How they work

This is a big question! And of course, the answer differs somewhat from therapy to therapy. But one way that many mind-body therapies impact the body is by reducing stress. So it is helpful to understand what stress is and the role it plays in health and wellbeing.

The role of stress

How does stress impact you?  Try this activity.

  1. Imagine the last time you felt incredible stress or anxiety. Perhaps you had an important meeting, and you missed your plane. Maybe you had a complicated presentation, and you despise public speaking. Or perhaps you underwent important medical testing, and were waiting for the phone to ring with results.

    How do you feel?  Consider your jaw, neck, breathing.
  2. Now stop. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Gently relax your shoulders, your neck, and your facial muscles.

    Now how do you feel? (If you want to continue relaxing, there are activities at the bottom of this page.)

What did you experience?

Most people report that right after imagining a stressful event, their pulse rate was high, their breathing was fast and shallow, and their jaw, neck, and other muscles were tight. Some report that they felt their stomach clenching.

After breathing deeply for only a few seconds, most people report that their pulse and breathing rate decreased and their muscles relaxed.