A new study published today by York University in Toronto, Canada, finds that practicing yoga twice a week diminished pain in women with fibromyalgia. Yoga helps manage the subjective experience of pain by teaching how to observe thoughts and sensations as fleeting things that do not define the self. After practicing twice weekly for eight weeks, subjects reported “catastrophizing” about pain less, felt less helpless, and also reported less pain.
The practice of yoga is absolutely correlated with stimulating the para-sympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system responsible for relaxation, lowered blood pressure, and deeper breathing. By contrast, our modern lives can be defined as having a sympathetic nervous system style: rushing, anxiety, pressure, competition, poor food and lifestyle choices, and insufficient sleep keep us in a state of stress hormone overload. The “flight or fight” sympathetic nervous system can get stuck in the “on” position when we are under a barrage of stress, bad food choices, cellular devices, and insufficient sleep.
The regular practice of yoga can help to bring the system into balance, reducing pain, reducing stress, and giving your adrenal glands a chance to rest. When the sympathetic nervous system dominates, the adrenals pump out cortisol all day (which they are not supposed to do; they reach their maximum function about 30-40 minutes after we wake up), leading to a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue.
Practice yoga to keep your nervous system in a state of balance and good health!