Friday, 3 March 2017

Yoga for the brain -Part 3- Integrating right and left hemispheres

The two hemispheres of the brain differ in that the right hemisphere leans towards more creative tasks whereas the left hemisphere is more analytical, logical and is the home of your inner critic.  At any given time of the day, one of the hemispheres will be dominant.  You can check which by noticing which nostril you are predominantly breathing through - if you are predominantly breathing through your right nostril, the left side of your brain is most active and vice versa. You can even things up by making fists with your hands and placing  your right hand under your left armpit, your left hand under your right armpit. Take a few breaths and you should find you start breathing evenly through both nostrils.

The right side of your brain also becomes more active if you try new things whereas the left side deals with the more familiar.

In reality most of the things we do require both sides of the brain and both sides of the brain are needed for learning. 

Try the following sequence to integrate right and left hemispheres by cross body stretching and slightly different ways of doing some poses.  You will need a block and a belt or equivalent. We end with a breathing technique to balance right and left hemispheres.  

Start in Savasana allowing a few minutes to arrive at your practice and for your breath to settle.  When you are ready, take a few deep breaths and open your eyes.

Cross body stretch - inhale take your right arm overhead, and press through your left heel for a cross body stretch.  Repeat second side then repeat both sides.  Bend your knees and either roll up to seated or turn onto your right side and come up.



Balancing Cat -   breathe in stretch out your right leg and left arm, breathe out and bring your right knee and left elbow together and repeat 3 more times.  Breathe out to come back to all fours then repeat with the left leg and right arm.  Rest in Extended Child pose then come back to all fours.



Downward Facing Dog twist - breathe out and lift your hips high.  Breathe in and as you breathe out, take hold of your right foot with your left hand and twist to the right.  Hold for a breath or two then breathe in to come back to centre.  Repeat second side then take another Extended Child pose then make your way to standing.



Revolved Triangle start at the back of the mat with the feet at hip distance.  Turn the left toes out to 45 degrees and keep the width between your feet as you step the right foot forward. 
Lift through your kneecaps and bring your hands to your hips.  Ease your right hip back so that your hips line up with the short edge of the mat.  Breathe out an hinge forward pressing the tailbone back and the crown of the head forward.  Take your left hand to a block placed on the big toe side of the foot.  Breathe in and as you breathe out engage your core and rotate to the right.  Raise your right arm if that feels comfortable for you or keep your right hand on your right hip.  Your gaze can be up at the right hand or down at your right big toe. To come out exhale bring your right hand to your hip. inhale release the twist and come up.  Step your feet together and repeat 2nd side.



Standing Forward Bend with Cow Face Arms - stand in the middle of the mat.  If you need a belt place it over your right shoulder.  Breathe in stretch your right arm up, breathe out bend your elbow and take your right hand down your back.  Breathe in and stretch your left arm forward, breathe out externally rotate your left arm up your back so that your hands meet in a yogic grip, fingers curled around each other.  If you cannot reach, hold onto your belt.  Once your arms are in position, take your left foot to the outside of the right.  Breathe in and lift your chest, breathe out and hinge forward from the groin (head no lower than heart if you have blood pressure or heart issues). Hold for a breath or two then breathe in to come up slowly.



Eagle - start in Tadasana.  Take your right arm under the left and bend both elbows.  If your arms allow, take the left arm in front of the right and join the palms. To modify the arm position you can have the backs of the hands together with the right arm under the left, or simply have the elbows and palms together. Lift the elbows level with the shoulders and find a drishti, a gaze point.  Softly bend both knees and take your weight into your left foot.  Take your right foot to the outside of the left, or take the right foot to the outside of the left calf or tuck the right foot behind the left calf. To come out of the pose, stretch the arms and right leg out as if you are flying like an eagle. Repeat second side.



Reclined twist - come down onto the mat and lie with your legs outstretched.  Bend your right knee and taking hold of the right knee with your left hand, release your right knee down to the left.  If you have no problems with your neck, turn your head to right.  if your right knee does not reach the mat, you can support it with a cushion or a block.  Breathe in and come back to centre, extend your right leg and repeat second side.  Hug your knees in and rock from side to side.  Come to seated.



Alternate Nostril Breathing - sit on a block in a comfortable cross-legged position.  Rest the back of your left hand on your left thigh, first finger and thumb joined. Bring your first two fingers into your right palm and hover your right thumb over your right nostril, your right ring finger over your left nostril.  Close your eyes and take a few centering breaths then when you are ready close your right nostril and breath in through the left.  Close your left nostril as you open your right nostril and breathe out through your right nostril. Breathe in through your right nostril then close your right nostril as you open your left nostril and breath out through your left nostril.  Breathe in through your left nostril and continue.  Continue to breathe in this way for several minutes finishing by breathing out through your left nostril then release the back of your right hand to your right thigh first finger and thumb joined. Notice the effect of the breathing technique then when you are ready take a few deep breaths and open your eyes.


You may also like:-

'Yoga for the brain-Part 1- Stress'

'Yoga for the brain- Part 2- Nourishing the brain'

'Mudra to energise the brain'

Namaste,





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