The Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system responds to environmental demands and helps us through changes and threats. Homeostasis is needed to put energy toward the important yet longer term projects of rest, repair and growth.
The sympathetic response, known as ‘fight or flight’ is effective and useful at times. It evolved to keep us safe and is a great way to increase our level of performance in a short-term act such as delivering a presentation or exercising. This response is an immediate and urgent one that draws our body’s energy away from ‘non-essential’ functions in that moment. Our heart rate and blood pressure increase while our immunity, fertility and digestion are put on hold.
The parasympathetic response is mediated by the vagus nerve and acts as a sort of psychological ‘brake pedal’. In this state we feel supported by safety and social connection. This is where our muscles can relax, blood circulation flows freely and our digestive system works effectively. When in this state, the breath naturally slows and becomes deeper but we can turn this on its head and use breath as a powerful tool to take us into the parasympathetic nervous system.
Today, many of us spend excess time in the sympathetic response as we perceive threatening situations for much of the day, for example, when driving, in a meeting, juggling family and work life and many more scenarios which are common in daily life. In turn we limit investment in long-term projects for our holistic health and will no doubt pay the price. Yoga is a system of neural exercises which support our capacity to respond to stress without getting ‘stuck’ in it and instead, return to a homeostatic balance.
Would you like to expand your knowledge in Anatomy and Physiology?
Finding out more about the body can give you this extraordinary opportunity to feel a richer sense of connection with your physical self, maybe even experiencing deep wonder and respect for how the different systems of the body work together. Yoga Anatomy is an important part of Yoga Unwrapped© 200 Hours Yoga Teacher Training Programme. Our next course starts this April 2022. Register your interest and find out more about our curriculum , guest teachers and early bird offer which runs until 28th February: www.heatheryoga.co.uk/teacher-training/