AYURVEDA AND YOGA –
A PLAY WITH THE AUTONOMUS NERVOUS SYSTEM
Antoaneta Zarkova, MD
Yoga exists since immemorial time and Ayurveda has been created by the ancient rishies more
than 5000 years ago. The main goal of Ayurveda is to preserve human health while the main goal
of Yoga is to achieve spiritual development and realization of the entire human potential.
The ancients possessed amazing knowledge of human physiology. Yoga practices still hide many
secrets concerning the way they work and their complete revelation is still to be achieved.
Functions of the internal organs are controlled by autonomous nervous system. The name
“Autonomous” reflects its independence from our will. It functions automatically without direct
participation of our consciousness. Ayurveda and Yoga possess remarkable methods to
manipulate this system and they have practically overcome its autonomy and have transformed it
into a nervous system controlled by willpower.
Copyright © 2010 Antoaneta Zarkova
Autonomous nervous system has two branches: sympathetic, mainly stimulating and
parasympathetic, mainly relaxing. These two branches function in a dynamic balance to maintain
Sympathetic nervous system is dominant in case of stress and “fight or flight” situations. One is
aggressive and excited. The brain produces hormones of stress, heart rate increases, blood is
redistributed to the active skeletal muscles while the vessels of internal organs are constricted and
the functions of gastrointestinal tract are diminished. This is a general model of response to
psycho emotional stress, fear, pain, fast, cold etc (for more information: (1)).
Stress influences the axis hypothalamus – hypophysis – adrenal cortex and a lot of corticosteroids
are produced. These hormones mediate the adequate response to stressful conditions, but in the
same time considerably suppress immunity. One becomes susceptible to infections, his defense
potential and resistance to