Yoga For Life photo June 10

Back row, from left: Bharti Patel and Dana Cullifer. Middle row, Patricia Culliver. Front row: Rachel Snow and Terri Sinclair.

What we desire to learn in Yoga involves facing our personal reality about body/mind/emotions and retraining “muscle memory.” Scientific research into “Neuroplasticity” or opening new brain patterns with repetition of activities such as in Yoga and strength training, influences the way the body is shaped. Re-shaping the body begins in the mind, creating new neuron pathways that moves beyond past habit patterns lodged in the brain and activated in the body.

A dedicated Yoga practice opens physical/mental/emotional awareness of external/internal bodies. Initiating change begins by cleaning out clutter in the mind, directly facing negative habit patterns and replacing negative results actualized in the body. The first step in overcoming a problem is to recognize that you have a problem. The same can be said of starting a new habit. Positive change is led by awakened awareness and practicing a new way.

The premise of Neuroplasticity is that the physical body retains a memory of what the mind experiences, and the mind, or brain and nervous system, retain a memory of what the body experiences.

Linda Fehr, author of “Muscle Memory” says, “It is basically NOT a type of memory which is stored in a body of a person but it is a memory which is actually stored in the brain of a person. Neuro pathways creating old or new ways, are created by repetition.” (

According to Michael Merzenich from the book, “The Brain that Changes Itself” says, “Practicing a new habit under the right conditions, can change hundreds of millions and possibly billions of the connections between the nerve cells in our neural pathways. The human brain is made up of an estimated 100 billion neurons making a total of 100 trillion neural connections.”

“Neuroplasticity” means that new pathways in the brain are created and through focused practice can change habits, thoughts and routines. The plasticity in the brain can link neurons together in new ways and create new pathways.

Yoga practitioners in the Gold’s Gym 8:45 a.m. class, Wednesday, demonstrate “Extended Side Angle Pose” to create awareness of lengthening the spine and muscles, breaking old patterns of slumping. The emphasis in the pose is to extend one side of the body long, reaching the opposite arm over the ear as one leg is bent and the other one stretched out.

Notice the lengthening of the “side body” including the legs, arms and core, then repeat the pose two times or more on each side, holding it for several breaths.

The mind is a magical wand that only needs to be activated in a direction that will improve health and wellness. Practice and repetition with repeated long inhales and exhales with concentration is a beginning. Join a Yoga class and be a part of the process!


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