Do you ever wonder why people who practice yoga seem so calm and happy?
Many people suffer from hypertension, which is spending too much time in the sympathetic nervous system due to stress. Hypertension is a state of great psychological stress due to the pressures of modern life. Regular yoga practice: asana (yoga posture), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and deep relaxation allow you to spend more time in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a state of rejuvenation and rest.
In our modern lives we face constant stress that causes our fight or flight responses to be stimulated - even though we are very rarely, if ever, in a life or death situation like we were in the cave man days. Nowadays we step into fight or flight when our boss sends us an e-mail that makes us angry or we feel the everyday pressures of life: deadlines, family, money, and mental stress.
The parasympathetic system is responsible for activities that occur when the body is resting; it is a state of relaxation and rejuvenation. We want to spend more time in the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the “fight or flight” response that is triggered when we're under stress. Spending more time in the parasympathetic nervous system allows our mind and body to rejuvenate so we can let go and trust the universal flow.
It is like the story of the river, when we hold on so tight to a branch- something we feel we have to have, the river beats us up. When we let go and step into a space of trust and relaxation the river will take us where we are really meant to be.
Many of us know that the law of attraction states that our thoughts create our reality. Yet, what can be even more important than our thoughts are our emotions. Thoughts are electric and emotions are magnetic. That means our emotions are really creating our reality. The more time we spend in the sympathetic nervous system (in a stress response) the more we produce cortisol and attract or magnetize stressful experiences into our lives. We are addicted to the chemical that is released during our stress responses, Cortisol. Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol, creates hypertension- which can increase weight, and have negative effects on the heart and kidneys including many other issues.
We practice yoga and meditation to get ourselves into the parasympathetic a space of relaxation and trust. It is like the story of the river - if you go with the FLOW you will be brought where you are meant to be. If you hold onto a branch, you will be beaten up by the current. Deeply relaxing on a cellular level allows the body to heal itself; when you begin to calm the mind, the healing takes place. In this process your body and mind re-calibrate, preparing you to receive more. Create time just for you to practice yoga or deep relaxation. Yoga is the effort that you put in to be effortless in life, so you can be the calm in the storm.
Here is a simple guided relaxation for entering the parasympathetic nervous system:
Lay down on the floor or on your bed. Get really comfortable and begin long deep breathing through the nose. Expand the navel as you inhale and allow it to glide back as you exhale. Feel the support of the bed or floor underneath you. Imagine you are sinking into deep relaxation as you continue to breathe. Allow your body this deep healing, as you fully let go. Staying present, begin to soften into the breath. Imagine you are butter melting on a hot skillet, every cell sinking deeper and deeper into complete comfort.
Relax your eyebrows and your jaw. If you feel any tension breath light into that area and let it dissolve away. Spread this calm feeling of security and support through your whole body and let go. Allow yourself time to just be in this space of deep healing for your body, mind and spirit. Take your time and stay present, and whenever you are ready, gently make your way out of this meditation, feeling refreshed and renewed.
Hillary Pike is an International 500-hour certified Kundalini and Hatha Yoga Instructor and Meditation Guide. Her mission is to provide you with techniques that will help you expand your awareness and remember your Grace. For information on her events or for Inner Bliss Guidance visit: beingrace.com