AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

In reaction to neuroception the autonomic nervous system (ANS) influences breathing patterns.

PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
regulates state of REST and DIGEST, relaxation, sleep and regeneration. It is reflected in smoother, slower, more rhytmic and deeper breathing, involving the diaphragm and the lower lungs, The neurobiological basis of the parasympathetic system is the VAGUS NERVE. According to the Polyvagal Theory developed by Dr. Stephen Porges this most recently evolved VENTRAL VAGAL COMPLEX is as well associated with feelings of safety, connection, and social engagement.

SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
increases arousal, alertness and mobilizes to action. It is a primary reaction to danger and distress, the so-called FIGHT or FLIGHT mode.

Breathing speeds up, becomes shallower; centered in the upper chest. We can experience hyperventilation or shortness of breath. Emotions such as anger, rage, irritation and frustration many accompany FIGHT mode; panic, fear, anxiety reflect the FLIGHT mode. Both parts of the ANS function simultaneously and their actions are antagonistic to each other. Most internal organs are innervated by fibers of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

The Polivagal Theory differentiates as well a third branch of ANS, the most ancient DORSAL VAGAL COMPLEX, responsible for the FREEZE - emergency state. It is activated during extreme states of life threat or trauma, leading to immobilization, helplessness, depression, dissociation, and a sense of disconnection-shut down from the environment. It is reflected in irregular, often interrupted breathing patterns and unvoluntary breath holds.

By changing the way we breathe, we can regulate the responses of our Autonomic Nervous System.