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Category: Autonomic Nervous System

Baroreflex – The Secret Behind Inverted Yoga Poses like Sirsasana

Baroreflex – The Secret Behind Inverted Yoga Poses like Sirsasana

It is a popular belief that the secret behind inverted Yoga poses (like Sirsasana and Sarvangasana) is the increase the blood supply to the brain that promotes relaxation and calmness. But it is not true. Then, what makes inversions so effective for mental health? It’s a body-mind Neuroscience reflex called “Baroreflex”. Let’s look at it from a neuroscience perspective. Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) is a measure of the blood supply to the brain in a given period of time. In…

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Yoga Stimulates Vagus Nerve to Induce Relaxation Response – a key to Emotional Health

Yoga Stimulates Vagus Nerve to Induce Relaxation Response – a key to Emotional Health

Vagus Nerve is the largest cranial nerve in the body. It starts at the base of the skull and runs throughout the whole body. It plays a central role in your emotional and physical health. It directly influences the nervous system – particularly the Parasympathetic branch of the Autonomic Nervous System (covered in a previous post). Our breath, heart rate, and digestion — as well as our overall ability to experience the world (particular how to handle the stress in…

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Neuroscience Evidence of Pranayama – Influence of Breath over Mind

Neuroscience Evidence of Pranayama – Influence of Breath over Mind

Neuroscience is now discovering what Yogic science has known for many millennia – the influence of breath over the mind. We not just inhale O2 and exhale CO2, but what we breathe (called “Prana” in Yogic science) is subtler than that. It has influence beyond the physical and physiological states of humans. Our breathing is linked to higher states of awareness – emotions, psyche, consciousness, and spirituality. Yogic texts suggest that the practice of Pranayama should not be considered as…

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Yoga – An excellent example of Neuroscience Biofeedback

Yoga – An excellent example of Neuroscience Biofeedback

Neuroscience has slowly started to believe in body and mind connection, which was formulated and practiced in India in the form of Yoga over thousands of years. Biofeedback is a modern medical science term coined to encapsulate the fact that the brain changes its function based on what the body is doing. And, this makes it is possible to influence (or control) various physiological and psychological functions that normally are involuntary. So far, Yogic wisdom of thousands of years (of…

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Understanding Autonomic Nervous System from Neuroscience Perspective

Understanding Autonomic Nervous System from Neuroscience Perspective

It is important to know the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to understand the real effect of Yoga for healthy living. There is no other system of the human body where Yoga has a direct influence than the Autonomic Nervous System and hence it is of great relevance to the understanding of the effects of Yoga practice on the body, mind, and emotions. The autonomic nervous system is a part of the human nervous system that acts largely unconsciously and behaves…

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Why 20 Minutes of Cooling Down is Important in Yoga Practice?

Why 20 Minutes of Cooling Down is Important in Yoga Practice?

Let’s understand why the Yogic wisdom of “cooling down” is important from the lenses of modern Neuroscience. In any stressful situation during your normal daily routine (including fear, worry, and anxiety) or even a planned activity that challenges the body (like Sports, Exercise or an active Yogasana practice), the Hypothalamus (the control center for the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)) is aroused. To prepare the body for the threatening or challenging situation, the Hypothalamus directs the Adrenal Medullae to release a…

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How can I Alleviate Jet Lag and How Iyengar Yoga helps?

How can I Alleviate Jet Lag and How Iyengar Yoga helps?

Jet lag is a condition that results from changes to the body’s internal clock called ‘Circadian Rhythms’. This is caused by rapid travel across different time zones. The circadian rhythm influences the biological, physiological and behavioral processes in our typical 24-hour cycle. These processes include the sleep-wake cycle, eating habits, core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, and other important body functions. When you travel across time zones, the rhythm gets disturbed which causes sleep disturbances, cognitive discomfort, fatigue,…

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Do you know we humans have a second brain – The Enteric Nervous System

Do you know we humans have a second brain – The Enteric Nervous System

Medically known as ‘Enteric Nervous System’, our so-called second brain is a part of the Autonomic Nervous System. It consists of sheaths of 100 million neurons embedded in the walls of our digestive tract (alimentary canal) from the esophagus to the anus. It has its own reflexes and senses, and can behave independently of the brain for the process of digestion and excretion. The business of digestion is delegated to this nervous system in our gut. It controls the involuntary…

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Why cover eyes using a blanket or eye pillow during restorative yoga poses?

Why cover eyes using a blanket or eye pillow during restorative yoga poses?

Your Iyengar Yoga teacher may have instructed you to cover your eyes with a blanket or eye pillow during deep relaxing restorative yoga poses – particularly Savasana. Do you want to know the scientific reason for this? Covering your eyes this way would prevent any light from falling on the eyes reducing the external stimulation. The eye pillow (a small one and not very heavy), in particular, would damp out extraneous motions of the eyes. This would prevent any possible…

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Why Yoga helps in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Why Yoga helps in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The restorative yoga poses bring back the homeostatic balance caused by trauma. This can be very helpful to a person suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Under a sustained experience of trauma, the stress hormone called ‘Cortisol’ is consistently overproduced. It eventually causes the desensitization of the HPA axis. Because of this the nervous system no longer responds to the normal homeostatic feedback loop that otherwise in a normal course causes it to “calm down”. This means the HPA axis…

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