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Fight, flight or freeze? Our response to chronic stress or trauma.

This is a brief summary, taken from my notes of my specialised 5 week neurobiology informed yin yoga therapy programme. There are a variety of practices and hands on approaches that will support the release of chronic stress and/or trauma, my programme aims to give an introduction to how we can use Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra meditation, Pranayama, Flower Remedies, Aromatherapy and Massage techniques to help regulate the nervous system, and to calm and reassure.

The amygdala is one of the key players in the chronic stress or traumatic response of the nervous system.

The amygdala activates the fight, flight or freeze responses with increased heart rate and blood pressure and stimulated release of certain hormones. It provides automatic, rapid and unconscious reaction to thoughts or events.  

The amygdala activates whenever, through our senses, we experience anything that reminds us of a past trauma. Thus, the way to deal with current triggers is to go back to the point of the trauma, access the stored emotion and release it from the body. The amygdala will no longer feel excess emotion around that event and it will no longer be a trigger towards a certain behaviour in the future.

After the amygdala sends a distress signal, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves to the adrenal glands. These glands respond by pumping the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. As epinephrine circulates through the body, it brings on several physiological changes. The heart beats faster than normal, pushing blood to the muscles, heart, and other vital organs.

As the initial surge of epinephrine subsides, the hypothalamus activates the second component of the stress response system — known as the HPA axis. This network consists of the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. The HPA axis relies on a series of hormonal signals to keep the sympathetic nervous system — the “gas pedal” — pressed down, triggering the release of cortisol. The body thus stays revved up and on high alert. When the threat passes, cortisol levels fall. The parasympathetic nervous system — the “brake” — then dampens the stress response.

I aim to host the 5 week Yin Yoga Therapy Programme 3 or 4 times a year. New dates are posted under Yin Yoga or Yoga Nidra on my website.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an initial conversation, if you feel I can support you through your challenges.