5 GENTLE WAYS TO RESET YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEMJun 16, 2022
AND WHY WE WOULD WANT TO…
As humans, we have evolved so much in a relatively short amount of time. This means that not every piece of us has evolved as quickly.
Our nervous system, for example, is still unable to differentiate between the stress of an extreme workload each week and the stress of being hunted by a leopard.
When our nervous system signifies that we are stressed and therefore in danger, one of the first responses is to move blood away from the digestive and reproductive organs and instead redirect to the skeletal muscles that we would need to stay alive in a situation like this. For example, your biceps and quadriceps.
This is called our 'fight or flight' response, also known as the sympathetic nervous system.
When we are feeling safe and relaxed in our bodies and our lives, the blood is free to move away from the skeletal muscles needed to fight or flee and instead moves to nourish the digestive and reproductive organs and tissues. This is called our 'rest and digest' mode, also known as the parasympathetic nervous system.
It’s essential to our overall well being that we are able to move between these two states with ease, and that we don’t spend too much time in a response that is not conducive to our health in our environment.
Due to the nature of the society that we have all co-created, most of us spend far too much time in our fight or flight response. Especially if you are dealing with not only the stress of your workload, but perhaps a pandemic, or a natural disaster, or a family member being unwell. If you’re someone who menstruates, you may experience a halt in your cycle during these times of intense stress.
Many factors contribute to our overactive stress response in our bodies. And it’s my belief that we need to be using our yoga and self-care practices to support a healthy nervous system.
Here are some gentle yet effective ways to down-regulate your nervous system when you feel stressed:
1. SAMA VRITTI / SQUARE BREATHING.
If you’re pregnant, please skip the holding of the breath and just breathe in for 4 and out for 4 counts.
Breathe into your belly and lungs for the count of 4.
Hold the breath for the count of 4.
Exhale slowly and evenly for the count of 4.
Hold no breath for the count of 4.
Repeat as many times as feels good.
Once you’re finished, breathe naturally for a minute or so before moving on.
(One count is approximately one second.)
2: NADI SHODHANA
With your right hand, fold your first two fingers down towards the base of your thumb so that your thumb and ring finger are free. Your pinky finger can be free and will likely want to mirror whatever the ring finger is doing.
Lift your right hand to your face, take a breath in.
Close your right nostril with your right thumb, and exhale out the left nostril slowly for the count of 5. Then, inhale through the left nostril for the count of five.
Small pause at the top of the breath.
Use the right ring finger to block the left nostril, so you can exhale slowly out the right nostril for the count of five. Then, inhale through the right nostril for the count of five.
That’s one round.
Repeat, 10, 20 or as many times as you like.
Finish with an exhale on the left side and then breathe naturally for a minute or two before moving on.
OPTIONAL: You may like to add a breath retention for the count of five at the top of each inhale. Contraindicated if you are pregnant or if holding your breath makes you anxious.
How to: put your bare feet on the earth and take some deep breaths. No phone, no stimulus. As you do this, put your attention in your feet, feel where they meet the earth and feel or sense that connection. Feel yourself rooted down. Take five or ten deep breaths.
4. USE YOUR SENSES.
This is especially useful for when you’re feeling overwhelmed in the moment; to bring you back to the present.
Take a few slow and deep breaths to gather yourself.
In your head or write down on paper:
Five things you can see.
Four things you can hear.
Three things you can feel.
Two things you can smell.
One thing you can taste.
5. MOVE YOUR BODY.
A personal favourite.
Sway. Move. Stretch. Breathe.
A gentle yoga class if you can. Moving your body in alignment with your breath through the nose is a signal to your nervous system that you are safe.
I hope these practices support you in your moments of need, and all those moments in between.
Feel free to send me an email and let me know how you go.
If you enjoyed your yoga class and would like to continue practicing yoga to unwind your busy body and mind, you can join SEASONAL. for free for seven days here.
All my love,
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