One of the most game-changing concepts I’ve learned through yoga is that every mental knot has a corresponding physical knot & vice versa. Asanas, the physical postures meant to prepare the mind for meditation through the body, provide an effective and organic way to release these knots. Some asanas are designed to increase strength & flexibility, and others trigger a sense of physical and mental relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Asanas allow us to focus inward by creating space in our bodies and clearing our minds. Doing so cultivates a foundation of calm, steady evenness resting within us at a cellular level to balance the constant state of physical & mental hyperactivity. I want to emphasize that the change occurs at a cellular level because to understand how yoga truly changes our physiological health, we need to understand that our well-being boils down to how healthy our cells are. Let’s first consider the effects of stress on our body – the following is a list of common symptoms resulting from increased cortisol and decreased immunity (two major physiological products of stress):
- Digestive issues
- High blood sugar
- Anxiety/depression-triggered headaches
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Nervous system dysregulation
Practically speaking, a “knot” is just stagnant energy – but the accumulation of these knots can have major implications for one’s physiological & mental health, including but not limited to the issues mentioned above. To take a closer look at the role that practicing yoga can play, let’s consider the Vagus nerve – the largest cranial nerve that relays messages between the brain and the nervous, respiratory, and digestive systems, thereby controlling heart rate, breathing, and digestion. Stimulation of the Vagus nerve activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which automatically lowers levels of inflammation, stress, and anxiety in the body.
How to stimulate this extraordinary nerve that can do us so much good? The answer is simple. Practicing backbends and forward folds places pressure on the kidneys, firing off several positive feedback loops in the body including decreased cortisol levels, improved blood circulation, & balanced blood glucose levels. Simply put, focusing on CALMING DOWN through intentional, mindful breathing and intuitive movement is the ultimate kindness to yourself, and the most impactful way to rid your body of any stagnant energy that isn’t serving you.
When we perform conscious, mindful movement, the cells that comprise our bodies receive a message that all is well and sense that they have permission to relax – and over time, the repetition of this message establishes a new relationship and connection between mind, body, and breath. When we minimize stress to optimize cell health, our physiological health improves as well. This is the true magic of yoga!
For tips on getting into the right mindset for practicing asanas in a healthy, safe, and rewarding way, check out my blog post 6 Tips for Beginners.
Wishing you all clarity, strength and harmony in your lives.
Love & light,
Loved this post! It is so easy to get wrapped up in the every day hustle, not noticing how our cortisol and stress responses are triggered by what’s around us. I appreciate the way you explain how mindful breathing and movement can help combat these responses & allow our bodies to enter a state of relaxation. Definitely need to start practicing this more.
I’m so glad it hit for you, thanks for reading and excited to follow along on your mindful breathing + movement journey :)
Love how you explained the impact that yoga can have on the nervous system! I always feel like a different person after practicing and now I understand why. 😅
Knowledge is power! So glad you enjoyed and thanks for reading ❤️