We all know the feeling. Something happens to your child at school, or you walk down a certain street; you smell something that reminds you of a childhood memory you’d rather forget, or someone at work speaks to you in that tone, and BOOM! Your body goes on high alert. Sweat pours out of your armpits, your breathing becomes shallow, your face gets hot, your heart pounds hard enough to crack your chest bone. Your mind might be urging you to, “Calm down! Calm down! Stay calm! It will be ok!” But, the body doesn’t understand. The body has only learned one reaction in the face of…insert circumstance here. 


In her recently published book called, How To Do The Work, psychologist Nicole LePera reveals an encouraging new truth: you can heal your body via your mind and your mind via your body. Dr. LePera termed this phenomenon, Top-Down and Bottom-Up. Top-down and bottom-up processes are about healing the vagus nerve. This is a bidirectional nerve that exists as the communication pathway from your body to your brain and your brain to your body. These messages communicated between brain and body are automatic, conditioned responses to stress and trauma, and can significantly hinder your quality of life. However, there are many ways to improve vagal tone and manage automatic responses to stress. (Lepera, Nicole, How To Do The Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self. Harper Collins, 2021.) 


According to Dr. LePera, an example of a top-down healing practice is meditation. A bottom-up practice uses the power of the body to affect your mind. Breathwork, cardiovascular exercise, cold therapy, and yoga are all examples of bottom-up healing. In her book, Dr. LePera focuses particularly on yoga as a way to directly activate the vagus nerve by “widening our window” of stress tolerance. She emphasizes, “This is the key to healing: learning the power of your body and mind by testing their outer limits. As we take on deeper and more taxing (yoga) postures, our vagus nerve learns how to control our stress response and return more readily to the state of calmness and safety where healing happens.”  (Lepera, Nicole, PhD. How To Do The Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self. Harper Collins, 2021.) 


Calmness and safety. Somethings we all could use a little more of. Begin your mind-body healing journey right here at Beechmont. Check out our yoga class schedule and find the deep exhale you need today. Ahhhhhhh…