slowly ease up. The feeling flowed down my body, starting from shoulders and moving right through my legs. The emotional and mental effects were immense. Almost immediately after the exercise, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me, complete with the emotional and mental burden. The effects of the belly breathing exercise were even more noticeable because I undertook the exercise in the middle of a tiring day. As I undertook the exercise, I could feel the air I breathe move through my body, as it started from my nostrils and went into my belly. After the exercise, I felt my mind freshen up. It became easier to focus on what I was doing, and the weight of the stress felt much lighter.


After engaging myself in several of Sivananda’s breathing and relaxation exercises, I came to realize that yoga is effective in relieving stress. Some of the exercises were difficult but the ones that worked had an overwhelming effect in terms of relaxation. Carrying out the exercises made it easier for me to focus on my work and deal with my daily stresses. Additionally, the relaxing effects of the yoga put me in a lighter mood and helped me feel happier as I went along my business.


Work Cited

Sivananda, Swami. “Yoga for Stress Relief.” Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing. Ed. Timothy B McCall. New York: Bantam Books, 2007. 48-69. Print.

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