CIA of your body…what the heck.
Did you know we have our very own Central Intelligence Agency in our Body?
It is our Nervous System.
Our nervous system controls the homeostasis in the body.
What does this really mean?
Sometimes I find examples help me understand what the heck is going on. Our bodies regulate themselves automatically for example our body to detects when our temperature is rising and begins to counteract the increase in temperature to bring the temperature back to homeostasis.
The nervous system is a complicated and intricate part of who we are and how we function.
It is a reminder of how truly AMAZING our bodies are and how they want to protect us.
My blog is not meant to give you all the details of the nervous system. First I don’t know all the details and it can feel overwhelming to gather so much information at once.
At this time I REALLY want to focus on the autonomic nervous system “ANS“.
The ANS is key for system wide communication between the body and the brain. It serves to both mobilize and restore the systems of the body. It monitors many bodily systems which include our cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, digestive and immune.
Our ANS is unique because it can assess, integrate and create a unified response for both mobilization and a return to restoration in order to regulate the system in responding to inner and outer stimuli.
This system is a control system that acts largely unconsciously to regulate the bodily functions. It is the primary mechanism in control of fight or flight response.
The ANS is broadly divided into two branches the sympathetic nervous system (“SNS”) and parasympathetic nervous system(“PNS”).
1. The SNS elicits a flight or fight response in the body.
2. The PNS stimulates rest and repair through the body. This is the branch we will be looking at as it relates to restorative yoga, rest and obtaining the feeling of peace.
These two branches are meant to work in balance when the sympathetic nervous system slows down the parasympathetic engages.
This happens in a perfect world. As we have reminded over and over again in 2020 we do not live in a perfect world.
Our autonomic nervous system does not always work in balance when we live in times of stress.
The SNS is responsible for mobilization of the systems body in order to mobilize and respond to outer stimuli such as stress and fear.
When the SNS is activated our system functions increase. For example our heart rate increases, our will body tense and we become alert. The activation of the SNA will triggers a flood of hormones to be released into the body such as adrenaline and cortisol.
The PNS is the counterpart to the mobilizing force of the SNS. When our bodies access the PNS it is seeking to reserve resources, rebuild energy and set the system ready for growth, healing and restoration. It is known as a place of rest and digest.
In restorative yoga we are looking at strengthening our relationship with the parasympathetic nervous system.
When you activate the PNS certain changes take places, such as decreased heart rate and muscle relaxation. All of these changes are designed to maintain long-term wellbeing. When you activate the PNS through a restorative yoga practice it is helping you reside in the PNS response for longer periods of time.
As I mentioned at the start our autonomic nervous system is mainly working unconsciously. So you may be asking how the heck can I hack my nervous system if it’s working without me even doing anything.
Well let me give you some tips!
The goal of meditation is to become more mindful and more to your thoughts as opposed to reacting to your thoughts. Meditation allows you to identify and become aware of your thoughts. You become the witness to the thoughts. This is in direct contract to reacting to outside world and creates an ability to optimize your thought process and react differently.
Several ways to practice mediation are breath awareness, reciting mantras, and positive self-talk.
Looking for a meditation to try follow the link MEDITATION TO ACTIVATE PNS. I have also created a journal prompt for you to check in with yourself before and after meditation download now Journal Prompt for Meditation PNS
“When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still.”
– Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Learning how to breath supports your nervous system. Most people suck in air using the muscles around their rib cage and chest. A more calming way to breathe is to use breathe with your diaphragm, also known as belly breathing. This kind of breathing helps you relax and control your heart rate.
Try an exploration. It can be accessed anywhere, while driving, laying in bed standing in line at the grocery store. Slowly draw in a conscious breath through your nose following it all the way to the base of your lungs and exhale through your nose as you follow the breath leave your body. Try taking it deeper into the abdomen and slow the breath and explore a little pause between the inhale and exhale. Once you have taken at least three rounds you will have activated the PNS.
3. Restorative Yoga
Restorative Yoga benefits the PNS and therefore is key to keeping us healthy. When we are unable to solve or resolve stress in the body we remain in a stressed state. If we are able to respond differently and stimulate the PNS we restore balance to the heart and breath rate and lower blood pressure.
With a regular and consistent practices of restorative yoga will help to strengthen the PNS.
The quality of surrendering into a restorative yoga pose is stimulating and supporting the PNS and naturally brings in peace. It awakens a happy and peaceful space within us. As we abide in restorative poses it produces the optimal environment for healing.
With the use of props in a restorative yoga practice it helps us to surrender where we may have been leading our lives from a place of stress and therefore relaxation has become harder to experience.
Let me know how it goes! I would love to hear from you.
Much love & peace,