Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Bit of Science Before We Play







I don't know about you, but as a young student I was much more interested in the arts and humanities than the sciences.  So I often spent my time in science class drawing, reading a novel in my lap, or daydreaming about what color I would dye my hair that weekend.


It was only in mid-life that I became excited and appreciative of what the sciences had to say.  I became more aware of research and writings in quantum physics that attempted to explain how thought (and what may be considered the non-physical) interfaced with the physical world (or matter).  


In the case of Restorative Yoga, science has also provided the research and data to suggest what the Yogis knew centuries ago:  That yoga postures are good medicine for the body, mind and spirit.  


But since everyone is different, discovering which postures facilitate the change you wish to see in your life can be tricky.  Below you will find a few basic science facts that are a good foundation from which we will formulate the right sequence for you in my upcoming weekend workshop in October.   


Restorative Yoga and A Few Ways It Supports Your Health and Ability to Change


We live in a stressful world, and our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) responds to stress by putting our bodies on high alert.   Our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is designed to counter the internal activation that is triggered by the SNS, and allow our bodies (and minds!) to recover.  


But quite often in our culture we never get the opportunity to really relax enough for the PNS to kick in.   When we are in the midst of change...or even thinking about change....this can certainly be the case.


If you will be joining me in October, we will learn how to help balance our Nervous System through the use of breath work, gentle active and restorative yoga sequences, and practicing Benson's Relaxation Response techniques.   (Please see my earlier posts for more details.)


So take a quick look at the diagram below to become familiar with just a few of the health benefits that igniting the PNS through Restorative Yoga can provide.  








Parasympathetic stimulation via Restorative Yoga postures encourages a relaxation response that can help to 
  • lower heart rate
  • lower blood pressure
  • lower cortisol levels
  • lower blood sugar levels
  • lower muscle tension
  • encourage peristalsis of the GI tract
  • increase immune function
  • increase digestive function
In short, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) help to return the body functions to baseline after they have been altered by sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation. In times of stress, the SNS prepares the body to respond. The PNS reverses these changes when the stress is reduced, provided the stressors are not too frequent, and the body is given the opportunity to recover.  
In addition, Restorative Yoga has the potential to impact emotional health by:
  • stabilizing mood
  • cultivating feelings of well being
  • increasing ability to process emotions 
  • promoting insight and perspective
  • improving problem solving abilities
  • facilitating ability to change and heal

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