Restore & Renew: Eliciting the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The Flight-Fight response of the sympathetic nervous system purpose was to help us flee from danger – think cavewoman fleeing from a tiger. In the face of a threat our body produces adrenaline to increase our heart rate, pupils dilate, blood flow shunts to extremities (to our arms and legs to prepare for fleeing), the body sweats, breathing increases, digestion is inhibited; growth, fertility, and immunity are compromised. Though times have changed, the Flight-Fight or stress response is dominant in modern life. We are in chronic stress, which is literally making us sick. The antidote is relaxation. Yoga, in particular restorative yoga, provides rich rest and relaxation. Restorative yoga elicits the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system (or rest-and-digest): our heart rate & breathing slows down, blood pressure decreases, brain wave patterns slow down, blood flow increases to our internal organs. Slowly our attention is drawn inward. As we focus on our breath, our mind and body are able to be quiet and still. By practicing restorative yoga, we allow our body to heal and mend.

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