The protective power of online practices on our nervous system
As we have seen in Quarantined bodies, trauma primarily affects the body, in particular, it impairs the possibility of finding regulation through motion as a response to a threat that persists over time.
The nervous system activates an automatic response that would lead to a fight or
flight response. However, during the lockdown, the energy activated to face the looming threat does not find expression. The body remains activated but stuck, and this brings anxiety and muscle tension.
How can yoga help regulate the nervous system?
Among the various benefits, yoga can act on two important protective factors against trauma: the organized movement of the body and breath, and social engagement.
The practice of asanas and pranayama produces motor patterns alternative to those which, unexpressed, would lead to trauma. The practice, therefore, prevents interrupted fight or flight muscle actions from settling in the body and turning into traumatic patterns.
Social engagement when sharing a common practice with others, even though a screen, signals “security” to our autonomous nervous system. Biologically, in fact, the presence of others who we perceive as safe lowers our level of alertness. Why is it important? Because in conditions of safety, the autonomic nervous system slows down the heartbeat, regulates the breath rhythm, relieves muscle tension and promotes immune system activity.