Metabolism is understood as the body’s ability to change food into energy, or store it as fat. The higher the number of muscle fibres in your body, the more food is used as fuel. Hence the emphasis on having an active lifestyle, or a muscle building fitness programme. Yet we see many wielding big muscles but slow metabolism. That is because there is more to metabolism than this simplistic view.
YOGA TAKES A DEEPER VIEW OF METABOLISM
Metabolism or the energy production system in our body has two aspects. Anabolism which builds new cells and tissue and catabolism which takes care of the dead cells and tissues. This cycle of birth and death is known as metabolism. This balance is maintained by the efficient functioning of the two sides of the nervous system — sympathetic and para-sympathetic. When they work in synchronicity, the body enjoys good health.
The science of yoga revolves around balance. The physiology of the human body is such that it is constantly trying to bring about balance. When this balance tips, especially in the nervous system, the hormones, digestion and immune system go for a toss. This is a serious metabolic dysfunction.
THE METABOLIC MYTH
There is a common misunderstanding that good metabolism is the result of a sharp sympathetic nervous system or a stimulated fight or flight response. Most fitness programmes rely on the sympathetics to achieve weight loss. On the contrary, when stress is beaming from all directions, most diseases and chronic problems result from an over activated sympathetic side.
A sympathetic nervous system pushed into overdrive has dire consequences: a heart rate that remains up, sleep is not restful, joints hurt with widespread inflammation in the body, water retention and a jeopardised digestion. For all your efforts to lose weight, the opposite happens, fat gain. So looks like a perky metabolism is also a pesky one.
Yoga, the classic balancer, seeks equilibrium between the two sides of the nervous system — active and passive. It doesn’t just rely on the sympathetic side to get action going. It equally brings on the para-sympathetic side to put you in a state of “wakeful rest and relaxation”. The stretching, pressing, releasing and relaxing elements inherent to yoga postures, make sure that they get you active, sweating, building muscle density, with your blood pounding and invigorating your whole body, including your internal organs; and you have relaxation penetrating to your deepest internal layers. Hormones start flowing with endorphins flooding your blood stream, and the brain and nervous system unwind to come to a state of “rest and digest”.
Yoga with its emphasis on movement with breath and several breathing techniques is hugely successful in lowering the tone of body function, which leads to your cells receiving slow down signals from the central nervous system. By slowing the breath, yes the metabolism slows down, many accuse yoga of being a metabolic disaster but what it really does is to delay the ageing process. Yoga brings on a state of minimal body metabolism, in which you need less and so produce less energy and less waste needs to be metabolised. Less cell decay keeps the body rejuvenated and working like a pristine machine capable of mastering life and old age.
In Yogahealth classes we use ujjayi breath that specifically works on balancing the thyroid gland – the main regulator of the metabolism. A lot of postures and movements also help to stimulate the thyroid gland.
Source for this post: gulfnews.com