Morning yogis, it’s me again, blethering about mental health and why it matters, and, of course, how yoga can help.
So, there’s two parts to your nervous system – the sympathetic Flight or Fight part that’s the reptile brain the bit that saves you from being eaten by a bear, and the parasympathetic Rest and Recover, the bit that helps you heal, digest your food, maintain your mental and physical health, for want of a better term – the useful bit.
Sympathetic is good but I’m not likely to get eaten by a bear, and my reptile brain hasn’t evolved to realise that just because the man in front of me has put his fish at a weird angle on the conveyor belt and if he’d just straightened it slightly I could get my whole basket laid out neatly and properly and I wouldn’t have to still have this cheese in the basket and now someone’s put their stuff down on the end of the thing and I can’t….
That sympathetic response is fine, muscles are primed for running or fighting, pupils dilated to take in any movement and make full use of the available light, breath is shortened, blood pulls back to support the muscles, heart rate increases, adrenalin floods the system.
All done unconsciously, led by the wee lizard at the controls.
So how does yoga help, baldy? you ask.
I’ll tell you, but don’t call me baldy, I was just about to fight a bear in Morrisons, you’ve no chance.
Yoga puts You back in charge, not the wee lizard, not the wee bunny that runs the parasympathetic either, YOU, the essential being that is YOU.
What? How? Who’re you calling YOU?
You can control the body’s response to stress, breathing, controlled and moderated, releases the tension brought on by the stress response, conscious mindful control of what’s going on inside will calm the system and put you back in charge.
There are loads of helpful strategies to bring you back from the edge of a panic attack, the most effective one is breathing, Take Control of your Breath and you take back control of your body and of your self.
A wee free exercise for you: breathe in for a count of two, then out for a count of four, keep going, if two’s not enough try three in and six out, controlled, breathing through the nose deep into the lungs, keep going, increase it to four if you have to but that’s a long exhale at eight, if you’re going for five in try five out, feeling calmer? how about six and six, too much, go back to two and four, or anywhere in between, you’re in control.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL.