Yoga Based Relaxation Techniques: Reducing Sympathetic Nervous Activity

A healthy nervous system maintains homeostasis by balancing input from both branches of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), during activities ranging from relaxing, digesting and sleeping, to waking, feeling excited, and running. The two branches of ANS that work in conjunction are Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Activity.

Under Normal Circumstances, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) promotes the ability to be active and invokes the defense mechanism of fight or flight in our body. In contrast Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is associated with restorative work and brings relaxation response. An individual who is exposed to states of SNS dominance has an increased risk for Symptoms and Illnesses like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, poor sleep, osteoporosis etc. The SNS, in conjunction with such stress hormones as adrenaline and cortisol, initiate a series of changes in the body, including raising blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. Therefore, recurring sympathetic stimulations pose serious threat to our health and wellbeing.

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In his article we will introduce you to three relaxation techniques which promote the activation of PNS and lead to mental relaxation. These are:

  1. Instant Relaxation Technique (IRT)

  2. Quick Relaxation Technique (QRT)

  3. Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT)

Instant Relaxation Technique (IRT)

As the name suggests IRT instantly relaxes the body. It is only a one minute practice which is performed in the beginning of Yoga session after few initial breathing practices. IRT is practiced when there is least fatigue in the body. This underscores the importance of relaxation practices which is used not only to releases fatigue but also to develop awareness. 

Quick Relaxation Technique (QRT)

QRT is a three minute practice to quickly relax our body during the Yoga session. It is done in three phases to become aware of the state of fatigue and sympathetic upsurge and to systematically relax and calm our self.

Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT)

It is practiced at the end of Yoga session to deeply relax our body and to remove the trace of:

  • stress
  • fatigue if any.

DRT is 8-10 minute practice done in eight phases. DRT is a very helpful technique to fight stress and promote physical, mental and emotional health. It systematically relaxes the lower, middle and upper portions of body making us feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Master all the three relaxation techniques in our Yoga Teacher Training course with the physiological understanding of how Yoga creates a parasympathetic dominance over body.

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