The Yoga Lunchbox
By Swami Karma Karuna, Anahata yoga retreatWhat is resilience?It doesn't matter who we are, the state of the bank balance or the country in which we live; twists and turns in life, deaths, jobs, relationship strains, natural disasters and traumas can affect us all. Change influences each of us differently, altering our biochemistry, thoughts and […]

Meditation at Anahata Yoga Retreat

By Swami Karma Karuna, Anahata yoga retreat

What is resilience?

It doesn't matter who we are, the state of the bank balance or the country in which we live; twists and turns in life, deaths, jobs, relationship strains, natural disasters and traumas can affect us all. Change influences each of us differently, altering our biochemistry, thoughts and emotions. Resilience is our ability to come back to our center, bounce back from adversity, and respond to a challenge creatively.

The negative aspects of life are not always pleasant, but we have the ability to increase our ability to deal with them through yogic techniques. Each of us arrives at the table of life with a different capacity to face challenges, depending on our inner resources, our upbringing, our upbringing, our culture, etc. This is why two people facing the same situation can handle it in a very different way. While we cannot control everything that is going on, we can learn to navigate life better and empower ourselves with conscious action and thought. Like going to the gym and building muscle, resilience is a type of muscle that we need to train in.

Scientists speak of brain plasticity. The current sentence is'neurons that connect together, fire together ”. This means that whatever we do, think or feel on a regular basis, positive or negative, makes it easier for the brain and nervous system to do it the next time around. For example, if we were taught at a young age to run away from adversity, get angry, or stop when faced with difficulties, this is usually the pattern we will repeat as adults. By using yogic tools, we can change our responses and set up positive role models that will support us better.


Stress and stress resistance

The stress response in which the “fly, fly, freeze” arm of the nervous system is stimulated is the body's natural way of helping us survive and is intended for emergencies. When this threat is gone, the body is supposed to enter the relaxation response, for restoration and recovery. However, in modern times there are a host of daily stressors and often insufficient recovery time, which reduces our ability to handle real emergencies.

Our body's response to stressors in itself can be a healthy part of life. Some stresses, especially if we have a positive relationship with it, can be motivating and integral to increasing resilience. However, we need to know how to deal with stressful inputs and gradually increase our resilience so that we don't sweat the little things. It is also important to improve our ability to recover faster in the event of an imbalance. It's not about avoiding stress altogether, but rather about training ourselves to deal with it.

Relaxation response and vagus nerve

Increasing our vagal tone, which is linked to the relaxation response is an important part of this puzzle. The vagus nerve is like an information highway carrying a large amount of information between every organ in our chest, abdomen, and detox organs to / from our brain. When stress hormones are triggered, the vagus nerve is the one that tells the body and organs to calm down. It is associated with the functions of relaxation, digestion and repair. It also tells the brain what is going on in the gut and the microbiome.

Strengthening vagal tone is essential for increasing resilience as it gives us the ability to relax more quickly after stress. When we are relaxed, we can make choices. When we are in “fight and flight” all the energy goes to survival. This is where yoga and meditation practices become essential.


Hatha Yoga and resilience

Hatha Yoga supports the purification, strengthening and flexibility of muscles and joints, toning of organs and glands, balancing the nervous system and has many other benefits. When the physical body is functioning optimally, there are more resources to rely on when faced with challenges. By stretching and strengthening a little more in a pose but staying present and relaxed, we practice stimulation of an area or system and then return to homeostasis or balance. The more we do this, the faster our recovery time, which will continue in our daily life.

We also train the mind because it is often the resistance or aversion of a posture that stops our ability. There is a difference between us stretching out to develop our abilities and pain to the point of hurting us. You always have to work within your capabilities and listen within, however, there is also value in meeting your advantage. If we learn to read our body's signs, it can give us important information. The process can also support the release of stored trauma or unconscious protective armor in the body.

Breath and resilience

Breathing is another key to building resilience and one of the fastest ways to trigger the relaxation response. It's free, accompanies you everywhere and the more you do it, the more accessible it is! Although an ancient practice, in modern times diaphragmatic breathing has become a popular tool for toning the vagus nerve. The breath continues without consciousness, but it is also under conscious control. There is the ability to lengthen, manipulate, and modify breathing, thus providing a direct means of controlling physiological responses, emotions, energy, and the mind.

For example, the heating practices initially activate the system which helps strengthen our ability to handle heat and stimulation and when the abdomen is used the practices also have a direct influence on the vagal nerve, which passes through the system. digestive, ultimately promoting relaxation. Ujjayi breathing influences the vagal tone by the slight constriction of the throat where the vagus nerve also passes. Bhramari or bee buzz or even AUM chanting are all powerful vagus nerve toners, due to the use of vocal cords and also vibration.

Yoga Nidra, meditation and resilience

From a yogic point of view, one area of ​​great importance is learning to manage our perceptions of stressors and gradually training ourselves to be the master of our responses, which involves breaking out of unconscious `` combat '' reactions. and flight '' driven by our emotions and primitives. areas of the brain to a more thoughtful and conscious approach, where we may experience fear for example, but we can rationalize that it is not a life and death situation.

Mindfulness-based meditation practices like Antar Mouna and Yoga Nidra train us to become the witness so that we can read the physical signs of our body and mind and know what to do to return to balance. For example, when we go into a stress response, there are signs in the body like faster breathing, a higher heart rate, or a repetitive negative thought loop. As we learn to observe changes in body and mind, we may put on a `` stress hack '' like mindful breathing, mantra, hum, soothing posture, gratitude, a laugh or a meditation while walking.

The practice of Yoga Nidra is also effective in building resilience. Each component of the practice scientifically and systematically balances the autonomic nervous system. Yoga Nidra works by modifying the neuronal response to stress, creating somatic conditions opposite to those induced by sympathetic “fight and flight” overactivity. The body's systems and organs reach deep physiological rest and regenerative mechanisms are activated. (Saraswati, S, 1990, p. 91).

The step of Yoga Nidra which involves awareness of the `` parts of the body '' induces physical relaxation and clears the nerve pathways to the brain, relaxing the sensorimotor surface of the brain, the pairing of opposites works on the brain. The hypothalamus, limbic system and amygdala regions all relate to unconscious emotional and autonomic experiences. The opposites help create a homeostatic balance and evolve the brain to a point where involuntary functions come under our conscious control. It also lowers blood pressure and circulating stress hormones, and alters brain wave patterns.

If we do yogic practices regularly, then when we need them to support us in the face of difficulties, they are more accessible. The more we use them, the easier it becomes. In this way, we are building new neural circuits and strengthening many important qualities that lead to greater resilience. Over time, we acquire more skills, so that when difficulties arise we have a greater ability to face them consciously and even to actively use life's challenges to develop, grow and transform ourselves.


  • Transactional stress image given by Maarten A. Immink PhD
  • Bushan, S., (2001). Yoga Nidra: its applications and benefits. Bihar Yoga Magazine:
  • Saraswati, S. (2006). Yoga Nidra. (6e editing). Munger, India: Bihar School of Yoga.
  • Saraswati, S. (1990). Yogic stress management. Munger, India: Bihar School of Yoga.
  • Saraswati, S. (2008). Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (4th ed.). Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust.
  • Serber, E. (2000). Managing Stress Through Yoga, International Journal of Yoga Therapy, No. 10.
  • Sharma, N. (2014). Yoga as an alternative and complementary approach to stress management: a systematic review. Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, January; 19 (1): 59-67.

Swami Karma Karuna Saraswati is an engaging and intuitive yoga and meditation teacher, inspirational speaker, writer and yoga therapist with 30 years of experience. She is an Education Provider of Yoga Alliance, a Principal Teacher of Yoga New Zealand and Co-Founder and Director of Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand. Swami Karma Karuna travels the world, conducts workshops and retreats, trains yoga teachers and offers therapy sessions. She is passionate about sharing an authentic and down to earth approach, combining ancient practices with a touch of psychology and brain science aimed at motivating people to live their yoga here and now.

How-to guides, online yoga and resilience classes, Yoga Nidra teacher training and information about online therapy sessions available at

Facebook: Karma Karuna Saraswati

Video link:

Everyone seems to be a yogi these days, from your BFF to your co-worker to your aunt—heck, even dogs and goats are getting their zen on. But if you have yet to attempt Warrior II or Mountain Pose, taking your first yoga class can be a little intimidating. What if your hands sweat and you fall off the mat ? What if you hate it ? What if you can’t do a single. damn. pose ?

Okay, rewind a second—there’s a reason so many people have hopped on a mat over the past few years. ' Yoga is a non-judgmental practice, ' says Claire Ewing, certified yoga instructor and studio digital directeur for CorePower Yoga. It’s is a totally accessible way to unwind and break a sweat, so there’s nothing to worry about before checking out a class.

But to help you feel a little more comfortable before you say your first ' om ' or ' namaste, ' Ewing has some yoga tips to answer all those questions floating around your head.

When in doubt, Ewing says opt for a vinyasa flow chic, ' where you have the opportunity to explore the postures and fundamental principles of yoga. ' These are the genres of classes most of your friends probably do, and it’s a great form of yoga for beginners. But évidemment, it never hurts to check out a couple different variétés of classes to see what feels best to you.

' Definitely go for something breathable and easy to move in, ' says Ewing. ' You will work up a sweat, so consider wearing something with moisture-wicking abilities. ' Oh and FYI : Yoga is a no-shoes kind of workout, so don’t worry about sporting your best sneakers to chic.

Like with any workout, it’s totally a personal preference how much you fioul pre-yoga. But Ewing points out that yoga is a pretty intense workout, and fueling your body properly will help you get the most out of your practice. Keep it light, though, ' I usually start with a protein shake or bar knowing that the classes can physically take you in dynamic directions, ' says Ewing. ( A. k. a. don’t down that massive avo toast right before class. ) If you’re just having a small pre-workout snack, you can probably do that about 30 minutes beforehand; but wait a full one to two hours before working out after a meal.

She adds that hydrating beforehand is also key, especially if you ever do attempt a heated flow. ' Drink a full glass of water about two hours before class—that way you have something to sweat out and you will feel better during class. '

' Absolutely ! ' says Ewing. ' A regular yoga practice increases flexibility and strength in your groupes de muscles. It has you work your full range of motion in every joint of your body and build strong and long groupes de muscles. ' ( In fact, vinyasa yoga even made this list of the top calorie-burning workouts. )

This depends on the type of yoga chic you take—for example, a slow flow or hatha chic may require you to hold a pose for an extended period of time. But in vinyasa, ' it comes down to the intention of how the positionnement was designed, ' says Ewing. ' For example, balancing poses are held longer to benefit concentration and focus, while transition postures build strength while teaching fluidity in movement. '

For the most part, though, poses are held for three to five breaths during the first round to help them sink into your memory. Then they’re held for a single breath when you repeat the pose, to help amp up the cardio component of yoga.

Don’t stress ! No one expects you to master every pose your first go-round ( or really, ever—it’s a constant learning process ). Your yoga instructor should offer options for pose modifications, especially for the more challenging ones. ' Your breath is key in yoga, if you are losing sight of this, you may want to consider modifying or completely backing off, ' says Ewing. And don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for aide.

Also, try to avoid comparing yourself to the other yogis in the room—all bodies are unique, and have varied strengths and challenges. Plus, every time you step on the mat, it’s going to feel a little different, ' for both your body and your mind, ' says Ewing. ' If there is one thing you can take away from the classroom, it is learning how to modify and create a practice that is fit for you. '


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *