Burst the stress

Burst the stress

Are you a hardcore yoga practitioner, especially the more physical oriented vinyasa, power, Ashtanga, hot yoga etc?

Are you a hardcore yoga practitioner, especially the more physical oriented vinyasa, power, Ashtanga, hot yoga etc?

Do you swear by healthy eating and extra careful to take the right diet?
And still, do you feel you are not getting the desired results, what your practice should bring?
Most probably, what is lacking is one more major component of a good health and that is “REST”.

Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system is in charge of unconscious bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure and digestion. It's split into two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. The sympathetic system kicks in when you're under stress – your heart rate and blood pressure shoot up, your breathing accelerates and your digestion grinds to a halt. Often called the "rest and digest" system, the parasympathetic division turns off the stress response, returning your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure to normal.

Stress Response
For your cavewoman ancestors, stress likely meant an immediate physical threat. The sympathetic nervous system is well-suited to respond to short-term emergencies, hence its nickname, the "fight or flight" system. Today, however, you may face stressful situations that are not so quickly resolved: conflicts with your boss, financial worries, even traffic jams. When stress becomes a way of life, your sympathetic nervous system doesn't get the rest it should, which can contribute to health problems like diabetes, depression, autoimmune diseases, heart attacks and strokes.

Health Benefits
By turning off the sympathetic system and turning on the parasympathetic, yoga gives your heart and circulatory system a break. Yoga practice lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. It improves heart rate variability, a marker of cardiovascular health and a sign of increased parasympathetic activity. Stress plays a role in insulin resistance and diabetes – another risk factor for heart disease. Yoga lowers blood glucose levels and reduces your risk of diabetes.

Other Benefits
Yoga has been shown to alleviate job stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. It can help with migraine headaches, as well. There are several theories about how yoga exerts its calming influence on the parasympathetic system.

Some researchers point to yoga's emphasis on slow, deep breathing, which stimulates the parasympathetic system. Others credit its focus on mindfulness and re-training the brain. Yoga poses that massage your body and relaxes your muscles also help stimulate the parasympathetic system.
But if all this is not happening with your yoga practice, it is time we gave a thought to our practice.

We should make sure that we have a balanced practice and the yin and the yang, the solar and the lunar energies are present in our practice. For example, after a good sweaty and heating vinyasa practice makes sure it is balanced by a proper savasana. Another way to do this is if we practice yoga for five days, out of those four days if we have a strong physical muscular practice maybe the fifth day we can complement with a restorative/yin practice or a slow Hatha practice with a lot of breathing.

The idea is to bring a beautiful balance between the two parts of the nervous system, the SYMPATHETIC and the PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM so that a beautiful HOMEOSTASIS (internal harmony) is maintained in the body.

By: Pratibha Agarwal
The writer is Founder, Director and Instructor at Anahata Yoga Zone.

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