The brain and the autonomic nervous system regulate everything in the human body, including the gut microbiome. When we are striving to “get healthy” it is necessary to tend to the autonomic nervous system alongside of gut health so that our body is modulating internal processes optimally.
Within the autonomic nervous system we have the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/fawn) increases heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol levels, and muscle tension. The parasympathetic nervous system (rest-digest/reflect-redirect) lowers heart rate, blood pressure, cortisol and blood sugar levels, and muscle tension. Clearly we want to support the body’s natural ability to ease in and out of sympathetic and parasympathetic dominance effortlessly and optimally.
The practice of yoga is highly integrating for all body systems, and, when practiced skillfully, can directly stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system in a way that paves neural pathways for internal self-regulation. In order to get in a meditative state the body simply must be in parasympathetic dominance. The aim of the physical practice of yoga is to release tensions in the body so that meditation and stillness are possible. When we hold stillness in the body we are allowing the body to find its own homeostasis, and vibrant health & well being, as well as happiness, is our birthright and evidence that the body is in balance.
If you are like the 67% of Americans who have not tried yoga perhaps it is time to give it consideration, especially if you want to be healthier. A healthy nervous system, as well as a beautiful gut microbiome, are the foundation for optimal health and well being.
Mandala Integrative Medicine