Accessing the Nervous System Through Breathing
What is a Nervous System?
The nervous system is the network of nerve cells and fibers that transmits nerve impulses between various parts of the body. Much like the electricity network in your home, this is our body’s electrical network.
The nervous system regulates the sensations and activities in the body. It affects mood, sleep, digestion, metabolism, circulation and movement.
Different Division of Nervous System
The nervous system can be divided into:
- CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM
this consists of the brain and the spinal cord. This system integrates information from the entire body and coordinates activity across the whole organism.
- PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM
This system consists of the nerves that connect the Central Nervous System to our peripherals, for example our limbs and organs.
The information to and from the Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System is transmitted in a matter of seconds.
Inside of our Peripheral Nervous System, there are two divisions:
Somatic Peripheral Nervous System
This system governs the activities that are within our voluntary control, for example, from our Central System to our Skeletal. It also controls our voluntary movement such as scratching an itch.
Autonomic Peripheral Nervous System
This system generally happens beyond consciousness, for example, the automatic functioning of our internal organs.
Inside this Autonomic Peripheral Nervous System, we can classify two divisions:
- The Sympathetic Nervous System
This is activated when we have the “Flight of Fight” response.
- The Parasympathetic Nervous System
This is our Rest and Repair mechanism.
In a one given time, any one of these systems that can be activated.
In the modern world, unfortunately, it is common that we stay most of the time in Sympathetic Nervous System. Some common signs of having our Sympathetic Nervous System active are increased heart rate, the tension of muscles in preparation for fighting or fleeing, adrenaline release, or dilated pupils. It is very unhealthy to have this Sympathetic Nervous System active at all time. It can create stress, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal issues, weakening of Immune system or endocrine system issues.
To balance this out, we need to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System. But how do we do this when it is indeed an autonomic or involuntary system?
Breathing to Access the Nervous System
Conscious breathing is a way of connecting with our true power and the energy that sustains us.
Although the Autonomic Peripheral Nervous system happens beyond our consciousness, we can access it through conscious breathing. We all breathe automatically, but often due to stressful and busy lifestyles we don’t breathe fully and end up lacking in energy and depleted of vital life force. Learning how to breathe properly is a wonderful tool to keep us feeling energised and vital.
It’s a good practice to set time aside each day to simply breathe – see it as a form of meditation. Sit in a comfortable position and inhale through the nose. Draw the breath deep into your body, expanding the diaphragm and moving your abdomen in and out on each inhale and exhale. Breathe slowly and deeply and exhale completely. Be aware of keeping your muscles relaxed as you breathe.
If you are comfortable, you can also start practicing Sama Vritti pranayama. This is a technique to breathe with the same lengths between the inhale and the exhale. This breathing technique is calming and makes it easier to access the parasympathetic nervous system.
So use your super power – Breath, and have a healthy Nervous System!