Three ways Yoga helps the Nervous System
by Pip Atherstone-Reid
‘The nervous system is a network of cells and fibres, which transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body.’ Online Dictionary
One of the ways Yoga helps the nervous system is through the balance and regulation of the ultaradian rhythms of the body. The ultaradian rhythms are the rhythmic cycles of the body that repeat within a 24 hour cycle, such as blinking, blood circulation, heart rate, thermal regulation and more. Yoga helps to regulate and strengthen the nervous system, which in turn then helps to regulate these important repeated sequences. The use of the Shabd Guru, breathing, deep relaxation and regenerative Asanas all help to secure these core rhythms.
The Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous system is a part of the Autonomic Nervous system, which is controlled by the hypothalamus. The Parasympathetic Nervous system is in control of down regulation; lowering the heart rate, increasing digestion, defecation etc. The Sympathetic Nervous system helps to control the fight or flight aspects of the body; it increases hearth rate, dilates pupils, and increases blood supply to the muscles and arterial blood pressure.
Both aspects of the Autonomic Nervous system need to switch continually throughout the day. Yoga can help to regulate and strengthen the Autonomic Nervous system by its effect on the hypothalamus. The breath work in Yoga also plays an important role, through its relaxation capabilities and through the nasal cycle. The nasal cycle is the relative openness of one nostril over another and the ratio of the inhale and exhale through both. Breathing through the left nostril switches on the Parasympathetic Nervous system and breathing through the right nostril stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous system.
Pip Atherstone-Reid is the co-founder and co-owner of Kundalini House and has been an Acupuncture and TCM practitioner for over 15 years. She is available for Acupuncture & TCM appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.