Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Yoga for the brain-Part 4- New neural connections and pathways

Today I am wearing red in support of 'International Women's Day', a campaign that highlights gender inequality that still exists today and celebrates the achievement of women.

It used to be thought that we were born with a certain number of brain cells (neurons), but these died slowly over the years, and because new ones could not replace them, we decline as we age.  Now we know this is not the case - we can form new neurons throughout our lives.

Even more exciting we can also form new neural pathways that is connections between neurons in the brain.  This explains why people with brain damage are able to heal and gives us hope that age related decline of brain function may be preventable.  

Especially exciting is scientific research that shows that meditation can actually increase the grey matter in the part of the brain that governs learning and memory. 

The sequence below is a moving meditation. Learning the flows will help you to form new neural connections and by making the sequence into a moving meditation, it will help increase grey matter in the part of the brain that governs learning and memory.

Start by lying in savasana, closing your eyes and taking a few minutes to 'arrive' at your practice.  When you are ready, gently open your eyes and have a stretch.  

Starting with your feet hip distance, big toes touching, head turned to the right and arms by your sides, palms up, breathe in. Breathe out and roll your little toes towards the mat, turn your palms down and roll your head slowly to the left, breathe in and return to your start position.  Continue working with your breath for several moves.

Double Arm/ Leg Raise/Shoulder Bridge - start with your knees bent, heels close to your buttocks, arms by your sides, palms facing down.  Breathe out, draw your knees over your chest, breathe in, take your arms overhead, straighten your legs, pressing your heels towards the ceiling.  Breathe out lower your feet down to the mat, heels close to the buttocks, bring your arms back down by your sides.  Breathe in, lift your hips, take your arms overhead, breathe out, dot your spine down, bring your arms back over, returning to your start position.

Dancing Warrior sequence - start in the middle of your mat, hands in prayer and take your feet wide.  Turn the right leg to the right, toes of the left foot in 45 degrees.  Ladies line up heel to heel, gentlemen front heel to back instep. Inhale bring your arms to shoulder height, exhale bend your front knee, look down the fingers of your right hand for Warrior 2.  Inhale, stretch your right arm up, taking your left arm to your left leg for Reverse Warrior, exhale return to Warrior 2.  Inhale turn to look forward, bring your right elbow to your right thigh, exhale, circle your left arm down and up by your left ear for Side Angle pose.  Inhale, back to Warrior 2, exhale straighten your front knee, turn to face forward, bring your hands to your heart.  Repeat the sequence on the second side then repeat the sequence on both sides.  

Meditative moves-  stand with your feet wider than hip distance, toes turned out, arms by your side. Inhale, take your arms out and up, exhale bend your knees, take your arms out and down, bringing the right hand to rest in the left. Inhale, straighten your legs, draw your hands to your heart, exhale turn your hands over, press your hands down and bend your knees. 
Inhale, straighten your legs, take your arms out and up, exhale bring your bring your arms back down by your sides. Continue for several rounds working with your breath.  

Meditation - sit on a block or a meditation cushion or sit on a chair or lie down.  

Here are the links to few short guided meditations on my YouTube Channel to start you off or simply sit or lie watching your breath:-

'After work meditation'-

'Meditation to connect to your heart'-

'Meditation to revitalise your body and mind'-

'Morning meditation'-

Meditation to help release physical tension-

You may also like:-

'Yoga for the brain-Part 1- Stress'

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

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


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