Yesterday my son walked into the room with confidence. And announced that he was his brain! I explained to him that in fact, he was his brain and his body, and together they form the mind. All kinds of bodily processes or full-body stretch take place without our conscious control or awareness, and when they are working well, we are well.
Yes, we have as many neurotransmitters in our gut as we do in our brain, so although our big fore-brain thinks it’s us, all the cells of our body are in constant communication with each other and our brain, forming our whole being.
If we become stressed, mentally, or physically, then our body communicates this to our cells, and they divert energy to the brain or muscles and away from cellular maintenance. When the stress ends, the body resumes its operations.
What does stretching out in yoga have to do with our cells, our body, and our brain- which together is us, our mind, our being?
Under stress, our muscles tense up to prepare for action. But if your stress system stays activated over a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to more serious health problems. The constant rush of stress hormones can put a lot of wear and tear on your body, causing it to age more quickly and making it more prone to illness.
During Full Body Yoga Stretch, your brain releases all sorts of chemicals that not only help you relax but also lower your stress and anxiety levels including, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Each of which functions in its own way to help you calm down and feel better.
Full Body Stretch clearly signals to the cells that all is well.
Slow breathing slows our heart rate and also clearly signals that normal operating activities can start again. It also works best with strengthening, as squeezing a foam stress-release ball demonstrates. And of course, a strong back is a healthy one!
When you combine this with meditative breathing techniques, you double the impact of the stress release, cutting the time required in half. ½ hour stretching + ½ hour breathing practice = 1hour stress reduction, 2 steps to happy and healthy for the investment of one!