Combat Yoga Fitness by Cliff C. Smith - HTML preview

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Chapter 1

Stress can be overwhelming when it exceeds a person‟s threshold for tension. Chronic stress not only weakens the immune system, but it also affects our sleep and our ability to interact and function normally in society.

People facing enormous stress eventually fall apart and find themselves irritable, angry and unable to cope with even small problems. Stressful situations often become unmanageable and blown out of proportion.

Many people cope with acute and chronic states of stress by turning to alcohol, using drugs, overeating and taking OTC sleep aid products. This is known as negative coping patterns. In time, the problem only gets worse and may lead to full blown general anxiety disorder, panic attacks and uncontrollable horror, as in PTSD.

For those people who seek medical attention and are diagnosed with GAD, PD or PTSD, medications are often prescribed to control the anxiety and block the panic attacks. If you suffer from one of these disorders, you are probably aware of the numbing effects that many of these medications have over the long term, especially the benzodiazepine class of minor tranquilizers, which is often prescribed for controlling anxiety and panic attacks. With long term use, the mind becomes dull, along with a deterioration of motor skills and coordination.

While many of these drugs effectively control the symptoms of anxiety and panic, none of them address the root cause of the problem.

Unfortunately, there is no herbal medication that I‟m aware of that is potent enough for the long term management of people suffering from GAD, PD or PTSD. However, herbs can be used effectively in combination with yoga, meditation and other holistic modalities to manage and, in some cases, reverse the negative effects of these debilitating conditions.




In ayurveda, which is the healing branch of yoga, psychological turmoil that manifests as anxiety or panic is viewed as undigested experience, which the mind has been unable to process and that ultimately affects the heart center. This is why so many people suffering from anxiety -

or panic attacks - imagine that they are experiencing a heart attack, because their heart chakra is out of step, resulting in imbalance.

In essence, this undigested experience is trauma that often manifests as full blown anxiety and panic. By using the Combat Yoga Fitness techniques in this book, you‟ll be able to identify and target that trauma and create a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit. Moreover, by transforming undigested experience, the mind and heart can heal from the debilitating effects of unresolved trauma.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were to fall and fracture your arm, it would likely require physical therapy in order to work out the trauma and to regain the arm‟s full range of motion. Similarly, anxiety and panic is an emotional trauma that affects our mental and physical state of well being, despite there being no broken bones. Yet, it too requires a form of therapy to resolve itself, otherwise one cannot heal and the trauma will continue It is through lifestyle changes, self-awareness and self-acceptance that we can bring about the deep healing of personal trauma, which goes to the root of the cause, rather than taking a pill to mask the symptom only to discover that when the medication wears off, you‟re right back where you started.

People working in stressful jobs like the military and law enforcement are usually familiar with the stress response:

Heart rate increases

Blood pressure increases

Rate of breathing increases

Sweat production increases

Glucose levels increases

Digestive secretions are reduced




What they‟re unfamiliar with, however, is the relaxation response, a term coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard professor: Heart rate is reduced

Blood pressure is reduced

Rate of breathing decreases

Sweat production decreases

Glucose levels are stabilized

Digestive secretions are increased

In the case of the stress response, the sympathetic nervous system is in full swing; whereas in the relaxation response, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, creating a relaxed state of well being.

Through the application of Combat Yoga Fitness techniques, you will learn how to tap into the relaxation response, at will, so you can control situations giving rise to anxiety or panic.

Realistically, for most people serving in the military and law enforcement, the stress response has become an all too familiar way of life. Hence, negative coping patterns, such as turning to alcohol, drugs and overeating often take hold. However, they only serve to further exacerbate the underlying problem, which is the inability to relax and release trauma.

One of the principles of naturopathy is that we all have the power of self-healing. When we tap into it, we are able to transform our lives for the better. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you suffer from a stress related disorder. It is a part of each person‟s unique journey and karma. People that have overcome personal setbacks and illness tend to be much stronger and seem to develop a greater sense of purpose in life. A good example would be world cyclist champion, Lance Armstrong.




If you apply the techniques in this program and work at it daily, I promise that you‟ll discover that there is light at the end of the tunnel. When I was teaching a stress reduction class at a fitness club, one of the students that attended it regularly was a Marine that had served in a number of conflict areas. One day he came up to me and thanked me for teaching the class, since it had helped him enormously with relaxing and managing his stress.

His words are what inspired me to write this book, as I felt there was a definite need for a program like this.




Stress Management