Lifestyle Medicine, Main blog page, Other topics

Yoga for emotional wellbeing – Breathing for Anxiety.

✨I wanted to share a particular highlight for me from a really interesting webinar I went to this week on yoga for mental health with @themindedinstitute ‘s Heather Mason.⠀

✨I’ve mentioned before how when we extend our exhales longer than our inhales it activates the parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system, but how does this translate into feeling calmer? Well…. ⠀

✨When we exhale the vagus nerve (main branch of the parasympathetic nervous system) sends signs to the pacemaker of the heart (called the sino-atrial node) by releasing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This leads to reduced force and frequency of contractions of the heart. In turn this causes signals being sent to the brain we are in a safe place & the vagus nerve to send more of these signals to the heart in a feed-forward mechanism. ⠀

✨In this manner the simple act of breathing can lead to quick physiological responses, calming some of those feelings we can have when suffering from anxiety. ⠀

✨I thought I’d raise this as, in the Western world, we are often drawn to yoga by the asanas, the physical practice of yoga. However yoga encompasses much more and the breath aspect of it, pranayama, has great potential & possibly one of the greatest for supporting our emotional wellbeing ‘off the mat’. ⠀

✨I love breathwork & have introduced it into my daily practice. It’s so versatile you can practice it in any situation which causes you stress & anxiety, I’ve been known to do it on the wards when having a bad day and everyone around me was none the wiser. ⠀

Emma x ⠀

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