Whether you’ve just started a beginners yoga class or have been practicing yoga for some time, you may have noticed the positive impact your practice has on your stress levels. So why is yoga so effective at reducing stress levels? Well, it has a lot to do with its ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Today, we’ll be looking at yoga’s unique ability to help the body repair and restore itself.
What is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)?
There are two branches of the autonomic nervous systems in the human body – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The sympathetic nervous system is in charge of our “fight or flight” response and, when activated, your body is ready for action with an elevated heart rate, muscles ready to move and slowed digestion. Back when we were cavemen, we needed this stress response to survive – it helped us escape life threatening situations. After the threat of danger passed, that’s when the PNS would kick in by slowing the body down and allowing it to rest and restore. Activating the PNS allows your heart rate to decrease, blood flow to the organs to increase, the muscles to relax, digestion to improve and hormones to be produced. The more time you can spend with your PNS activated, the healthier you are.
These days, we’re faced with far less life threatening situations but our stressful modern lives means that many of us are stuck on “fight or flight” mode which means our bodies aren’t given the chance to switch on our PNS. If you always feel like you’re stressed and anxious, it could be that your sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive.
Why does yoga help activate the PNS?
If you want to switch off fight or flight mode and engage your parasympathetic nervous system, yoga is a great place to start. During your yoga practice, you’ll learn to be conscious of your breath and breath is used to transition between poses. This simple act of mindfully breathing is often all it takes to activate the PNS and allow your body to transition into resting and repairing itself. Yoga also encourages you to be mindful – instead of thinking about what happened during your day or what you need to do tomorrow, you have the opportunity to focus on your own body and breath. As you move through different restorative poses, you’re taking the time to focus on your own self-care and allowing your PNS to do its work.
Here at Kaya Health Clubs, we’re passionate about providing an authentic yoga experience for our members. We offer a range of yoga disciplines including Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa and Nidra. Each class also ends with a guided meditation. Whether you’re experienced or just a beginner, yoga practice is the perfect way to reinvigorate your mind and body.
For beginner yoga classes Melbourne, contact Kaya Health Clubs today on (03) 9090 1000.