A Consistent Aerial Yoga Practice Can Improve the Nervous System
The brain regulates functions throughout the body through the automonic nervous system, which consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The Sympathetic Nervous System
The sympathetic originates in the brain and project to almost all the organs in the body. It mobilizes the body to react in face of threat, much like the response that occurs in the fight or flight response. The response includes increases in respiration, heart rate, and pulse; decreases in digestion and movement of the blood to the muscles to prepare for action. It does this partly by activating the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, a natural stimulant that speeds up body functions.
We need the sympathetic nervous system to activate when there is danger – it plays a fundamental role in allowing us to find safety. The problem arises when it is hyper-aroused and can’t shut off. Symptoms of hyper-arousal are anxiety, panic, agitation, and overwhelm. When the sympathetic system remains active the body experiences heightened levels of cortisol and chronic stress, which wreak havoc on all systems of the body.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Opposite to the sympathetic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic system demobilizes the body to reserve energy, which includes increasing digestion, decreasing heart rate, respiration, and pulse. It controls the bodies rest and digest functions, calming the nerves and slowing the flow of adrenaline. This system helps you feel calm and relaxed. It’s that feeling of happiness and peace after aerial yoga class.
Our bodies desire to be in balance. Biologically this is called homeostasis. Regulation of the nervous system is when we can easily bring ourselves back into homeostasis. When our sympathetic nervous system is activated due to daily stressors, a healthy nervous system will be able to easily return to homeostasis. However, sometimes stressors are so great that our system needs extra support to get there.
What Does the Research Say?
Studies have shown that individuals who practice yoga consistently can control autonomic functions and make changes in body activity. Bagchi (1957) found “an extreme slowing” of the respiration and heart rate, concluding that yoga offers “deep relaxation of the autonomic nervous system.
Nervous System Benefits of Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga supports the parasympathetic nervous system through deep breathing exercises, deep pressure, and vagal nerve stimulation. The aerial hammock offers deep compression in certain postures upon release there is an increase in the flow of bodily fluids to the area.
Aerial yoga activates the sympathetic nervous system when doing certain inversions or a difficult pose that brings forth a feeling of excitement such as a drop,
Aerial yoga helps regulate the nervous system through this back and forth activation of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. It helps our bodies find homeostasis.
Aerial yoga practices are designed to stimulate our autonomic nervous system in various ways depending upon the activities within the class. All yoga practices include movements and breathing exercises to trigger both sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The ratio of stimulation is how we train our brain and body to find homeostasis easily.
Science over the decades has learned a lot about how yoga affects a person’s mood and metabolic state. Fast styles of breathing and movement tend to excite the nervous system while slow styles tend to calm it. The body learns homeostatis through the back and forth of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Want to learn more about the benefits of aerial yoga? Sign up for teacher training, an aerial yoga class, or children’s therapy.
Bagchi, B. K. & Wenger, M. A. (1957). Electrophysiological correlates of some yogi exercises. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology Supplement 7, 132–149.Google Scholar
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