It’s not what you might think! Your Autonomic Nervous System is working for you ‘behind the scenes ‘ all the time. It’s directing your breath, heartbeat, digestion, even skin temperature, whether you think about it or not. What does this have to with you and yoga??
Well, I’ve had some conversations recently about anxiety. We’ve ALL experienced anxiety-right? Before a public speaking engagement?Deciding how to bring up a difficult subject to a loved one? Those first few days at a new job? Walking into a room of strangers for a yoga class even!
But what about happy occasions? Celebrating a birthday with all your friends in an exotic location? Watching your favorite team come from behind and score the winning point? We’d call that EXCITEMENT right, not anxiety?
Well, in my experience (and others, I am hearing); the body doesn’t always know the difference and it can shift you into quite a shocking physiological state: a profuse sweat, an upset stomach or bowels, vomiting, and even a faint. (Ask me about my ‘falling out’ story. Oddly enough, I have photos!)
This is our ANS at work or, in some cases: HYPER AROUSAL (Yoga term: tamasic state.)
Our nervous system has 2 branches: the Sympathetic and ParaSympathetic. This system is located as nerve bundles in your spinal cord. Yoga is ALL about a healthy spine exactly because it houses this vital highway of nerve bundles. (healthy spine=healthy body-that’s another yoga story for another time)
The Sympathetic branch is directly connected to every major organ. It can dilate your pupils, speed your heart rate and breathing, pump you with adrenaline, setting your muscles ready for FIGHT or FLIGHT (Rajasic state.)
The Parasympathetic Branch is related to the vagus nerve and is responsible for bringing your body back into balance, into a state of equilibrium: REST, DIGEST, all is well and safe (Sattvic state.)
Yoga offers conscious breath work( PRANAYAMA) to help your body return to its natural state of balance.
Conscious is the operative word here. We can consciously manipulate and control our ANS through our breath work. Learning to properly and fully inhale and exhale sounds like a no brainer, but I hope you are curious enough to explore further and experience what yoga offers you.
The ANS is the foundation upon which your entire lived experience is built. Let’s work together toward that SATTVIC state of balance and equilibrium. Imagine the ability to respond rather than react.
Ck out my FB page as I occasionally toss in breathing practice instructions, all with specific goals: Balance, Energy, Calm, Toning, etc…
Better yet, try Yoga at the Schoolhouse!
Peace be with this place. Peace go before us. Peace be the law unto our experience, lifting us up to our higher selves.