What is meant by “Sympathetic Dominance”?

What does “Sympathetic Dominant” mean?

When a person tends towards anxiety or fear, they are essentially living their life in a state of fight or flight. This, you could argue is “Sympathetic Dominance”.

This is a constant sense that some sort of threat is imminent. Maybe they can’t quite put their finger on it as there is often no reason for the feeling, but in many ways, perceived threats are harder to deal with than actual threats!

Our system responds to these feelings by initiating all the physiological reactions that it would if we really were in danger and needed to protect ourselves.

The muscles are often short, tight and tense. Breathing is shallow and laboured, the chest and stomach are tight, blood pressure and heart rate might be higher than average and blood circulation stymied due to blood vessel constriction (a feeling of tingly skin, particularly at the extremities). Digestion and restful sleep might also be a constant problem.

Perceived threats can manifest into more serious emotional problems over time if we don’t deal with them. It could become an obsession with food ideals or cleanliness; a phobia, such as a fear of flying, open spaces or small spaces, or a bug of some sort. It could develop into an unwillingness to let go of stuff (hoarding). If an imaginary threat grows wings, it might even morph into paranoia and delusions about the world or other people and what we believe we don’t know and/or can’t control (conspiracy theorism).

Sympathetic dominance is not a healthy way to live because the body just does not work properly in this state! It’s on sleep mode! A functional human system requires para-sympathetic dominance in order to thrive.

The secret to living Yoga (as opposed to simply “doing” Yoga) is to do as much as you can WITHOUT constantly over-stimulating the SNS. Observe physical tension and release it, observe breath and slow it down. Observe fear and sit with it. Unpack it. Be present, and stop rushing. Do movement-based meditation such as Yoga, beach walking and ocean swimming.

Yeah, sure, busy-ness and over-doing are habits worn like badges of honour, but SNS dominance is probably the source of nearly every chronic and annoying condition and many serious, life-threatening illnesses.

So what do you choose? 🕉❤️🤷‍♀️🙏