What is Neuro Yoga?
Yoga is a powerful tool for all round development and evolution of a Human Being. But in its contemporary form Yoga is being used for very basic purposes like physical strength, flexibility, weight management etc. The true essence of Yoga however is far greater than just bending the body into different shapes and postures.
Yoga has a profound effect on the brain. Neuro Yoga or Brain Yoga is a set of carefully crafted practices which help to:
- Enhance creativity
- Improve productivity
- Increase mental stability
- Develop clarity
- Sharpen thinking ability
- Increase awareness and focus
- Increase Energy
Neuro Yoga is a set of tried and tested practices, which involve Asanas, Pranayamas, Mantra Chanting, Neuro Muscular Practices, Brain Work Exercises and Meditation. But before we can go into the practices let us explore how Neuro Yoga works.
How it works
The brain is one of the largest and most complex organs in the human body. It is the central organ of the human nervous system, and with the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system. The brain consists of the cerebrum, the brainstem and the cerebellum. It controls most of the activities of the body, processing, integrating, and coordinating the information it receives from the sense organs, and making decisions as to the instructions sent to the rest of the body.
For the Brain to undertake these complex tasks efficiently, it is essential that the brain is kept at its best performance all day. Thus the brain needs to be kept well oxygenated, stress free, well hydrated and alert and for this purpose Neuro Yoga plays a vital role.
Effects on the Brain
- Alpha Waves
Alpha waves are neural oscillations at the frequency of 8-13 Hz that are found within the cortex, occipital lobe, and thalamic regions. Specifically, Alpha waves occur while an individual is temporarily idle, but still alert. Alpha frequency is correlated to cognitive performance, including the speed at which information is retrieved from memory. Alpha wave activity also improves word recognition in older adults. Along with cognitive benefits, elevations in alpha wave activity have also been associated with an increased perception of calmness. A research by Department of Physical Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA shows that practicing Asanas followed by Anulom-Vilom or alternate nostril breathing shows a marked increase in the Alpha wave activity in the brain.
This is in line with the experience of calmness, peace and tranquil experienced by participants after Neuro Yoga Sessions. (src)
- Theta Waves
Theta waves (4-7 Hz) ,also known as theta rhythm, occur once a repetitive task becomes autonomous, hardly requiring any focus to be completed. When stimulated, theta waves, similar to alpha waves, have been shown to reduce anxiety.
Research shows increased theta activity during Brahmari Pranayama, which has the associated benefits in anxiety and memory. The study found that theta waves increased by 40 percent, primarily in the parietal region after a session of meditation. This meant that the brain was more deeply relaxed after yoga.(src)
- GABA Levels
Yoga impacts our brain’s GABA levels. GABA is short for gamma-aminobutryic acid, which produce a calming effect similar to of drinking alcohol (without the harmful side effects) Compared to pleasure reading for an hour, a 60-minute yoga session increases GABA levels by 27 percent.(src)
- Gray Matter
Gray matter is located in the cerebral cortex and subcortical areas of the brain. Decreased gray matter can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, poorer pain tolerance and decreased cognitive functioning. Studies conducted at NIH/NCCIH point to the fact that mind-body techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can counteract the brain anatomy affects of chronic pain and there is a causative link between Yoga and the increase of Gray Matter in the brain.
Research also showed that a one hour intensive practice of Hatha Yoga Asanas results in increased blood flow to cerebral cortex, frontal lobes, and midbrain. This is correlated to feeling of alertness and focus.
Practices and Benefits
An AMI Neuro Yoga Session is unique set of practices, crafted to meet the goal of stimulating the brain.
AMI Yoga has specially designed a set of Neuro Muscular Practices, which have a profound effect on the brain. These are dynamic in nature and require neuromuscular coordination. These practices help to test and improve the alertness and speed of the brain activity.
A special Asana series has been developed which includes various classical and adapted poses which help increased blood flow to the head. The practices also include balancing postures, which help to enhance vision, clarity of thought and concentration.
Meditation, Pranayama and Mantra chanting are used as potent tools to further enhance the mental capabilities, while simultaneously eliminating anxiety, stress and hypertension.
A custom designed module of puzzles, tongue twister and quizzes are practiced to challenge the thinking ability and IQ. The session is concluded with Yoga Nidra to induce deep relaxation, and to exercise the visualization power of the brain.
The Surya Namaskar is another practice which has been adopted. This 24 step practice, when performed on a regular basis helps to induce higher energy levels, higher concentration, while at the same time ensuring overall physical fitness. (Watch Below)