I love it when Eastern and Western approaches to health and wellness overlap, even if they speak entirely different languages.
For example, the Ayurvedic tradition is based on the concept of qualities. It states that various qualities exist in our bodies and all around us in our environment. Some of those qualities are similar, and some are opposite. Since we are constantly interacting with our environment, the qualities in our external environment consistently affect the qualities in our internal environment. When we surround ourselves with the environment and engage in activities that possess the same qualities that we already have in abundance, it creates excess in our systems and can manifest in a variety of physical, physiological and mental-emotional symptoms. “The cornerstone of the approach of Ayurveda to restoring or maintaining health and balance is this: We can intelligently change the qualities and functions of our body by controlling our interactions with our environment and by altering the food we eat.” (A.G. Mohan)
Some Western scientists use the concept of “body budget” to talk about similar ideas. They say that there is a constant juggling act going on between your physiological systems to keep your vital conditions within normal limits. Your body budget is your body’s attempt to balance your internal checks and balances, making sure that if there is a big expenditure of some sort, it is followed by a large deposit to replenish the resources. Everything you do in your daily life and every situation you encounter acts either as a deposit toward the body budget or as a withdrawal. The body is sensitive about the budget going both too low and too high, while negative balances and surpluses usually lead to disease. Your body budget has a direct effect on your affect (the way you feel energetically and emotionally).
Below is a list of articles that explore the concept of body budget and might give you some ideas about what kind of activities, yoga practices, environments and interactions you might choose to avoid depleting your resources and keep your body budget balanced.
Sequence Wiz blog posts on managing your body budget
Some things that you do in your daily life act as deposits toward the body budget, and some act as withdrawals. The body is sensitive about the budget going both too low and too high, while negative balances and surpluses usually lead to disease. Three most direct factors that affect the body budget on a daily basis (the pillars of physiological health) are stress, sleep and energy. Read more >
It’s long been known that anticipating a stressful event makes you feel stressed and anticipating an upcoming fun trip makes you happy; but now science confirms that simply thinking about ANY object, event or scene changes your physiological state and can either drain your energy or replenish it. Your physiological balance constantly fluctuates responding to the energetic demands of the activities you are about to engage in, of events that you anticipate, images that you conjure in your mind, and people that you spend your time with. Read more >
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if our bodies gave us the same kind of information about our own energy reserves and reminded us whenever we needed to replenish them? Except they already do, we are just very skilled at ignoring those signals. And not just that – it seems that we are intent on masking our true physiological state (real state of the checks and balances) so that we don’t notice just how depleted we are. It seems that we are intent on pushing our bodies to the limit with our commitments and general pace of life, using up our resources but not taking enough care to replenish them. Read more >
Application in our yoga practice
Every time you sit down on your yoga mat, your brain (unbeknownst to you) decides how much resources it needs to allocate to this upcoming activity (your yoga practice) – it budgets your resources. To predict that, it weaves together your prior experience, expectations and information about the environment. Based on all that the brain allocates a certain amount of resources that you then use in the course of the yoga practice. Here is an interesting thing – if your brain guessed wrong and you end up using a lot more resources, or not using enough, you have an emotional reaction. Read more >
Everything you subject yourself to in your daily life has some effect on your affect. Your yoga practice can become an effective strategy for managing your body budget. It can help you move toward more pleasant state and closer to the balance point between the hyper-aroused and hypo-aroused states. Clearly, you will need different types of practices for stimulating your energy and unwinding. Read more >
When you are in pain, the body gets stuck in a loop of emergency stress response and continues to cycle through endocrine response (release of adrenaline); sympathetic system activation (fight-flight-or-freeze) and immune response (increased inflammation). This can deplete the resources of the system, agitate it or both. Attending to the three pillars of physiological health – stress, sleep and energy – helps pull the body out of this vicious cycle and supports the healing process. Read more >
Sample yoga practices