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Feeling stressed? Take control and harness the power of your parasympathetic nervous system

Even if you finished school many years ago, September can still feel like the start of the year. Kids are back to school, summer is on it's way out and Christmas is creeping up on us. This time of year feels like a good time to reset, recharge and take control, but instead, many of us find ourselves stressed and wishing we could get back outside to sunbathe.

If you're feeling September stress, read on to discover the difference between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous-systems, and how you can use yoga to take control of your life from a place of calm and focus.

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Brain training

Yoga and meditation, have been proven to improve focus and motivation, essential in achieving goals, whether athletic or otherwise. Yoga has also been shown to improve sleep, overall mood and emotional state, and encourage feelings of wholeness and belonging, promoting a positive mindset. Yoga also encourages us to take control of our nervous systems, giving us the tools we need to approach life from a calm, controlled place.

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Sympathetic nervous system

This nervous system is being worked when we are in a state of stress. It is our natural 'fight or flight' state, and is usually experienced with high heart rate, muscle tension and negative thought patterns. Being engaged in this state leaves us tired and distracted, and for prolonged periods can eventually lead to burnout.

Whether you are planning to do an Iron Man or you've got an important presentation at work, it is likely that you will automatically engage your sympathetic nervous system.

Yoga allows us to move our mind and body out of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic nervous system.

Parasympathetic nervous system

The parasympathetic nervous system is also referred to as the rest and digest state. It is engaged when we are in a state of calm and is usually experienced with slow heart rate, steady controlled breathing and relaxed muscles. This is the state of mind that successfully keeps us creative, happy and focused.

This is the optimum state for a healthy and happy life.

Harnessing the power of your parasympathetic nervous system

We don't often find ourselves face-to-face with a sabre-toothed tiger or in a life-or-death situation that would require us to enter the fight or flight state.

However, perceived threats naturally make us engage our sympathetic nervous system. Whether we are simply busy, have a stressful job or have a difficult home environment, our bodies can feel threatened, resulting in high-tension, negative emotions and increased heart rate due to stress.

Yoga teaches us to gain control over our mental and physical state, allowing us to keep our parasympathetic nervous system engaged, no matter what life throws at us.

The ability to control our reactions provides us with balance, emotional control and a more positive state-of-mind. Maintaining this controlled state, gives us the opportunity to overcome any challenges or obstacles we are faced with from a place of positivity, calm and focus.

Get ready to face winter with a smile on your face.

Read more about how yoga can help your mental health >>

Read how you can use the power of your breath to reduce stress >>

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