Success, Stress and Yoga


Take up one idea, make that one idea your life, think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
–Swami Vivekananda

Every individual is engaged in one or the other task or activity. Some complete it successfully while others leave in between. Why does it happen? Why some are successful and others are not? Why some are afraid of failure and others focus on the goal? Don’t you feel that the surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed? Why don’t you go confidently in the direction of your dreams, distinguish the relevant from irrelevant and live the life you have imagined? Do you feel that success is a state of mind; if you want success, make perseverance your bosom friend, caution your elder brother, hope your guardian genius and think of yourself as a success. Does it occur to you that the secret to success is consistency of purpose and true success lies in overcoming the fear of being unsuccessful?

In the words of TGL Iyer, ‘Your individuality is your sense of what you are. If you have a clear image of who you are, you will not allow yourself to be defined by labels. Do not defeat yourself by the job you do, the house you live in, the car you drive or the clothes you wear. Successful people believe their potential to succeed is dependent not on status or labels but their confidence where they want to go. Success begins with one person seeing an opportunity and working hard to turn that opportunity into success’.

Mary Lay Ash said, ‘When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity, you have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. It is far better to be exhausted from success than be rested from failure’. Success is not a destination, it is a journey.

Remember success is never final and failure never fatal. What counts is courage. Do not stare up the steps – step on the stairs. In the words of Aristotle, ‘the way to achieve success is first to have a definite, clear, practical ideal – a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your end – wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end’. To be successful think big and you will become big. Life is too short to be bitter. Believe that you will succeed and you will. Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life.

So to be successful you should:

i. Be willing to do the task, set the goals or objectives, get focused,

ii. have the knowledge and ability to do the task,

iii. have the ability to get on with people, to know their point of view and see things from their angle as well as from your own,

iv. see that tradition does not paralyze your mind,

v. listen rather than talk and

vi. make your attitude your ally and that will always help.

Remember once you stop learning, you start dying. So, learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow. In the process follow the beautiful words stated by Albert Einstein, ‘More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego’. Those who were successful in their lives, it was not easy for them. They passed through a lot of difficulties, hurdles, problems and stress.

The word ‘Stress’ was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as ‘the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change’. Have you played any string instrument like a sitar or guitar? If the strings are loose, the sound is dull and out of tune. If the string is too tight, it will break. It has to have the right level of tightness: neither too loose nor too tight. In other words, when an individual feels that he cannot cope with pressure, stress happens. It comes in various forms. It triggers physiological responses. It is a state of psychological and physiological imbalance resulting from the disparity between situational demand and the individual’s ability and motivation to meet those needs. These needs or demands can be related to fiances, work, job, relationships and other situations, but anything that poses real or perceived challenges or threatens a person’s well being can cause stress. Stress slows normal bodily functions, such as digestive and immune system. During stress the body changes in many ways like faster breathing, high blood pressure, high pulse rate, tense muscles, decline in immune activity, slow digestive system and loss of sleep. The American Psychological Association (APA) recognises three types of stress –

  • Acute Stress –
    It is short term stress normally due to the pressure of recent events. Short term stress causes headaches and upset stomach. It can be harmful, if repeated over a long period.
  • Episodic Acute Stress –
    An individual who worries too much constantly suffers from this type of stress. It may be due to too many commitments and poor organisation system. This type of stress causes high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Chronic Stress –
    This type of stress exists for a long period and is most harmful for an individual. It can continue unnoticed. It may lead to final breakdown resulting in suicide, heart attacks and violent actions.

Causes of Stress:-

Various causes of stress may be-

  • Illness
  • Mental health issues – depression, accumulated frustration, anxiety.
  • Past experinces
  • Lack of time
  • Shortage of funds
  • Issues related to employment/business
  • Retirement
  • Problems in relationships – marriage, divorce
  • Shifting home/residence
  • Problems in the family
  • Death in the family
  • Abortion or miscarriage
  • Pollution
  • Over crowding
  • Too much noise
  • First pregnancy
  • Fear of an accident while driving in crowded areas or heavy traffic
  • Uncertainty in life
  • Problems with neighbours
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD )

Symptoms of Stress:

Symptoms of stress may be physical or emotional. Physical symptoms may be stomach upset, sweating, sleep disorders, pain in the chest or back, pins and needles, fainting, cramps, obesity, nervous twitches, high blood pressure, headache, heart disease, muscular aches, low immunity against diseases, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. While emotional symptoms may be nail biting, sadness, fatigue, depression, anger, anxiety, issues related to concentration, forgetfulness, feeling of insecurity, social withdrawal, problems in relationships, eating too much, eating too little, frequent crying, sudden angry outbursts, irritation and restlessness.

Stress Management:

In stress management, it is the mind set of an individual which matters. The greatest weapon against stress is an individual’s ability to choose one thought over another. In times of great stress, it is always best to keep busy, to plough anger and energy into something positive or constructive. It’s not stress that kills an individual; it is his / her relation to it. If an individual adopts the right attitude he / she can convert negative stress into a positive one. Remember that stress does not come from what is going on in the individual’s life. It comes from his / her thoughts about what is going on in his / her life.

Yoga and meditation can be very useful to an individual suffering from stress. Yoga helps to manage stress because it heals the body and the mind, encourages us to develop correct attitudes and habits so that we have a good lifestyle, supported by healthy food, proper rest and relaxation and a sound way of working without becoming emotional about the ups and downs of success and failure. Jim Gaudette said. ‘The purpose of yoga is awareness, not perfected poses, or any kind of attainment’. Awareness from moment to moment requires quiet strength, flexibility and balance. A good yoga practice develops exactly these characteristics. There are five disciplines suggested by yoga to regulate an individual’s life. They ensure that an individual begins walking along the path of harmony in his/her life.

(1) Aahara or Food

Yoga is particular about food and advocates mitahara: the amount of food and the kind of food one should eat. It also suggests what an individual’s state of mind should be when he/she eats.

  • What should he/she eat? Healthy, nutritious, freshly cooked food is the best. Junk food is not considered appropriate as it does not help the body or the mind in any way.
  • How much should an individual eat? Half the stomach should contain food, one quarter should have water and the remaining quarter should be free for air. This will also help the free flow of all digestive juices. The capacity of the stomach will vary from person to person according to body weight and kind of work that he/she does.
  • How should an individual eat? Food should always be eaten with a sense of gratitude and the atmosphere should be relaxed when we eat. Food should be eaten at the place specially meant for it.

(2) Vihara or Relaxation/ Lesisure

There is a time for waking up, a time for getting ready, a time for school, for eating, for homework and for helping with household chores. There is also time for recreation and relaxation: for an individual to play, meet friends, go for a walk, listen to music or paint, or simply to daydream. Time for vihara or leisure time is very essential because it reduces the stress an individual faces every day. Both body and mind are recharged by vihara.

(3) Aachara or Conduct

Aachara is the correct conduct that must be followed both in an individual’s personal life and in interacting with others socially. It emerges from his/her habitual thoughts, emotions, values and attitudes.
If he/she is habitually lazy, then doing something quickly and immediately will irritate him. If he/she is usually untidy, then cleaning up is a very difficult task. If he/she tends to get irritated or angry very often, then he/she finds it very difficult to remain calm when reacting to someone who is rude.

(4) Vichara or Thought

As an individual thinks, so he/she becomes. That is a famous saying. If he/she always frowns, he/she will develop lines on his/her face that show him/her as a scowling person! If he/she smiles, then he/she appears happy.
Start examining your thoughts. See which of them are worthwhile and which are not worth keeping. Every day, we throw garbage out of our houses. Start collecting thoughts that you find are ‘garbage’ in your mind. You will find your mind and body becoming healthier if you throw out all the negative thoughts.

(5) Vyavahara or Behaviour/Actions

An individual’s behaviour is a reflection of all that goes on inside him/ – aahara, vihara, aachara and vichara. An individual’s behaviour must reveal the kind of person he/she is. The practice of yoga helps an individual to transform himself/herself not only into the person he/she wishes to be, but into the person he/she can ideally be.
The following Yogasanas can be very useful to minimize stress –

  • Malasana
  • Balasana
  • Halasana
  • Utttanasana
  • Shavasana
  • Sravangasana
  • Bhramari Pranayama
  • Surya Namaskara
  • Hastottanasana
  • Padahastasana
  • Trikonasana
  • Shashankasana
  • Ushtrasana
  • Bhujangasana
  • Matsyasana
  • Shirshasana
  • Bakasana
  • Hamsasana
  • Mayurasana

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us – Helen Keller

Reference : – Devika Kumar, Yoga : A Pathway to Health and Harmony, Srijan Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, 2017

Dr Upendra Kaushik, B Com (Hons), M Com, B Ed, Ph D, D Litt is in school education and administration since 1978. He is a well known educationist, consultant, mentor, trainer, motivator and institution strategist. He has authored 19 books and has rich experience in the field of Curriculum Development, Measurement and Evaluation, Development of Text Books and Instructional Materials. He has been a resource person for training programmes on Value Education, Consumer Education, Population and Development Education, General Management, Marketing Management, Capacity Building for Skill-Upgradation, and associated with CBSE, NIOS,CIE University of Delhi, etc. Since 1990, he has trained more than 2,000 entrepreneurs. He is the recipient of more than 65 accolades at the State, National and International level including ‘National Award to Teachers 2001’ instituted by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, ‘State Teacher’s Award 2002’ instituted by the Government of NCT, Delhi.
At present,

Dr Upendra Kaushik is Chairman, Governing Body, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vallabhram Mehta Public School, Vadodara; Member Governing Councils and Management Committees of a number of well-known schools of the country.