Yoga and the
What is the Parasympathetic Nervous System and why is it important?
There are two branches of the Autonomic Nervous System;
1. The Sympathetic Nervous System which elicits a flight or fight response in the body.
2. The Parasympathetic Nervous System which stimulates rest and repair through the body.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is responsible for digestion, respiration and heart rate and it restores the body back to a state of balance and calm. It controls homeostasis- the balanced maintenance of the body’s systems, which allows the body to rest and repair.
When we activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System through Yoga, certain changes take place, such as decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure, improved digestion, improved circulation and metabolism, and muscle relaxation. All of these changes are key for long-term good health and well-being.
By contrast, when we are stuck in the Sympathetic Nervous System (most people in the Western World), we are unable to solve or resolve stress in the body, and the subsequent release of hormones from the adrenals sends signals of the flight or fight mode and we remain in a stressed state.
If we are able to respond differently and stimulate the Parasympathetic Nervous System through Yoga, we are able to restore balance and counter the effects of our stressful lives.