The role of yoga in stress management

doctor yoga 2In an age of a highly dynamic and competitive world, man is exposed to all kinds of stressors that can affect him in all realms of life. Hans Selye first introduced the term stress into life science. The term stress is derived from the Latin word Stringere, which means “to be drawn tight.” Stress is a complex, dynamic process of interaction between a person and his or her life. Stress can affect one’s health, work performance, social life, and the relationship with family members. The stress response is a complex emotion that produces physiological changes to prepare us for fight-or-flight, to defend ourselves from the threat or flee from it. Eminent behavioral scientist Stephen Robbins defines stress as that which arises from an opportunity, demand, constraint, threat, or challenge, when the outcomes of the event are important and uncertain. Stress can also be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury. Hence we can say that stress is a silent killer, and prolonged exposure to stress may exert harmful effects on physical, psychological, and behavioral well-being of an individual. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 80% of workers experience job stress. Keeley and Harcourt in their study, “Occupational Stress: A Study of the New Zealand and Reserve Bank,” revealed that stress is caused by heavy work demands in the job itself, which the unskilled employee with little control over how the work is done, cannot adapt to or modify. Kulkarni, in an article “Burnout” published in Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, has said that the rapid change of the modern working life is associated with increasing demands of learning new skills, the need to adapt to new types of work, pressure of higher productivity and quality of work, time pressure, and hectic jobs. These factors are increasing stress among the workforce.

Key Point: Numerous studies have shown yoga to be effective in the management of stress, and yoga is increasingly accepted in the Western world. Patients of all ages, as well as doctors themselves, can manage stress through the practice of yoga.


One of the studies quoted that stress-related disorders evolve gradually through four recognizable stages. First, psychological changes such as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia arise, due to over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. In the second stage symptoms such as high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and increased intestinal motility surface. In the third stage, a more profound physical or biochemical imbalance...

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