Breathe in, Breathe out: A prescription for stress

I wish more physicians prescribed yoga to their patients!

Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy... Sounds familiar? That’s called stress, a response our body ignites from its sympathetic nervous system. This is the same system triggered when we are in “fight or flight” mode.

Through focused breathing practiced in yoga, called pranayama, we can control our mind and body to counter this stress response. When we take deep breaths, we are literally sucking more blood into our heart chambers and lungs where it becomes well oxygenated. Where does the blood go next? To every corner of our body, from our head to our little toes.

But wait, there’s more! Take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down several seconds. You have just performed “the Valsalva maneuver.” Through complex mechanisms, this type of breathing exercise stimulates the parasympathetic system triggering your “rest and digest” mode.

Many people come to the ER with an abnormal heart rhythm called Supraventricular Tachycardia which typically presents with heart rates in the 200s. My first line of action to convert these individuals back to a normal heart rate is having them perform the Valsava maneuver. Our body is an incredible organic machine that we can control with pranayama techniques and practice. Come get your daily dose of yogic breaths at BigToe to cure your stress!