When I work with clients and teach wellness classes, I do a lot of breath and mindfulness practices. If there is a “silver bullet” for us to maintain optimal health it would be the Ujjayi Pranayama (breath regulating technique). The Ujjayi breath is “a soft, whispering breath which you’ll also hear called victorious breath, or perhaps ocean breath”.
Why do we want to do this breath?
Let’s talk about your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). However, instead of confusing and boring you with all the technical terms and actions of the ANS, I am going to keep it very basic and hopefully very relatable for you in your everyday life.
The ANS is made up of two different nervous systems: the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. This may be a quick review, or it may be brand new, but here are some of the differences between the two systems
The general function of the parasympathetic system is to control homeostasis and the body’s rest-and-digest response.
It has longer pathways and is the slower of the two systems. It controls the body’s response while at rest. This system acts as a counterbalance and helps return the body to a state of calm.
We should live in the parasympathetic system for most of our daily lives. It helps us stay calm and is a very long-term sustainable system to be in.
The general function of the sympathetic system is to mobilize the body’s fight-or-flight response.
It has very short neurons and is the faster of the two systems. It controls the body’s response during a perceived threat or stressful state. The body speeds up, tenses up, and becomes more alert. Also, all functions not critical to survival shut down.
The sympathetic is just as important, but it should only be used for short, intense periods of time when we need extra adrenaline or energy. It is not a sustainable energy source for our bodies.
These are just the basics of our different nervous systems. I am going to go more into what this all means to your bodies in my next email blog and why taking that ten-minute break in the middle of your day can give such a big boost to your overall health. I’ll also touch on why this could be a hidden key for someone struggling to lose weight, even after increasing their weekly workouts.
Stay tuned for more about your nervous system and how to keep it healthy so that you stay well in mind, body and spirit.
To our health and beauty,
nourish. move. meditate.