So often, we feel better after yoga. We have even had some students joke that we need “Yoga cabs/limos” to drive folks home after class 🙂 That feeling, as we have noted before, is often hard to define, and for scientist who are studying the benefits of yoga practices, has at times been challenging to quantify.
Beyond that which we can see, and even feel, yoga has been found to have some even deeper rooted benefits. In recent years, scientists have begun to look at the benefits of yoga on even the wiring of the brain. If you haven’t learned it yet… I LOVE brains. “Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment” (medicinenet.com) In recent years, the look at the brain has shown that the practice of yoga assists in this near constant rewiring and reworking of the brain.
Our pose(s) of the month, are a great exercises in expanding and enhancing our neuroplasticity. Movements that connect different layers of our being, breath with movement, with mindfulness, cause different areas of the brain to fire and work together. As we engage these different areas of the brain together, we promote the forming of new neural pathways and even strengthen existing ones. As we will dive into in later this month, added challenges to the brain increases our ability to hang onto cells and connections, which promotes healthy brain function.
Sun salutations in particular promote neuroplasticity in that they connect one breath to one movement (if you choose to perform them this way) which highlights different portions of the brain. This increased activity, as we are using different sides of the body, engaging the top and bottom halves of the body simultaneously sparks the different regions of the brain. This movement, literally, keeps us going!
So, unroll your mat, and flow with some poses today that will allow you to keep those beautiful brain cells you have… and maybe even forge some new pathways 🙂 What a way to give back to yourself!