Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A lesson in the nervous system/why there is always a queue for the loo after yoga!

There's always a queue for the bathroom after yoga in the women's changing room, which isn't the case after other more active fitness classes. If you don't do yoga you may have noticed the same thing at night, when you get into bed and then suddenly need to pee.

So what is it about being relaxed that wakes up our bladders and why would it warrant blogging about?!

Well it's to do with our nervous system which has two modes of operation - sympathetic (fight and flight) and parasympathetic (rest and repair). Depending which mode your body is in will suppress certain systems and processes and up regulate others.

In fight or flight mode, which is the mode we're in when we're stressed or physically exerting ourselves, our body suppresses the digestive, immune and excretory systems and invokes the stress response - elevated heart rate and blood pressure and stress hormone production and blood flow directed to the brain and muscles. Great for helping you escape a tiger, not great for digesting your lunch or fighting off infection.

In rest and repair mode, when we're relaxed or asleep, the systems shift to detoxifying, immune function and repairing any damaged cells. This includes excreting toxins, so when you're relaxed you're more likely to go to the toilet and when you're stressed your more likely not pee until you're bladder is totally full and also more likely to be constipated.

It's intuitive really - when you're running away from a tiger the last thing you need is to have to stop for the loo. Unfortunately due to our hectic city lives a lot of us are in fight or flight mode for most of the day and this continuous suppression of immune, detoxification, digestive and repair functions can have a serious impact in our health.

If you find you're getting frequent infections, having difficulty getting over injuries or have digestive issues it's likely you're spending too much time in fight or flight mode and need to make a concerted effort to get more R & R ... time to book a trip to the spa!

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