One researcher and doctor explains why. Dr. Pamela Peeke, an expert in nutrition and health, Medical Director for the National Women’s Resource Center, has found that toxic stress and fat are silent but deadly killers. Dr. Peeke associates this “toxic” level of stress with excessive, harmful levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This leads to an increased risk of suffering from disorders from heart disease, diabetes as well as premature aging.
Yoga and exercise encourages the brain to release chemicals called endorphins, which help to inhibit cortisol secretions, and bring levels down to a point where they are no longer toxic. She has found that yoga can be used as a lifesaving skill to fight toxic stress and fat.
Dr. Peeke recommends that mind, body, spirit therapies such as yoga should form an integral part of your routine. Yoga helps maintain and build flexibility and balance, reduce stress, and meditation can alter the pattern of the brain waves and help practitioners reach a relaxed state of being.
Stress affects everyone at some stage in their lives. For some, it can be an ongoing problem. Dr. Peeke identified “toxic stress” as “any stress that is associated with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and defeat”. She gives the example of being stuck in traffic. “Being centered, you wouldn’t let a bunch of traffic get to you. If someone else was in the same traffic and experiencing real rage, saying this only happens to me, I have a bad life-that is toxic stress”.
I tell people Dr. Peeke goes on to say that if they are not doing something like yoga, even it it’s a little here and there, then they are fools because yoga by definition allows you to give the mind and body exercises that are doable, reachable and achievable. Lastly, “we have found that yoga will bring down cortisol levels not only during practice but that this will continue throughout the rest of the day. That is very hot science. If you have what I call sustained endorphin release that’s awesome-who wouldn’t want to do that?