Sharon and I met last week to put some structure around what topics we would post about and in what order. We had so much fun thinking about it and planning it. (Yes, the McLaughlin organizing gene in full force!) As you can probably figure out from her two recent postings, we decided to write about some of the benefits of yoga in more detail.
As I was thinking about what to post for this entry, I was reflecting on why yoga makes us feel so good. Then, low and behold, as I was eating breakfast yesterday morning I pulled out the latest Yoga Journal issue and I opened to the page I left off on the day before. The article was titled Positively Prana. It resonated with me because of my current daily practice of meditation, pranayama and restorative (my name = nappy) yoga.
In the article, Rod Stryker, a long time yoga teacher and founder of Para Yoga, writes “As you’ve probably heard, one reason asana (posture practice) leaves you feeling so good is that it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, thanks to two elements that almost all asana practices have in common – the lengthening and strengthening of musculature and calm, even breathing.”
Later in the article Rod writes “But the truth is that much of the yoga being practiced these days doesn’t do as much for the parasympathetic nervous system as you might think. To build your parasympathetic nervous system, you need to do poses that encourage deep relaxation such as forward bends and hip openers; do fewer standing poses; and do more sitting, supine, and prone postures as well as inversions. You also need to hold poses longer, as you would in restorative yoga, and dedicate longer periods of time to develop slow and complete breathing.”
So, kudos for Nappy Yoga and breathing! At Living Yoga we constantly talk about the importance of breathing – inhale/exhale – prana – chi – moving the life force. When you learn to flow your practice with the breath during yoga, it becomes a technique you can easily take off the mat. For example, the other day I had a stiff neck – I did some alternate nostril breathing and it helped significantly. We’ll write more about different breathing techniques in an upcoming entry. In the meantime, if you would like to read Rod’s article in full: http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/2982
For more information on the parasympathetic nervous system and how that relates to yoga and reducing stress…. http://www.livewithyoga.net/articles.htm