Marlysa Sullivan MPT, E-RYT 500 is an Assistant Professor at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) where she teaches in the integrative science and yoga therapy departments. Marlysa has developed many courses as well as being the founding clinic director for the Masters of Science in Yoga Therapy program at MUIH. Courses she created and currently teach include: Anatomy and Kinesiology, Yoga Perspectives on Heath and Disease, Yoga and the Mind, Yoga for the Chronic Pain, Orthopedic and Neurologic client populations and Physical Activity and Health. She also currently teaches Physiology. At Emory University Marlysa teaches a semester long elective on yoga and mindfulness for physical therapy in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Marlysa is an active participant in research and has been involved in research on yoga for anxiety and on yoga for low back pain at Walter Reed. She has co-authored the book Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain.
In this conversation, Marlysa and Kathryn talk about the nervous system, polyvagal theory, and how we can use this information in the context of yoga and movement practice. Marlysa goes over the basics of the autonomic nervous system and how the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work. She gives examples of how we can use breath and movement together to have specific effects on the nervous system, and how yoga practice naturally does this. Marlysa talks about polyvagal theory, how we can work with the vagus nerve, what it is responsible for, and how to train within the window of tolerance. Kathryn and Marlysa also have a discussion on safe mobilization of the nervous system and using playful active movement to help people orient.