The Value of Slowing Down

Have you noticed time is speeding up? It seems that all the labour-saving devices that have been invented to give us more leisure time actually only means that we can cram more things into our busy schedules. We no longer have to chop the wood to cook the meal, heat the water to bathe, grow the veggies or make our own clothes. Not to mention the hours of laborious filing, researching and typing that the computer and internet have helped speed up. But where has that left us? It seems people are busier, more stressed, more anxious and less able to find a balance of relaxation in their lives.

A fast paced life may be exciting at first but for most it will be a precursor for feeling stressed and burning out. This will eventually have a negative impact both on one’s physical and mental health. Stress has been shown to affect our cognitive abilities, our emotional reactions, our memory and our problem solving abilities. Stress impacts on our general health in a big way; in fact medical research shows that at least 90% of illness and disease is related to stress.

The good news however is that meditation and guided relaxation can reduce our stress levels and positively impact our emotional reactivity. Even over a short period of time meditation and guided relaxation can rewire the brain to improve memory and cognition, Let’s have a look at what is happening as we deeply relax.

Levels of Cortisol lower

As we begin to relax there is a decrease in stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It is released into our system when we are stressed to increase our ability to physically cope with whatever is stressing us.  It also curbs non-essential functions so that we can put more energy into dealing with the present threat. It lowers our immune response, suppresses our digestion, reproductive and growth processes. It also communicates with the brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear.

In the perfect world, after the danger has passed our cortisol levels return to normal and everything carries on as it should. In this world however with our fast pace of living, and all the stresses we encounter in our lives and daily on news feeds: the economy, the violence and the political instability, we remain continually on high alert and the cortisol keeps circulating throughout our system. Excess cortisol is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, obesity, reproductive problems, inflammation and much more. It is also associated with anxiety, depression and sleep problems. 

Yoga relaxation and meditation gradually takes us out of that highly alert state and then the body can rid itself of excess cortisol.

Seratonin levels increase

Chronic stress and trauma is said to deplete serotonin levels. Low serotonin can weaken nerve signals in the brain. This is most commonly associated with depression, however there are a wide range of other symptoms which are associated with low serotonin. These include chronic pain, insomnia, chronic fatigue, dementia and ADHD.

Because meditation and guided relaxation melt away the stress that leads to low serotonin and all its dire effect, our brain becomes bathed in what the scientists often call our ‘happy chemical’ which influences us to be more contented and healthy.

Production of GABA increases

Another brilliant effect of slowing down with meditation and guided relaxation is the increased levels of GABA in the brain. GABA is a naturally occurring tranquillising and calming neurotransmitter . It slows down signals between nerve cells and helps us remain calm even in stressful situations by regulating anxiety, lowering muscular tension and stabilizing mood.

Increases the production of oxytocin

Another pleasure hormone in the brain called oxytocin is stimulated during these wonderfully relaxing activities. Oxytocin is a chemical that makes us feel good—safe, secure, calm, and at ease. It regulates blood pressure, reduces pain, and makes our wounds heal faster.

Meditation and Guided Relaxation at ASMY

Whether you want to calm down and relax or spiritually grow you’ll find our Deep Peace classes are a panacea for modern day living. Deep Peace gives you just that a feeling of deep peace, our body gets the chance to fully relax, our mind becomes calm and our heart at peace.

At first the class starts with a simple grounding technique which effortlessly draws you into the present moment away from all the events of the day gone by and those events that are yet to come. Every class is choreographed a little differently according to the teacher, but they all contain the same elements

  • Using our breath we are guided into a full body relaxation so that all our muscles soften and deeply release..
  • Mindfulness is an ancient yoga practice which helps us stand back from the mind and develop the ability to simply become the silent witness of our thoughts and emotions. In this way when something is bothering us we can step back from it and be less affected.
  • Yoga breathing helps to calm the nervous system, quieten the mind and improve our focus ready for meditation.
  • Meditation on transcendental sound (mantra) is like standing under a cool waterfall on a hot dusty day. We feel cleansed, soothed and revitalised.

After experiencing a Deep Peace session most people notice that compared to the start of the session they feel more relaxed, their breath has slowed down a little, their mind is more tranquil and their heart a little more peaceful.

It is well worth scheduling a Deep Peace session into your busy life your body will be thankful, your mind thankful and so will your friends and family. 😊

Deep Peace sessions run at ASMY Mermaid Beach Monday and Wednesday morning at 10.15am and Monday night at 7.30pm.


By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training