Does yoga help with stress?

“How come you’re stressed? You do so much yoga”.

stressI’ve just been signed off work for a week for stress and my friend clearly found this slightly paradoxical, even a little amusing which is the prerogative of old friends! I don’t think she was being massively critical, but like a lot of us (yogis and non yogis alike) she had slipped into seeing yoga as some panacea for the modern world and its inevitable stresses.

But that’s a big ask of any practice, even one as powerful as I think yoga can be. The visit to my GP was really interesting in this respect. I offered her a very clinical summary of my physical and mental state — the result of practicing non-attachment perhaps! And her take on my current condition: I’ve been doing everything right to look after myself and if I hadn’t been I wouldn’t have coped so well for so long. She looked almost impressed (which is a scary expression to observe in one’s doctor!). So for me that’s a pretty good endorsement of the practice of yoga. After all this is the first time a doctor has ever told me that I’m looking after myself well — usually they tut-tut sternly at me. She even noted on my formal medical record ‘yoga and mindfulness techniques’ as one of the interventions I’ve been using to support myself!

I clearly need this week away from work and my professional responsibilities. And I’m not stressed about being stressed, as I would have been in the past I think. I’m not feeling guilty, I’m not ashamed, and I’m actually looking forward to a clinically-approved bit of me-time. So yoga might not stop me getting stressed but I reckon it goes a long way.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some relaxing to do. coffee and pastry.JPG