How to Be Pro-Active When You Feel Re-Active

The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is engaged when we are active.  It is part of our human anatomy and make-up; when used properly, it gives us the ability to get up and get moving. However, we often "over-incorporate" this adrenaline based ability to act.  

Throughout our lives, we can become too dependent on the feelings of rush, hurry, and stress on an every day type of basis.  When we engage the sympathetic nervous system, the following reactions occur:
  • Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Upsurge
  • Feelings of Hyper-Vigilance and Hyper-Arousal 
  • Blood Clotting and Pupil Size Increase
  • Increased Availability of Sugar, Fats; Insulin Is Inhibited
  • SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System) Domination Characteristics
    • Hypertension
    • Fast Arrythmias
    • Heart Disease
    • Anxiety Prone
    • Panic Attacks
    • High Cholesterol
    • Insomnia
    • Poor Digestion
    • In cases of potential life threatening events, the hypo-thalamus in the brain produces a stress response.  Epinephrine and nor-epinephrine (adrenaline) along with cortisol, the primary stress hormone (raises glucose levels), are secreted into the bloodstream.
Our bodies are on "HIGH ALERT" status. 

"Anger is built on adrenaline," says Rick Warren.  Daily lifestyles of anger, stress, resentment, and worry, adrenaline reliance, may create depression due to the over-use of this type of mobilization.  This is where yoga, meditation, and breath benefit us.  

Prana-yama or breath control, benefit the types of re-active behavior when it slows down our respiration and gives us a calming mantra to think about each day.  Here are the breath practices that assist those of us who over-use the sympathetic nervous system.  When we breathe slower, we engage the para (comes alongside to help)-sympathetic nervous system on the left side of our bodies.
  1. Relaxation Response Breath - The exhale is slower than the inhale by a ratio of 2 to 1
  2. NO withholding of breath either at the top of the inhale or the bottom of the exhale - this is counterproductive for those of us where panic attacks, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, or hyper-anxiety is present.
  3. Alternate Nostril Breathing - This form of pranayama is breathing in through one nostril at a time in a slow, relaxed manner.  Breathe in on left side first, breathe out on the right side next.  There is a smooth transition between the left and right nostril for a calming inhalation/exhalation.

​In yoga, a Sun Salute can raise the heart rate, but it can also benefit the heart rate if practiced slowly and mindfully.  Have you ever wondered why I hold a Downward Facing Dog pose too long? Perhaps it is for you to calm the erratic pace of your breath.  Holding the pose was not just to benefit the hamstrings.

All forms of yoga practice are beneficial, but if you struggle with anxiety I recommend slow, beginner's yoga or a restorative practice. A calming mantra can be accessed to help with the breath.  

  • Breathe in what you need more of, breathe out what you need to let go of
    • Peace, worry 
    • Joy, anger 
    • Serenity, anxiety 
  • Or ​breathe in two words that have a similar meaning that promote calming relaxation  
    • Peace, calm
    • Joy, happiness
    • Serenity, tranquility

Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Smile, breathe, and go slowly.  Feelings come and go like clouds on a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor."

Calming, Easy Yoga Practices here at Tranquility:
Beginner's Yoga at 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
Move to Restore on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:45 p.m.
Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m.  Rest and Restore


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