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How to use relaxation to reduce the negative effects of stress, handle traumatic events, prevent overwhelm, and feel safe and secure.

Polyvagal Theory – Ruby Jo Walker

This chart has been put together by Ruby Jo Walker and is based on the work of Stephen Porges. It clearly explains in visual form what happens to us when our stress builds to intolerable levels as it does in trauma.

Yoga, relaxation, and meditation are powerful tools that are now being used by clinicians to help patients gain control over the residue of past trauma and return to being the master of their own lives.

They have shown that along with talking therapies and the appropriate use of drugs that dampen hyperactive alarm systems, traumatic imprints from the past can be transformed by having embodied experiences that directly contradict the helplessness, rage, and collapse that are part of trauma.

Embodied experiences deal directly with traumatic memories that are held in the body. This is achieved by using systems, such as yoga and meditation, that build feelings of relaxation, of being grounded and safe, of being able to trust the present moment, and thereby enable you to restore your ability for connection and joy. As a result, the old traumatic memories are stripped of their emotional intensity so that you are freed from the past and are thereby able to regain a degree of self-mastery.

All the knowledge in the world is not going to help you unless you develop the skill of embodied relaxation. Without developing relaxation your body will remain stuck in tension and hypervigilance, and feelings of relaxation, safety and intimacy will be vague memories.

Porges polyvagal theory

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium.

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How Stress Wrecks Your Brain and What To Do About It

Did you know that chronic, unresolved stress can create an imbalance between the self-aware, rational, decision making, and problem-solving parts of your brain (the pre-frontal cortex) and the emotion and memory controlling parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus)?

Long-term (chronic) stress alters your thinking, emotion, and behavior and over time changes the size, structure, and function of parts of your brain. Chronic stress also shortens the length of your chromosomes and interferes with how your genes express themselves, making you more vulnerable to disease.

How your ability to learn and remember shrinks

The hippocampus, the learning and memory center of the brain, shrinks as a result of chronic stress. Neurons die and the connections between neurons in the hippocampus become weaker, which is detrimental to your memory. Memories become fragmented making it hard for you to keep track of what you are doing. You might have brain fog and be unable to think creatively.

Amygdala-hippocampus
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The One Thing You Can Do To Bring Yoga Into Every Situation

Did you know that you can engage in a yoga posture and a meditative state in almost any situation; while taking a meeting, shopping, working out, or socializing?

Here, we define a yoga posture as any position that enables deeper awareness, embodiment, and connection.

This practice needs no yoga props or special conditions. It only takes a decision to perform, and a skill, which can be learned and cultivated.

In today’s world, the majority of people are stuck in states of contraction (tension) caused by stress, strain, overthinking and overwhelm.

Unchecked contracted states eventuate in illness.

Contraction diminishes your life-force by cutting you off from parts of yourself.

  • Physical contraction cuts one part of the body off from another.
  • Psychological contraction cuts off self-awareness which creates anxiety.
  • Emotional contraction cuts off feeling and connection with others.
  • Spiritual contraction cuts you off from cosmic energies, which causes alienation.

Your feeling states, contracted or relaxed, also create a powerful impression which others can sense, for better or for worse.

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Genetic Stress is Proven – Here’s How You Can Reverse It

Science has proven through epigenetics that we inherit stress from our ancestors and that we absorb our mother’s stress in the womb. It has also proven that what we do today has an immense influence on our genetic expression, whether it develops into wellbeing or disease.

Both stress and relaxation are frequently misunderstood. It is often thought that stress is a minor problem, similar to a light cold, and that relaxation is simply an escape from work through recreation. They are much more than this.

Stress is deeply embedded in the body-mind from birth. You carry the cellular memory of the deep past; the trials and traumas of your ancestors, and the worries and tensions that your mother experienced while you were in her womb.

True relaxation is a skill that inhibits negative genetic expression and triggers positive genetic expression. It short-circuits your predisposition towards disease.

When you understand and practice relaxation you take significant control of your biological and psychological processes. You disrupt both the everyday stresses, and the deep tensions that you’ve carried since birth, and which have formed who you are. This enables regeneration of the body-mind on a cellular level.

Choosing how your genetics express

You had no choice or control over your ancestral inheritance, nor did you have a say in what happened to you in the womb. You inherited strengths and weaknesses from your ancestors, and you developed strengths and weaknesses while you were growing in the womb.

It is our weaknesses that cause us daily stress and, if not managed well, prevent us from dealing with ongoing accumulating pressures. This is what we all are obligated to address if we want a healthy, disease-free life. We have to learn how to use our strengths to manage our weaknesses and if we become skilled enough we can actually transform our weaknesses into strengths.

From a young age, you have made lifestyle choices that have had a positive or negative impact on your life. How well you feel today is a result of how successful you have been in reducing your accumulated daily stresses and combating the stress of your genetic inheritance.

Fortunately, you can still make choices today that will have a very positive impact on the rest your life, and that will alter your genetic vulnerabilities.

You are more powerful than you think

It is crucial to appreciate the immense power you have over your own genetic expression.

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