Relaxation Therapies – Part 1

Depression, stress and mental fatigue are quite often our response to our present conflict between material pressures and spiritual aspirations.
Sudden or constant stress can induce mental, physical and emotional disorders.  Research has shown that around 12 million adults see doctors for mental health problems each year. Most of these suffer from anxiety and depression, much of it stress-related.
Disorders like dizzy spells, anxiety, tension, sleeplessness, nervousness, muscle cramps; chronic fatigue syndrome, hyperventilation or choking sensation, chest pain or pressure, headaches, ulcers, indigestion, constipation, IBS, migraines, palpitations, panic attacks, heart attack and coronary thrombosis and other chronic health problems can be a result of long term stress.
There are exceptionally effective holistic methods to tackle stress instead of the general prescribed drugs, which again cause the body stress due to their side effects. Some of the holistic methods are age-old techniques and some are new avatars of the modern world.
The Traditional Methods
The traditional methods are the oldest form of structured medicine, that is, a medicine that has an underlying philosophy and set of principles by which it is practiced. The principles and philosophy of Traditional Methods always deal with natural laws, because all life is subject to these natural laws and ill-health is usually due to an abnormal imbalance, either within an organism, or of the organism with its environment. Therefore Traditional Healers do not only work at correcting the internal imbalances through which disease can manifests in an individual, but also work at re-establishing an individual’s harmony with their environment and their relationship with the natural cycles to which all life is subject. When there is harmony stress fades away.
Reflexology is a non-invasive treatment performed on the feet and sometimes on the hands. This holistic therapy uses manipulation with pressure of varying degrees. Reflexology focuses on areas of the feet that correspond with all body parts. The pressure applied during reflexology stimulates the movement of energy along the pathways, through the use of a specific finger and thumb massage technique. By re-balancing the body and emotions, reflexology is a countermeasure to stress and induces relaxation.
Yoga means "to unite." It’s the holistic approach to all aspects of life: physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga views the person as a whole; as a unique combination of body, mind and soul, and its techniques maintain that body-mind-soul harmony. Its quiet, precise movements focus your mind less on your busy day and more on the moment as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration. Yoga also offers many breathing skills for stress. These yogic breathing techniques are termed as ‘pranayama’. Yogic meditation has proved helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, improving concentration and creativity besides bringing relief from stress-induced ailments.
The yoga postures (asana), breathing (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) create increased body awareness, release of muscular tension and increased coordination between mind-and body. It helps in better management of stress and ensures an overall feeling of well being.
Massage is an ancient healing art, which works to calm and relax the body through which mental anxiety is lessened. Under stress muscles are over-worked, and the body shows many weakening symptoms such as soreness, stiffness, and even muscle spasms. Heightened stress responses accumulate lactic acid in the muscle and waste air inside the body.
 Specific massage techniques, using hands, forearms, elbows, or even feet are applied to a patient’s body for loosening the muscles and to locate areas of tension and other soft-tissue problems.
Acupressure is the needle-less variation of the Chinese healing system which believes that when accupoints or meridians or energy pathways become blocked or congested, a person experiences pains or discomfort on a physical level. On emotional or mental level one may become frustrated or irritable, vulnerable, desperate, and indecisive about life.

In acupressure, practitioners use deep but gentle finger pressure on specific acupoints to release the blocked energy and to facilitate its smooth flow. In effect, this allows your body/mind to relax. As your body/mind relaxes, you experience less discomfort and stress in addition to an elevated sense of well being.
Acupressure is, perhaps, the most convenient as well as a skillful healing art for stress.
Acupuncture is based on the concept of maintaining balance and harmony within the body by facilitating the flow of life energy in it, so when chi/Qi (life energy) inside the body becomes stagnant and congested, all kinds of mental and physical illness follow. In order to restore chi distribution, needles are inserted into acupoints along the meridians of the body.
A large number of neurological and musculoskeletal disorders induced by stress can be successfully treated by acupuncture. The principle here is to clear the blocked energy in the muscles and nerve channels, as well as facilitating the flow of fresh energy in them. This ensures relaxation of muscle and mind, and relief from stress and tensions.