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Yoga, Breath, and the Autonomic Nervous System

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kristina rose baker

on 21 November 2013

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Transcript of Yoga, Breath, and the Autonomic Nervous System

Yoga, Breath, and the Autonomic Nervous System
Yoga and the ANS:
Offers the possibility of reducing inappropriate activation of the SNS and offering more stimulus to the PNS

Uyterhoeven, Sandra. “Yoga and the Autonomic Nervous System”
International Association of Yoga Therapists. August 2006: Yoga Therapy in Practice. Accessed 15 November 2013. <http://www.iayt.org/Publications_Vx2/ytip/aug06/Uyterhoeven0806.pdf>

Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Saper RB, Ciraulo DA, Brown RP. “Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.” US National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health. Med Hypothesis: 2012 May. Accessed 15 November 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22365651>

Muralikrishnan K, Balakrishnan B, Balasubramanian K, Visnegarawla F. “Measurement of the effect of Isha Yoga on cardiac autonomic nervous system using short-term heart rate variability.” US National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health. J Ayurveda Integr Med: April 2012. Accessed 15 November 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22707866>

Sands, Robin. “The Power of the Parasympathetic Nervous System.” Stress News October 2002 Vol.14 No.4. Accessed 15 November 2013. <http://www.uniyoga.co.uk/resources/parasympathetic_nervous_system.pdf>

C. R. Weinberg and M. A. Pfeifer. “An Improved Method for Measuring Heart-Rate Variability: Assessment of Cardiac Autonomic Function”. Biometrics.Vol. 40, No. 3. September 1984. Pages 855-861. Accessed 15 November 2013. <http://0-www.jstor.org.librarycat.risd.edu/stable/2530931>

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS):
is the cognitive capacity responsible for the bodily functions and activities outside of our conscious control.

There are two main parts of the ANS:
1. The SYMPATHETIC nervous system (SNS)

Breathing is a unique function to the body: it is one that is automatic and largely unconscious, but the rhythm of which can be consciously altered with one's will
Isha yoga and its effects on the ANS and heart rate
In a 2012 study conducted, beneficial effects of yoga were linked to its regulation to the ANS
The Stress Response
The SNS is important for survival, but detrimental when triggered for long periods of time.
This includes functions such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature, circulation, digestion, and other basic functions necessary for survival
Operates below the conscious level
Influences cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and glandular tissue
2. The PARASYMPATHETIC nervous system (PNS)
For short-term survival; excites the body, preparing it for action. Alerts the stress response in the body. Alters heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, blood sugar levels, respiration, and more. Also has the capacity to shut down other systems not needed for self-defense.
System for long-term survival; promotes rest and regeneration. SLUDD:
Salvation, Lacrimation, Urination, Defecation, and Digestion. Redirects blood flow to the core of the body.
Daily life is filled with stressors: without the discharge of these stressors, sustained high levels of cortisol are released in the body.
Chronic stress puts people at greater risk of chronic disease and premature death.
It is vital that the SNS is only activated when there is real danger, and not in daily situations of stress
Side effects:
- Destroys healthy muscles, bones, and cells; suppresses immune system, impairs digestion, weakens endocrine function
In yoga, we can practice repetition to change deeply embedded physical, psychological, or emotional patterns.
Stress causes an imbalance in the ANS
Optimal homeostasis in the ANS can be restored through yoga practice
This state of altered, conscious breath has the capacity to change many subconscious body functions; it has the ability to correct stress-induced imbalance of the ANS, which includes:
1. decreased PNS activity
2. increased SNS activity
3. under-activity of gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) system
4. increased allostatic load
Heart rate is directly related and oscillates in synchrony with breath
Yoga breath functionally resets the ANS :
through stretch-induced inhibitory signals,
synchronization of neural elements in the heart, lungs, limbic system, and cortex

Yoga breathing has been shown to correlate to decreased oxygen consumption, decreased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure
The test was conducted by studying short-term heart rate variability (HRV):
Short term HRV was recorded in 14 regular Isha yoga practicioners and compared with age and gender matched non-yoga practicioners
The results showed statistically significant differences between yoga practitioners and non-practitioners during supine rest and deep breathing
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