Limb 4 Pranayama

Most yoga practices will induce the relaxation response, that is they will kick in the parasympathetic nervous system, PSN. To understand this more clearly, our autonomic nervous system has 2 branches, the PSN and the sympathetic, SNS. The SNS is often referred to as the "fight or flight" response, typically triggered by stress. When this baby kicks in, it initiates the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones then cause changes to the body, such as raising the blood pressure, increasing the heart rate, and elevating blood sugar levels. Not the way we want to roll.

In contrast, during a yoga practice, as we close our eyes and begin to bring our awareness to the breath, we move into the PNS, where positive physiological effects start to happen. Our heart rate begins to slow down, cardiopulmonary stress is decreased, blood sugar levels may lower, and muscular tension is reduced. Now, this is the way we want to roll.

The sum total of the positive impact of moving into our PSN is awesome! We have an increased sense of well-being, "be well yoga", just had to stick that in there, and the concerns that held us so tightly just moments before we started the pranayama/breath practice have gone bye-bye. We now sense a powerful presence - the presence of stillness.

So, just breathe...