Yoga Bliss

Yoga Bliss Cover

How Sensory Input in Yoga Calms & Organizes the Nervous System (Symmetry, 2021).

amazon buynow


View Table of Contents

This book will not only enlighten the yoga community as to the power of the senses on yoga practice but give them a whole new way of understanding both body and behavior in self and, for teachers, in students.


Introduction (excerpt)

On a warm, spring day in 1987, my life changed irrevocably. I tripped on my clogs and lunged headlong down a flight of concrete stairs, crashing onto the right side of my head. The fall compressed and misaligned my skull and threw my whole body out of whack. 

Slowly, over the course of a year, neurological symptoms erupted and hijacked my life: my head felt as if wrapped in a vice and filled with cobwebs; my chest felt constricted and my jaw was clamped and painful from TMJ; my eyes were strained, darting and unfocused; my movements wavered. Touch, light, odors, and noise assaulted my nervous system unmercifully.

I was a mess. A high energy, productive person before the fall, now, along with all the neurological symptoms, I was exhausted and I barely functioned.  

Part memoir and part exploration, Yoga Bliss explores how yoga became my go-to therapy to calm and quiet my nervous system. I also saw my posture and balance improve; muscles and core strengthen; focus and concentration improve; body awareness increase so I felt more grounded and connected to the earth.  

What creates “yoga bliss?”

To many yogis, the answer is spiritual awakening, as described in yoga teachings.

Neuroscience offers a different explanation. It’s about biochemistry.

Yoga postures (asanas) provide much proprioceptive input (sense of body awareness) into the joints and muscles, vestibular input (sense of balance) as the body works against gravity, and deep pressure touch—think bear hug. 

During yoga practice, strong sensory input from these three primary senses releases at once a calming, visceral, and energizing chemical cocktail. 

For a huge DOSE of happiness, you get a release of the four happiness hormones: Dopamine, our reward neurotransmitter; Oxytocin, our “love” hormone; Serotonin, our feel-good neurotransmitter; Endorphins, the brain’s opium. These hormones relax you by lowering cortisol, by increasing oxygen consumption, and by reducing muscle stiffness and tension.

For a huge dose of energy and mild stimulation, you get a release of invigorating adrenaline and norepinephrine-type stimulating compounds. This release happens especially after a strong vestibular hit from difficult inversions, like a headstand, where energy pulses through your limbs, and you feel so alive.

At the same time, alpha and theta waves in the brain increase, quieting the mind and cooling emotions.

That yoga’s extraordinary benefits begin with sensory input is new for many. Few yogis or even yoga teachers are familiar with the terms “vestibular,” proprioceptive,” or “deep pressure touch.”