Sculpting your brain with yoga

Namaste Dear Nurse,

Namaste” is defined as “bowing to the divine in you” in Hinduism.

While I bow to the divinity in you, I acknowledge your struggles with the world we live in today. With so much suffering it can often feel hopeless and painful as your heart fills with anxiety. Does it stop you from achieving what you hope to achieve? Does it make you feel like avoiding the world, your loved ones, your responsibilities or the things you should enjoy most? If that sounds at all familiar to you, then you are not alone. The good news is that you CAN heal. 

Scientists used to believe that your brain stops growing and changing after childhood but this has been proven wrong with further studies. The brain can be molded and changed like plastic and even though genes and outer circumstances can influence it, our thoughts and emotions are strong determining factors for how it will change. This means that you can heal your anxiety with mindful practice.

Even though anxiety is healthy, normal and should be welcomed in most cases (or you might be tempted to take a selfie at the edge of a cliff), a lot of us suffer with disordered anxiety or avoidance anxiety that can have crippling effects on our lives. 

There’s a reason they tell you to face your fears and it goes deeper than just a physical act of defiance against your brain. It actually changes your brain and you will be healthier, more at peace and happier for it…

How your brain thinks: 

The primary function of your brain is to keep you alive and safe. It will act in ways it thinks is best to keep you away from dangerous situations but sometimes those perceived dangers are simply the result of an overactive imagination or a misunderstanding. 

A simplified example:

If your brain managed to escape the grip of a vicious chihuahua by running away once, it will default to that behavior for the rest of your life until you push yourself to interact with one of those little monsters and find that their bark is worse than their bite. It’s only then that your brain might decide that there are other ways to defeat chihuahuas and it develops a new protocol or neural pathway.

Outdated protocol: See Chihuahua>Scream>Run for your life>Keep running for the rest of your life!

New Protocol: See Chihuahua>Engage in high-pitched baby talk>Receive cuddles>Adopt every Chihuahua in the world!

This is self-directed neuroplasticity. You can consciously influence your mind and change your life using methods that help you address your fears. 

One such method is (you guessed it): yoga. Oh the love for yoga is endless. It’s a practice that keeps on giving. Scientific studies prove that yoga and meditation have positive and lasting effects on your brain with regular practice. 

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways and rearrange and organize itself according to how it’s being used. 

Your perception, attitude, thoughts and judgement are important aspects of your yoga practice as it helps you become aware of old and outdated thinking patterns and with practice you can change those patterns to ones that serve you better. You do not need to fight anxiety or escape it. Just sit with it, soothingly breathing into it, as you compassionately and consciously remain present with what scares you…this will fire off new neural pathways…

“What fires together, wires together.” 

Yoga is the creative act of consciously sculpting your own neural pathways, expanding your brain and creating a more joyful and balanced life.  pic.twitter.com/lTOyKiWWjM Click To Tweet

Positive thinking expands your brain.

Negative thinking shrinks it. 

“Commit yourself to a daily practice, your loyalty to that is like a ring on the door. Keep knocking and eventually the joy that lives inside will look out to see who’s there…”

Rumi

As I share this with you, I am reminded that yoga is the path to a blessed life and with that, I’m off to my yoga mat.

Gratitude to you for reminding me of what matters,

Annette Tersigni & Team Yoganurse

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