YogaFit for the Brain with Dr. Bill Larkin

6 05 2012

Post from YogaFit Newsletter:

Grow the Peanut; Shrink the Jelly Beans

At the Palm Springs Conference last May I had the great opportunity to speak to another totally tuned in YogaFit audience who get the significance of what I talk about.

I gave the group three pieces of aluminum foil, two jelly beans, and a peanut.

The participants put two jelly beans in the palm of their hand and closed that hand. The jelly beans are the amygdalae of the old, first to be created, reptilian brain. They are full of emotion, flight-flight, fear, anxiety. This part of the brain has had millions of years to develop in evolution to guard and protect us against tigers and other big harm. These are strong emotions we have inherited.

Wrap one sheet of aluminum foil around the closed hand and there it was, the reptilian brain. Wrap another sheet of additional millions of years of development around that same hand and you have a brain wrapped in millions of neuropathways connected to those jelly beans. Then on top of this brain we put a peanut that is the anterior cingulate; the emotional heart of the brain. It is a switching station that takes all of the signals of the brain that are positive and good and turns down the power of the amygdala from creating way too much negative emotional reacting. Our “peanut” anterior cingulate sits right above the insula of the brain which has mysterious connections to addiction that we are only beginning to understand.

Now add the last layer of aluminum foil that represents another few million years.  It is the frontal lobes. This part of the brain communicates with the anterior cingulate what we think and reason. This part of your brain is just behind your forehead.

But it is the peanut that is in the central position of modulating the thoughts of the frontal lobes and the reactions of the amygdala.

Here is the short of it, grow the anterior cingulate (the peanut) through yoga and it will dump chemicals on the amygdala and cool it down.  Super simple but this is what happens when YogaFit increases the growth of neuropathways that enforce and strengthen the work of the anterior cingulate.

Yoga affects the “heart” of the brain that is the anterior cingulate. It adds to the synchrony of the mind and body and elevates mood. Grow the peanut, shrink the jelly beans; do yoga.

Add to that consciously feeling the better feelings you feel, intensify them, feel more peace, more gratitude, more joy, more hope.  These are all states of mind you produce when you engage in the disciplines and direction in which YogaFit takes you.

Make a conscious effort to increase the positive emotions that the YogaFit experience creates. These emotions that elevate mood affect the “heart of the brain” that is the anterior cingulate we have simulated with a peanut. You are releasing a host of positive chemicals and hormones in the work you do.

Two things are extremely helpful increasing the growth of the anterior cingulate.

1. Believe that it’s happening. Plug-in your belief system to know that you are growing your brain and directing its development in a healthy way. Believing well adds to the elevation of mood and good feeling.

2. Capitalize on the good feelings your magnificent movements, filled with centuries of wisdom create for you. Intensity the good feeling you feel; just feel them more, make them last longer. Recreate these feeling states at other times during day by memory. Carry these states of better feelings with you. You are, all the while, growing the peanut that is the anterior cingulate, the heart of the brain.

Grow the peanut, shrink the jelly beans, do yoga and carry it with you in your memory throughout the day.

The significant breadth of the YogaFit program grows your “peanut” across time and significantly cools down your “jelly beans”.

Dr. Larkin is Director of the Applied Neuroscience Institute and author of Growing the Positive Mind and 12 New Steps for a New Millennium: The UpSpiraLife Group