From birth to about 30 years of age more cells are being produced in the body than are dying. After that the reverse is true. Although the process is minuscule in the beginning, cell death begins to outnumber cell production as life goes on. The process of more cells dying than being produced will eventually bring about death. The process is usually called the "aging process" or senescence.
Senescence continues to slowly increase with advancing years. This is a normal and natural process that all living organisms go through. Despite all of the hoopla out there, there is really no way to reverse the aging process or even stop it but there are things you can do to slow it down.
One of the most important things you can do is learn to relax. Learning to relax is an art as well as a science. It is an art because it takes skill and talent that can only be mastered through practice. It is a science because it takes understanding how your body functions and applying that understanding to the proper actions that suit your body.
Mental stress turns on the sympathetic nervous system and causes your body to produce hormones and enzymes that can be very damaging to cells. For example, adrenaline revs up metabolism in some places and slows it down in others. Adrenaline basically readies the body for action when you are threatened. Another hormone caused by stress is cortisol. This hormone causes your liver to release gobs amount of sugar to help cells make energy. If these hormones are produced too often and for too long, (chronic stress) abnormal cell damage occurs and senescence is enhanced.
Being able to relax slows down the aging process by turning off the sympathetic nervious system and turning on the parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is on adverse conditions that increase the death of cells are quelled. Adrenaline, cortisol and other damaging chemicals are held at a minimum.
One of the best ways to almost instantly turn on the parasympathetic nervous system is pranayama. By taking a deep breath in, holding it for five seconds and then slowly exhaling, stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates from the lower brain and runs down along the trachea and branches out to all the vital organs.
You can increase the vagus reaction even more by humming or saying Om while exhaling. The vibration of the sound while breathing out brings about a relaxing and calming effect throughout the whole body.
In the next post I will discuss more ways you can bring about relaxation. In the meantime stay calm.