Getting Some Clarity in Our Lives – Part 2 – Australian School of Meditation and Yoga

If you haven’t read the first part, you’ll find it here!

Exercise to feed the brain

The idea that the brain cannot change has been denied in recent times. It has been discovered that the human brain has the amazing ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells. This ability is known as neuroplasticity.

The environment in which a person lives, as well as the actions of each one, play an important role in this plasticity.

Neuroplasticity occurs in the brain …

1- At the beginning of life: when the immature brain is organized.

2- In case of brain injury: to compensate for lost functions or maximize remaining functions.

3- During adulthood: whenever you learn and memorize something new

While learning new skills such as a new language or learning to play a musical instrument will certainly increase the growth of new brain cells, studies have also found that exercise affects brain plasticity. Exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells, so it is a highly recommended strategy for brain clarity.

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Exercise triggers an interactive cascade of growth factor that has the net effect of stimulating plasticity, improving cognitive function. . . [and] stimulating neurogenesis (Wilcox et al. 2009).

Surprisingly, research has found that even those who have already developed symptoms of dementia can benefit from exercise to improve cognitive function and enable them to be better able to perform activities of daily living.

Yoga breathing for the brain

During exercise, there is an increased supply of oxygen to the blood to the hungry brain of oxygen. How hungry is the oxygen brain? Well, studies show that the brain consumes 20% of its oxygen intake even though it accounts for only 2% of body weight. He is very hungry and very sensitive to oxygen deprivation. That’s why yoga breathing exercises and the more aerobic forms of yoga asanas contribute to our clarity.

There are two ways in which yoga breathing benefits the brain. First, if you feel drowsy and have difficulty concentrating, full yoga breathing causes your breath to be deep in the back of your lungs, helping to awaken your brain and clear your mind. If you are feeling anxious and stressed, simply focusing on breathing without trying to change it will help calm your nervous system and you will be able to think more clearly.

Meditation for clarity

A 2011 study at Harvard University found that mindfulness meditation can change the structure of the brain. Only eight weeks of Mindfulness-based stress reduction increased the areas of the brain that govern learning and memory.

While another recent study found that just a few weeks of meditation training helped to focus and on people’s memory.

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It feeds the brain

An interesting Australian study concluded that “a lower intake of nutrient-dense foods and a higher intake of unhealthy foods are independently associated with a smaller volume of the left hippocampus.”

Hippocampal contraction is associated, among other things, with depression and dementia. In other words junk food not so good for your brain or so good for your peace of mind.

Here is a short list of foods that have passed the cognitive enhancement test:

Blueberries, turmeric, green tea and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as avocados, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.

So … relax, eat healthy, exercise, breathe and meditate. Sounds like a recipe for life!

Find part 1 here.

Per Vrndavan Dasi

Founder and director of Veda Yoga Teacher Training

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