Skip to main content

April 24, 2012 Restore Series

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) - try saying that 10 times fast.  Make you stressed out??  Sorry.   Indulge me a little as I delve into what it is, why it is important and ways to tap into and improve it.

There are two sides to every coin.  So as to not exclude both sides of the nervous system, I will introduce the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) as well. The entire coin is called the autonomic nervous system, with half the system activated in response to stress, while the other half is suppressed.  We commonly refer to these two systems as the Flight or Fight (SNS) or the Rest and Digest (PSNS).  The first half is the sympathetic nervous system which originates in the brain with projections that exit out of your spine and into nearly every organ in your body.  It is activated under emergencies or what we think of as emergencies.  The chemical. adrenaline is released when this systems kicks in.  It is used to basically save your life.

The other half of the coin, the parasympathetic nervous system is however, there to promote calmness, growth, and energy storage.  The heart rate is slowed, the processes to eliminate work better and the sphincter muscles relax.  These two systems work together not in opposition even though they have different functions.

Why is it important to know this?  Well, because we need balance within the right framework.  Too much of anything can make us sick. The SNS is part of our genetic makeup for our species to survive.  But since our hunting and gathering days are over and large predators are not out to eat us, we have found new things to worry us and keep us up at night.  But we do not know how to shut them off.  Enter the PSNS stage left.  If all we had, was resting, our heart would never get its exercise and disease would set in.

What can we do to tap into our Rest and Digest and find homeostasis (balance and stability)? We have learned such practices as yoga, meditation, prayer, creative pursuits, etc. in our lifetime.  All of these practices and many more not listed, elicit the Relaxation Response.  Herbert Benson, M.D. is known as the Father of the Relaxation Response.  The Relaxation Response is a scientifically proven change in the physiology of the body.  This response causes the PSNS to jumpstart, lowering blood pressure, bringing blood flow to organs, providing for digestion to function better, increasing fertility and immunity.

Nurture yourself with your Restorative Yoga for when you need it most, it will be much more readily available to you at any time and at any point.

The Poses
Mountain Brook

Props: bolster, 2-3 blankets, block, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.

Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft ones!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing.  It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.
On your mat, place the bolster will your knees will be, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), a block for the feet or the heels can come to the floor and a neck roll for the cervical spine.  Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up.  If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel.  Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes.  Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves.  Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket.  Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.

Supported Forward Bound Angle Pose

Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract, digestive and reproductive organs. Relaxes the back and releases tension in the neck.
Props: bolster, 3 blankets or blocks (firm cushions and pillows are always an option) and one extra blanket for warmth.

Place a double-fold blanket on floor, sit on edge of blanket and bring soles of your feet together in Baddhakonasana). Option to cross legs. Bolster goes between legs and add blankets to top of bolster as necessary as you lean over the bolster.  Your neck should not drop down but be about level with the upper spine.  Allow arms to drape down. Feel free to add support under arms and wherever else needed.  Head is turned to a side.  Stay for 5-10 minutes, alternating head with an inhale. 

Adding cupped hands over the eyes. Rub hands together until they are warmed and energetic.  Carefully lay cupped hands over the eyes and rest your forehead on fingers. Stay like this for about five minutes, absorbing the warmth, energy and giving your eyes their much needed rest from light and external stimuli.


Popular posts from this blog

Yoga Therapy News

I am honored to be part of the Center for Integrated Health in Harleysville. I will make my Yoga Therapy debut there and presenting on the Emerging Field of Yoga Therapy and How Does It Benefit Me or Someone I love?

Here are the details for this upcoming informational and practice seminar.

November 8 Restore

The Poses

Supported Forward Fold with Legs Extended (Paschimottasana)
Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed. Massage for the digestive system.
Props: bolster, 1-2 blankets, block Sit on a folded blanket and extend legs out in front of you. Place bolster lengthwise along the legs adding a blanket or block to top as headrest. Lay your upper body on bolster and rest your forehead on blanket or block. Arms can drape on bolster, along side or any other comfortable position. 

Bridge Pose - Supported
Props:4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow, can also use bolster for more stretch Extras: blanket for warmth Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases ox…

November 29 Restore

Deep Thoughts not Deep Pockets
Within the past two weeks, I have been a driven Christmas shopper.  I cringe as I think about my credit card bill at month's end. I have savings for but it still will be a jaw dropper.  As I have been gathering gifts for others in my closet and mentally going through the wish lists, I have come to the conclusion that this Christmas has a theme.  Unbeknownst to the people on my gift list, this theme has everything to do with Comfort and Ease.  Without going into the gift list (just in case prying eyes may see this), 99.9% of the gifts that I have bought, could bring some comfort or ease to a person's life.  Think snuggly, warm things.  Or gifts that make a persons life a bit easier.  I didn't intend to go this direction but honestly, maybe it is me that needs some comfort and ease right now.  If I need some, perhaps others do as well.   I am not going down that political road, but there is a lot of unease out there.  Whatever party, candidate, …