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Relax: Yoga & Breathwork to Soothe your Nervous System

Relax: Yoga & Breathwork to Soothe your Nervous System

Do you need a little helping hand to calm down right this moment? If you missed’s two October yoga retreats in Spain and Portugal, you may not be as relaxed as those lucky students (and teachers!) 

For the rest of us at home––don’t worry! We’ve got some classes designed to bring your nervous system back into balance and help you unwind. 

One of the greatest gifts yoga offers is its profound impact on the brain and the nervous system. The sympathetic or “active” nervous system governs our fight or flight response. You know, our ability to react quickly to danger and use a rush of adrenaline? Well, what happens when our lives are too busy, and we are over-stimulated is that our adrenals and cortisol levels get out of whack and our bodies don’t know how to regulate the adrenaline. Think stress, accelerated heart rate, high blood pressure, anxiety, and a host of other reactions that can lead to a state of dis-ease. Over time, if we fall into this type of pattern of constantly being in heightened over-active mode, our bodies and minds begin to suffer.

Enter yoga! Many yoga techniques, including asana, pranayama, and meditation all work to activate the parasympathetic or “passive” nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system lowers blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn imparts feelings of serenity. Certain styles of yoga like Gentle Hatha, Restorative, and Yin emphasize asanas (postures) that are designed to not just create more physical flexibility and mobility, but also to soothe your nerves.

Certain poses are recommended to help your relaxation response kick in. Forward folds and inversions are two of the best ways to almost immediately reduce stress and soothe the nervous system. When your head is below your heart, like in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) and Sirsasana (Headstand). Gravity works to encourage the blood to flow back toward the brain, which has a soothing effect on your body and mind. 

Forward folds like Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold) encourage introspection and offer a way to filter out external stimulation. When you add in mindful breathing techniques, like extending your exhales twice as long as your inhales, you send additional signals to your system that it is time to cool down and unwind. Seated meditation, Savasana (Corpse Pose), and Balasana (Child’s Pose), all offer the opportunity to shift your focus inward and slow everything down. 

This week, we’ve got four excellent classes to help you experience relaxation with expert guidance. Try one or all of them and see if your stress levels lower, you sleep better, and you feel more balanced. Relax and unwind! 

Yin 101: Mindfulness with Caitlin Rose Kenney

Breathwork: 4 Purifications with Geenie Celento

Reset Refuge: Crazy Day Decompression with Elise Fabricant

The Neurology of Yoga with Shy Sayar

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