Welcome Re3 Healing!

A special welcome + thanks to
In Yoga Consulting’s newest client!

A special welcome + thanks to

In Yoga Consulting’s newest client:

 

re3 logo high res

In Yoga Consulting is excited and honored to assist Re3 Healing Aesthetics and Wellness in the development of its new wellness center, including contractor recruitment, training, management and scheduling.

Re3 Healing Aesthetics and Wellness’ mission statement parallels our own, to “to improve wellness both inside and out.” In partnership, we aim to offer a wide variety of holistic practices to help nourish the mind, body, and soul to improve the quality of life of Re3’s clients. We acknowledge that each patient is different and requires a thoughtful and dedicated approach to healing.

Re3 and In Yoga’s comprehensive Wellness Program “leads with the leak,” addressing dis-ease as its source. By educating clients on the science and physiology of the body and promoting techniques for self-regulation, In Yoga instructors provide the ‘missing link’ in holistic wellness through a mentally and physically embodied approach.

Following recent discussions on Re3 Healing’s needs related to Wellness Center development, we have agreed to focus on the following areas:

  • Integrative Health Open House
    • Once monthly overview of diverse wellness services and physiological benefits
  • Integrative Health Introductory Series
    • Align schedule with existing 360° 12 week series
  • Wellness Classes + Tiered Memberships
  • 200 Hour Teacher Training Course
    • Facilitate quality therapeutic training of 360° instructors in Sarasota/Venice
    • Summer 2020
  • Therapeutic Private Sessions
  • Yoga Therapy 2021
  • Retreat Options

We look forward to all still to unfold as we kick of the new year with this new opportunity and the same goal: to provide alternative methods of healing to all.

Stay tuned as we expand our offerings at Re3 Healing and throughout the community in Sarasota, FL, Los Angeles, CA and beyond!

 

Love + Light,

Amy and Jelisa

The Ungrateful Prom Queen

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t. And, what’s worse, I didn’t even know I could be anything other than what I thought I was. I didn’t know I could be happier, but I felt like I could – and I should. My stress level was out of control, trying to be someone that not only met, but consistently exceeded others’ expectations. At first it felt like I was doing well accidentally (winning awards, getting straight A’s, and surrounded by friends) but eventually it became harder to maintain a record of excellence. But, this was my identity. I pushed through. Vulnerability isn’t “cool” in any setting and I didn’t want to appear weak or incapable. No one wants to hear, “I can’t handle/don’t want to take this on.” There is a reputation to uphold, grades to get, positions to win.

I was Prom Queen. Did you know that? However, I was also Class President the same year, which made me also” Chief Prom Planner.” Unlike most girls my age, I dreamed of watching the moment I was creating for the King and Queen play out; from their crowns, to their walkway, slow dance and even the variety of roses for the Queen’s bouquet. I never dreamed of being the one on the dance floor, the one receiving the crown and bouquet. The moment was beyond surreal. And, in the end, I felt somehow disappointed. I never had my moment of pride for creating the perfect moment for others. My own strange dream, or vision of what “would” happen never happened. And, somehow, I haven’t been able to feel good about that title ever since.

It’s funny and eerie, the amount of control the brain has in navigating our lives. Connotations, or neuro-pathways, reinforce our initial impression which is based on the “story” we ourselves have created. Soon enough, we create a narrative around our increasing sense of reality or opinion on a certain issue. (Political parties, for example, representing our personal narrative of what is “right” and “true”.) The stronger the neuro-pathway, the easier this idea or thought comes to the front of our minds, automatically assimilated into our personal narrative and view of reality. We can give conscious awareness to break a certain thought pattern, or perhaps a new stronger neuro-pathway of opposing view emerges from self-study, or education. Our emotional reality and even material reality (where/when/why we take action) is dictated by our inherently formed thought patterns.

Prom Queen = shame, embarrassment, undeserving. This is one of many possible realities.

This moment has passed along with many others like it. I could have been more malleable, more open, more willing to participate with, rather than against, the unfolding events before me. I could have enjoyed, thrived, allowed myself to fill with joy, awe and gratitude; but I didn’t.

So next time, I decided, I’m going to be ready.

Well, next time is now.

In an incredibly serendipitous series of events and countless misfortunes along the way, I have found myself with an amazingly compassionate and lovable pitbull – and a yoga studio…In Florida. That’s: I have a yoga studio in Florida.

After ten years in Boston and LA combined, I am back at “home” with my parents living in North Port, FL where the air is clean, the water is warm and the yoga is damn good. I’m bringing LA love and Northeast academia to SW Florida to bring traditional yoga to the people. It’s such a gift, despite any sacrifices along the way. My journey is just beginning. And, it’s my job (in yoga) to recognize that.

There is an opportunity to be grateful in every moment, not just the momentous ones. Regardless of how much you have or how much you’ve received in life, our mental wellness or self-regulation dictates our attainment of happiness. The oh-so-elusive purpose, light and self-compassion that drives every person forward can be found and maintained through practiced awareness cultivated through yoga practice.

Perhaps my “Ah-ha” moment was the idea that I could ever be unhappy in the face of magnificence. I needed to find out why and how I could find more value in every experience in my life. A journey in yoga ensued and I haven’t looked back.

Happiness isn’t in the yoga. It’s in the ability for a person to forgive themselves. To love, challenge and care for themselves. And, to learn to love all others.

I’m proud and privileged to commit to working toward this sense of discovery full-time. It’s a dream. I hear my heart say: Be present. Rejoice. The universe hears all that sh*t you’re throwing out there. Just be. Be happy.

Go easy on yourself. And know that others – even the seemingly “perfect” out there – are going through a similar process. We all just want to be in community, accepted just the way we are. Start with yourself (= meditation, yoga, self-care) and the rest will come.

Woo! Exhausted and exhilarated. So grateful for all those who have supported and stood by me along the way. The journey continues at North Port Yoga

 

xo Love,

Amy

Know Thyself

A huge, hindering theme of the past year (2015) has been, “know thyself.” Without religious context or forceful presentation, the advice or suggestion to better ‘know myself’ was prevalent; and perhaps unsurprisingly, came to a head in the intensely evocative, hazy midst of India. What I might now recall as recovering from a “deep depression,” (relative only in the realm of my own experience), was much less an awakening but a pervasive relief; a relinquishment of some terrible unidentifiable burden of the past. What was I carrying? Pain, fear, grief. I carried them all the way to India. But, they never made it back.

That’s the magic, and the “spirituality” of India. You don’t know what happening when it’s happening. You don’t always know your own pain, your own sadness or overwhelm, before, during or after. It’s a shadow of darkness we avoid like the plague, that contains all of our sadness, confusion, pain. Things you never even knew bothered you suddenly arise. Things you never wanted to remember. Things you usually can’t remember. It’s all buried in us, and is rediscovered and released through the practice of yoga. Yoga is a process of purging, of cleansing and purifying, that challenges our being and threatens immediate gain for the promise of a truer, happier, healthier, more prosperous “you” somewhere down the road. This is my path, as I’ve ridden the tsunami wave of my past year; likely one of the most difficult, and one of the most rewarding of my life. I can’t yet know completely what it all means and how it all ends, but I so welcome the year ahead.

And welcome the beacon that challenges me: KNOW THYSELF

On the first day of the new moon as a new year unfolds, I hope you might find inspiration through your own practice to seek renewal – whatever this means to you. As I’ve also been reminded before, ‘once you face the darkness, there is only light.’ (That means simple, straight-up happiness always. Imagine no mood swings.) Turns out, it’s attainable. But the road is hard as #*&$.

But so, so worth it.

KNOW THYSELF!

Embrace 2016 with open arms. And perhaps you’ll share my commitment to renewal through regular practice, learning, and well practiced self-love. (Manicures, massage, candles always, incense often…) Best. Year. Ever.

With so much love,

Amy

//

Photo Cred: Snapchat by (fellow Yoga Master) Whitney Cerullo on New Years Eve 2015. Judge as you must…This is me in a moment of real happiness. Surrounded by friends, hope and so much love. 🙂

Ommm, Whatcha’ Say? Exploring the Benefits & Basic Physiology of Mantra

Japa yoga. Singing, chanting, recitation. Bhakti yoga, kirtan. Vibrational ecstasy, collective consciousness, energetic purification. Mantra.

It was never my intent to become a mantra celebrating yogini when I left my round-the-clock corporate job to promote individual growth and wellness through yoga. Where does mantra fit into all this? You mean the weird, indigenous, unintelligible ramblings put to India melodies and Bollywood films? Why would I need to do that?

Those were my thoughts on the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training, when I realized that mantra, or japa yoga, was substantially embedded in our eight-week program. Group chanting sessions for 30 minutes, or over an hour at a time in seated meditation; the experience stirred within me an unfamiliar sensation I can only explain as “energetic” or “vibrational” in a very tangible sense. Like recognizing the presence of static electricity manipulating our clothing or the tingling sensation when a hand or limb falls asleep, conversations concerning “energy” or the “subtle body” in yoga are generally referencing a quite tangible presence of an internal energy – comparable with an understanding of the nervous and endocrine systems in Western anatomy – that is roused through the processes of asana, pranayama and meditation, simply by sitting in stillness. Through this process, further catalyzed by one’s control and slowing down of the breath (particularly, the practice of elongating the exhale to twice the length of inhalation), one can feel an internal tingling sensation accompanied by a clear, yet thoughtless bliss. As generations and centuries of ancient texts support (including the oldest found texts in the world, from India as early as 1500 B.C., and the proliferation of “mindfulness” and yoga in contemporary Western society), there is something to be said for practicing this way. Perhaps even something fundamental, physiological, psychological and/or atomically energetic (thereby linking the study of quantum physics to yoga, as well) to be said about yoga, that we have yet to understand or discover as Westerners exploring this tradition.

This conversation is important because, after countless lectures and workshops suggesting the use of mantra for concentration during meditation and to fight anxiety and depression (a hereditary gene in our family), I finally gave in. After much initial resistance to the “eclecticism” or “unusualness” of the sounds and language of mantra, I finally gave way to an understanding of mantra as similar to a church hymn, an album of nature songs, and a global ritual traditions, all wrapped into one. How is that possible? For me, mantra reinforces an inexplicable notion of unity; because, although you may not understand the words, your body eventually feels or experiences the music in ways I never thought possible. It’s not “magical” or even “mystical” necessarily, but mantra inspires and opens one’s creative capacities to help embody feelings of love, compassion and unity, or “oneness.” This occurs through the vibrational, energetic genius of the Sanskrit language (similar to modern Hindi, as Latin is to English). Although Sanskrit it currently a “dead language,” primarily learned and referenced for textual translation (especially in Yoga Studies), the language and grammar itself is arranged to stimulate one’s energetic body (Anandamaya kosa), or in Western terms, mantra stimulates the atoms and molecules within our bodily system to provoke a range of responses on a deep, intrinsic level; often associated as a natural reaction of one’s nervous system. In this way, different mantras may manifest different feelings or sensations based on the language and grammar used, to stimulate your body’s system accordingly. While in India, we were graced with a lecture by Dr. Manju Jain, who currently serves as an international expert and resource in scientists’ exploration of the potential for mantra to heal incurable diseases and aid those with severe mental and physical diagnoses in a highly medical context.

My journey in mantra has been sloppy, inconsistent and hideously flat (referring to my own melodic attempts), but as I continue with renewed zeal and curiosity I better understand how mantra is also referred to as one’s “heart song.” During difficult and stressful times – recently, while cleaning tuna and mac and cheese out of a youngster’s hair, sitting in traffic, suffering through class (we all have our days…), or proactively warding off stress as I feel it building in my throat and stomach – it’s helpful in the moment to know that mantra is always with me. It’s a consistent place of centering, of calm, of peace. (Hey, why not make your favorite slow song your own personal mantra. It’s whatever works for you! Yoga is THE no judgment zone.) You see, when you’re recalling a mantra you can’t also be thinking – this is a physiological response, as your thoughts must cease in order to regain control of your breath (as simple as: inhale/exhale). And so, by interrupting our train of thought and briefly introducing a melody and vibration associated with happiness, calm, patience, and peace, I can better and more quickly draw out these same attributes in myself, for the benefit of myself and many, many unsuspecting others.

If you’d like, try reciting a mantra while holding onto a single bead of your mala. (Search for your local mystic bookstore (why not, right?) or check online, here and elsewhere!) Rotate through the beads to recite your daily/regular mantra, an auspicious 108 times. When you reach the final bead or tassel, it is custom to take a moment to thank the teachers who help you on your way, past and present. Cultivate gratitude, cultivate joy, cultivate love, and it will come right back to you. No kidding. I shit you not.

Google is a wealth of information on the ideas I’ve discussed here, as well as free You Tube videos and guides to different mantras you might explore. The key to choosing your own mantra is simply finding one that feels good and resonates with you, and then sticking to it. This means not switching to a different mantra or dropping off the practice altogether, but trying to recall your mantra in recitation as least once a day, while in seated meditation is ideal. Even 5 or 10 min a day will have a noticeable impact on your daily patience, attitude, and curiosity. Progress and experience only comes with practice.

Over time I’ve found myself opting out of some of my old guilty habits or stressful impulses (such as: overeating, getting angry, or feeling frustrated or stressed, to name a few), and instead have found some kind of solace and comfort in a familiar, happy song, that might just also alter my body and my brain to keep this feeling coming all day, everyday. Whatever mantra has begun for me, I look forward to exploring it further, and of course, sharing my journey with all of you.

Thanks for reading, for asking questions and for seeking out new ways of thinking during a very troubled time in our country and our world. Even in moments of perceived stress, grief and suffering, there is relaxation and happiness available to us. (Really, it’s true! Although, it takes time and practice…) Although mantra may not be the way for everyone, it’s just another “tool in your toolbox” for self-regulating your emotional and mental being, and finding calm and happiness today – I mean in this moment, right now. As other yogis have passed on to me, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share japa yoga with others.

Here is my current practice, which you might consider taking on yourself or adapting to your own style and vibration.

No matter your path, may you find happiness and be greeted with love all along the way! (It’s important to remember, we’re all in this together. There’s no harm in rooting for the other team; when we build community, it only enhances the experience.)

Peace, peace, peace.

Om Shanti Om,

Amy xx

————————————————-

Regular Practice & Resources:

(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM

[to the melody of Deva Premal’s recitation, here)
*Start by sitting in a seated position and singing along just for the length of the song. Repeat, repeat, repeat (even when you don’t feel like it), repeat, repeat, repeat – and see what happens.

  • The same pattern can be applied to others:“Om” (Sacred Syllable, most fundamental sound/vibration of the body)
    “Ram” (Sacred Syllable and chakra seed sound, represents “God,” or generally “the Divine” in this context)
    “Om Shanti” (“Peace”)
    “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave” (“The spirit of all also lies within me” – loose personal translation)
    The Seven Chakra Seed Syllables (Bija Mantra): “Lam Vam Ram Yam Ham Om”
    Gayatri Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
    Namokar Maha Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
  • Artists to follow:Krishna Das (Mantra, Kirtan)
    Deva Primal (Mantra)
    Falguni (Pandora station, instrumental only)
    Maneesh De Moor (Nature/Instrumental only)
    Bon Iver (Not mantra, but my favorite Pandora station for at-home asana)Photo Cred: http://elinatrance.com/

Ommm, Whatcha' Say? Exploring the Benefits & Basic Physiology of Mantra

Japa yoga. Singing, chanting, recitation. Bhakti yoga, kirtan. Vibrational ecstasy, collective consciousness, energetic purification. Mantra.

It was never my intent to become a mantra celebrating yogini when I left my round-the-clock corporate job to promote individual growth and wellness through yoga. Where does mantra fit into all this? You mean the weird, indigenous, unintelligible ramblings put to India melodies and Bollywood films? Why would I need to do that?

Those were my thoughts on the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training, when I realized that mantra, or japa yoga, was substantially embedded in our eight-week program. Group chanting sessions for 30 minutes, or over an hour at a time in seated meditation; the experience stirred within me an unfamiliar sensation I can only explain as “energetic” or “vibrational” in a very tangible sense. Like recognizing the presence of static electricity manipulating our clothing or the tingling sensation when a hand or limb falls asleep, conversations concerning “energy” or the “subtle body” in yoga are generally referencing a quite tangible presence of an internal energy – comparable with an understanding of the nervous and endocrine systems in Western anatomy – that is roused through the processes of asana, pranayama and meditation, simply by sitting in stillness. Through this process, further catalyzed by one’s control and slowing down of the breath (particularly, the practice of elongating the exhale to twice the length of inhalation), one can feel an internal tingling sensation accompanied by a clear, yet thoughtless bliss. As generations and centuries of ancient texts support (including the oldest found texts in the world, from India as early as 1500 B.C., and the proliferation of “mindfulness” and yoga in contemporary Western society), there is something to be said for practicing this way. Perhaps even something fundamental, physiological, psychological and/or atomically energetic (thereby linking the study of quantum physics to yoga, as well) to be said about yoga, that we have yet to understand or discover as Westerners exploring this tradition.

This conversation is important because, after countless lectures and workshops suggesting the use of mantra for concentration during meditation and to fight anxiety and depression (a hereditary gene in our family), I finally gave in. After much initial resistance to the “eclecticism” or “unusualness” of the sounds and language of mantra, I finally gave way to an understanding of mantra as similar to a church hymn, an album of nature songs, and a global ritual traditions, all wrapped into one. How is that possible? For me, mantra reinforces an inexplicable notion of unity; because, although you may not understand the words, your body eventually feels or experiences the music in ways I never thought possible. It’s not “magical” or even “mystical” necessarily, but mantra inspires and opens one’s creative capacities to help embody feelings of love, compassion and unity, or “oneness.” This occurs through the vibrational, energetic genius of the Sanskrit language (similar to modern Hindi, as Latin is to English). Although Sanskrit it currently a “dead language,” primarily learned and referenced for textual translation (especially in Yoga Studies), the language and grammar itself is arranged to stimulate one’s energetic body (Anandamaya kosa), or in Western terms, mantra stimulates the atoms and molecules within our bodily system to provoke a range of responses on a deep, intrinsic level; often associated as a natural reaction of one’s nervous system. In this way, different mantras may manifest different feelings or sensations based on the language and grammar used, to stimulate your body’s system accordingly. While in India, we were graced with a lecture by Dr. Manju Jain, who currently serves as an international expert and resource in scientists’ exploration of the potential for mantra to heal incurable diseases and aid those with severe mental and physical diagnoses in a highly medical context.

My journey in mantra has been sloppy, inconsistent and hideously flat (referring to my own melodic attempts), but as I continue with renewed zeal and curiosity I better understand how mantra is also referred to as one’s “heart song.” During difficult and stressful times – recently, while cleaning tuna and mac and cheese out of a youngster’s hair, sitting in traffic, suffering through class (we all have our days…), or proactively warding off stress as I feel it building in my throat and stomach – it’s helpful in the moment to know that mantra is always with me. It’s a consistent place of centering, of calm, of peace. (Hey, why not make your favorite slow song your own personal mantra. It’s whatever works for you! Yoga is THE no judgment zone.) You see, when you’re recalling a mantra you can’t also be thinking – this is a physiological response, as your thoughts must cease in order to regain control of your breath (as simple as: inhale/exhale). And so, by interrupting our train of thought and briefly introducing a melody and vibration associated with happiness, calm, patience, and peace, I can better and more quickly draw out these same attributes in myself, for the benefit of myself and many, many unsuspecting others.

If you’d like, try reciting a mantra while holding onto a single bead of your mala. (Search for your local mystic bookstore (why not, right?) or check online, here and elsewhere!) Rotate through the beads to recite your daily/regular mantra, an auspicious 108 times. When you reach the final bead or tassel, it is custom to take a moment to thank the teachers who help you on your way, past and present. Cultivate gratitude, cultivate joy, cultivate love, and it will come right back to you. No kidding. I shit you not.

Google is a wealth of information on the ideas I’ve discussed here, as well as free You Tube videos and guides to different mantras you might explore. The key to choosing your own mantra is simply finding one that feels good and resonates with you, and then sticking to it. This means not switching to a different mantra or dropping off the practice altogether, but trying to recall your mantra in recitation as least once a day, while in seated meditation is ideal. Even 5 or 10 min a day will have a noticeable impact on your daily patience, attitude, and curiosity. Progress and experience only comes with practice.

Over time I’ve found myself opting out of some of my old guilty habits or stressful impulses (such as: overeating, getting angry, or feeling frustrated or stressed, to name a few), and instead have found some kind of solace and comfort in a familiar, happy song, that might just also alter my body and my brain to keep this feeling coming all day, everyday. Whatever mantra has begun for me, I look forward to exploring it further, and of course, sharing my journey with all of you.

Thanks for reading, for asking questions and for seeking out new ways of thinking during a very troubled time in our country and our world. Even in moments of perceived stress, grief and suffering, there is relaxation and happiness available to us. (Really, it’s true! Although, it takes time and practice…) Although mantra may not be the way for everyone, it’s just another “tool in your toolbox” for self-regulating your emotional and mental being, and finding calm and happiness today – I mean in this moment, right now. As other yogis have passed on to me, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share japa yoga with others.

Here is my current practice, which you might consider taking on yourself or adapting to your own style and vibration.

No matter your path, may you find happiness and be greeted with love all along the way! (It’s important to remember, we’re all in this together. There’s no harm in rooting for the other team; when we build community, it only enhances the experience.)

Peace, peace, peace.

Om Shanti Om,

Amy xx

————————————————-

Regular Practice & Resources:

(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM

[to the melody of Deva Premal’s recitation, here)
*Start by sitting in a seated position and singing along just for the length of the song. Repeat, repeat, repeat (even when you don’t feel like it), repeat, repeat, repeat – and see what happens.

  • The same pattern can be applied to others:“Om” (Sacred Syllable, most fundamental sound/vibration of the body)
    “Ram” (Sacred Syllable and chakra seed sound, represents “God,” or generally “the Divine” in this context)
    “Om Shanti” (“Peace”)
    “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave” (“The spirit of all also lies within me” – loose personal translation)
    The Seven Chakra Seed Syllables (Bija Mantra): “Lam Vam Ram Yam Ham Om”
    Gayatri Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
    Namokar Maha Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
  • Artists to follow:Krishna Das (Mantra, Kirtan)
    Deva Primal (Mantra)
    Falguni (Pandora station, instrumental only)
    Maneesh De Moor (Nature/Instrumental only)
    Bon Iver (Not mantra, but my favorite Pandora station for at-home asana)Photo Cred: http://elinatrance.com/

The Missing Link: Yoga & Neuroscience

This weekend, I found the “missing link.” As part of LMU’s Masters in Yoga Studies curriculum, there is a pre/co-requisite to enroll in one of several certificate programs. I was excited to enroll in the pilot year of “Yoga, Mindfulness and Social Change,” which features renowned speakers from all over the country with varying expertise within the field. This weekend’s topic was “Yoga & Neuroscience,” and although I’ve always been intrigued (perhaps hereditarily) by psychology and sociology, I was taken aback and truly blown away by the evidence modern neuroscience provides of the true benefits of yoga.

As you might remember, my hope and mission in this program is to discern the socioeconomic benefits of yoga, within a global context. This interest came about through years of courses and hands-on experience in sociology, communications, media relations, cultural studies and international affairs, through which I developed a deep-seated interest in what makes people think the way they do – both as individuals, and as a collective society. Academically speaking, my pursuit is an exploration of individual ideological formation (aka consciousness), as well as of institutionalized methodologies of ideological pervasion. While in college, I was blessed with unique opportunities: to study the pervasion of local culture through public and mainstream media in Australia; to explore (and publish a manuscript on) gender disparity in Latin America as it relates to pervading machismo attitudes and state-controlled transmission of democratic ideals (see “About Me”); and, after college, to work for several years in politics and government affairs for non-profit and private, small and large organizations – to better understand what makes us and others, especially those in “power,” think the way they do. And, (surprisingly to me as well) this journey has led me to yoga studies. Mounting evidence supports my personal belief that yoga, over all other modalities, has the greatest potential to positively reform individual and collective ideology – thereby helping us live happily and helping communities live peacefully, everywhere. Imagine that.

This weekend, I attended two five-hour lectures on “Yoga & Neuroscience” by leading neuroscientists in consciousness formation (see “Lecture Credit” below), and soon found that scientific evidence already supports that yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices stimulate and even grow the part of the brain responsible for processing feelings of compassion, empathy, altruism, interconnectedness and happiness – otherwise known as the “neocortex.” Specifically, I learned that practices such as yoga and meditation, as well as Tai Chi and nature activities, help stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity, or its capability to grow and reshape itself through the movement and connection of neurons. (More simply, neuroplasticity states that the brain is not a fixed form, but is in fact adaptable.) As a result, these practices in particular have been proven to expand and increase activation of the neocortex and overall brain capacity, as well as physically enlarge areas that promote feelings of empathy, compassion and altruism – collectively called our “emphatic response.”

However nice this all sounds, it may feel a bit displaced, as our society currently embodies a paradigm – or pervading ideology – which disproportionately emphasizes the “reptilian” brain, or the part of the brain responsible for primal instincts, basic survival needs, ego and competition, rather than cooperation. Many practitioners and professionals (and scientists) who have been imparted with this knowledge also believe that we [the human race] are in the midst of an evolutionary shift towards global cooperation. More candidly, they articulate a resounding belief that mankind must either learn to cooperate and live harmoniously with one another and with Nature, or fall victim to the harsh realities of disconnectivity and competition (i.e. global warming) for generations to come. As such, we notice widespread discontentment and rebellion in the form of protests, political stalemate and corruption, and civil war around the world and in the States, at levels unprecedented since the last major paradigm shift occurred in the 17th century (following the Industrial Revolution). It’s worthy to note my own belief on this issue is still evolving as I gather more information, and I encourage you also to ask the hard questions and think critically about this and all information you hear about the future of our planet. But, I do believe strongly in the agency and power of individuals to incite change in themselves, and in the world around them; be it on Capitol Hill, in the classroom, or on their yoga mat. And I hope to continue to explore the empirical evidence available now, and that yet to be discovered, which enables us to better understand how yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices benefit you and me, and (why not…) the rest of the world.

On that note, I’d like to dedicate a thought (or several) in recognition and gratitude of Mother Nature and the vast resources and opportunities she provides us: as humans, as Westerners, as yogis, as wilderness explorers, or from whatever perspective most resonates with you. It can be something as simple as a sunset, or as vast as the algorithms of consciousness and science we seek to understand. In solidarity, give thanks!

Peace – Shalom – Om Shanti,

Amy

Videos to Watch:

The Empathic Civilisation (10 minutes: 30 seconds)

How Meditation Works: For Beginners (2 minutes: 50 seconds)

Lecture Credit:

Dr. Jay Kumar (9/27/14)

Dr. Louis Cozolino (9/28/14)

Photo Credit:

Sunrise in the Outback, Alice Springs, Australia (Personal Photo, July 2009)

The Missing Link: Yoga & Neuroscience

This weekend, I found the “missing link.” As part of LMU’s Masters in Yoga Studies curriculum, there is a pre/co-requisite to enroll in one of several certificate programs. I was excited to enroll in the pilot year of “Yoga, Mindfulness and Social Change,” which features renowned speakers from all over the country with varying expertise within the field. This weekend’s topic was “Yoga & Neuroscience,” and although I’ve always been intrigued (perhaps hereditarily) by psychology and sociology, I was taken aback and truly blown away by the evidence modern neuroscience provides of the true benefits of yoga.

As you might remember, my hope and mission in this program is to discern the socioeconomic benefits of yoga, within a global context. This interest came about through years of courses and hands-on experience in sociology, communications, media relations, cultural studies and international affairs, through which I developed a deep-seated interest in what makes people think the way they do – both as individuals, and as a collective society. Academically speaking, my pursuit is an exploration of individual ideological formation (aka consciousness), as well as of institutionalized methodologies of ideological pervasion. While in college, I was blessed with unique opportunities: to study the pervasion of local culture through public and mainstream media in Australia; to explore (and publish a manuscript on) gender disparity in Latin America as it relates to pervading machismo attitudes and state-controlled transmission of democratic ideals (see “About Me”); and, after college, to work for several years in politics and government affairs for non-profit and private, small and large organizations – to better understand what makes us and others, especially those in “power,” think the way they do. And, (surprisingly to me as well) this journey has led me to yoga studies. Mounting evidence supports my personal belief that yoga, over all other modalities, has the greatest potential to positively reform individual and collective ideology – thereby helping us live happily and helping communities live peacefully, everywhere. Imagine that.

This weekend, I attended two five-hour lectures on “Yoga & Neuroscience” by leading neuroscientists in consciousness formation (see “Lecture Credit” below), and soon found that scientific evidence already supports that yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices stimulate and even grow the part of the brain responsible for processing feelings of compassion, empathy, altruism, interconnectedness and happiness – otherwise known as the “neocortex.” Specifically, I learned that practices such as yoga and meditation, as well as Tai Chi and nature activities, help stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity, or its capability to grow and reshape itself through the movement and connection of neurons. (More simply, neuroplasticity states that the brain is not a fixed form, but is in fact adaptable.) As a result, these practices in particular have been proven to expand and increase activation of the neocortex and overall brain capacity, as well as physically enlarge areas that promote feelings of empathy, compassion and altruism – collectively called our “emphatic response.”

However nice this all sounds, it may feel a bit displaced, as our society currently embodies a paradigm – or pervading ideology – which disproportionately emphasizes the “reptilian” brain, or the part of the brain responsible for primal instincts, basic survival needs, ego and competition, rather than cooperation. Many practitioners and professionals (and scientists) who have been imparted with this knowledge also believe that we [the human race] are in the midst of an evolutionary shift towards global cooperation. More candidly, they articulate a resounding belief that mankind must either learn to cooperate and live harmoniously with one another and with Nature, or fall victim to the harsh realities of disconnectivity and competition (i.e. global warming) for generations to come. As such, we notice widespread discontentment and rebellion in the form of protests, political stalemate and corruption, and civil war around the world and in the States, at levels unprecedented since the last major paradigm shift occurred in the 17th century (following the Industrial Revolution). It’s worthy to note my own belief on this issue is still evolving as I gather more information, and I encourage you also to ask the hard questions and think critically about this and all information you hear about the future of our planet. But, I do believe strongly in the agency and power of individuals to incite change in themselves, and in the world around them; be it on Capitol Hill, in the classroom, or on their yoga mat. And I hope to continue to explore the empirical evidence available now, and that yet to be discovered, which enables us to better understand how yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices benefit you and me, and (why not…) the rest of the world.

On that note, I’d like to dedicate a thought (or several) in recognition and gratitude of Mother Nature and the vast resources and opportunities she provides us: as humans, as Westerners, as yogis, as wilderness explorers, or from whatever perspective most resonates with you. It can be something as simple as a sunset, or as vast as the algorithms of consciousness and science we seek to understand. In solidarity, give thanks!

Peace – Shalom – Om Shanti,

Amy

Videos to Watch:

The Empathic Civilisation (10 minutes: 30 seconds)

How Meditation Works: For Beginners (2 minutes: 50 seconds)

Lecture Credit:

Dr. Jay Kumar (9/27/14)

Dr. Louis Cozolino (9/28/14)

Photo Credit:

Sunrise in the Outback, Alice Springs, Australia (Personal Photo, July 2009)