My personal yoga journey started 2 years ago, with the intention to up my physical activity. It was purely for my ego (yes I am a Leo). But over time I have discovered how yoga movement shifted my thinking, just by engaging my body in a new way. I soon realized that yoga's gift to me was not having the strongest and most sexy downward dog but to show me a pathway of connection. I could feel my heart beating and sensations in muscles I never knew were there. I discovered my breath and how to use it to steady my mind (trust me on this one, my golf game is on point). My neural connections lit up like a Christmas tree. I harnessed the thought that the more I move and discover my body in new ways, the more movement I have in my brain. I'm not talking about old patterns of movement like anxiety and rumination but new patterns of curiosity and wonder.
This epiphany sparked a desire to unearth the healing integration of movement and mind. I started searching for training across the country that brought the yoga and therapy worlds together. These two worlds seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly so I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a training. Ashley Turner psychotherapist and yoga teacher in Venice Beach, California had pierced this veil. She was facilitating an Advanced Yoga Psychology training so with cautious, excitement (yes you can feel 2 things at once) I signed up. Keep in mind I have NO formal yoga training. Attending this training felt like saying your a chef but only use the microwave.
Day 1 (through 5) started bright and early at 6:45am for an hour of sadanah. Sadanah is a practice of surrendering the ego through practice of meditation, mantras and chanting. I would have never guessed but this was actually one of my favorite parts of the training. It was so refreshing to initiate my day with inward connection. We had to chant in sanskrit and for 108 times. Talk about new neural connections, try saying
asato mā sadgamaya tamasomā jyotir gamaya mrityormāamritam gamaya Oṁ śhānti śhānti śhāntiḥ
From ignorance, lead me to truth; From darkness, lead me to light; From death, lead me to immortality Om peace, peace, peace
Next was 2 hours of asana. Asana is what I think of when I think of yoga, movement and postures. We did this every day and it wasn't easy. It was just the right amount of change, controllable in-congruence to keep my approach networks flowing. Just like any neural pathway, it needs repetition and by the end of day 5 I could feel the impact this process had my mood and physical body.
The afternoon was reserved for lecture and experiential exercises. As always, day 1 is time for introductions. Over the past few years this process has become more and more difficult for me. I don't quite know were it began, but when it is my turn to introduce myself I am flooded with panic. Ashley passed around her spiritual wand as a ceremonial talking stick. Person by person I saw it making its way toward me. My mind went go blank as I attempted to formulate my narrative.
As the spiritual wand was passed to me I paused...................a really long time. I encourage my clients to soothe survival brain with breath so by golly it was my turn to drink up some of that encouragement and breath. I stated my name and where I was from with a shaky voice and long pauses between each phrase. I felt so dumb. I softly reminded myself that it was ok to stumble, make a slip up, be human. I narrowly finished my introduction and as the spiritual wand kept moving I realized something profound. I realized that I forgot who I was. If you don't connect to who you are it sure makes it hard to tell someone about you.
I wasn't only here at this training to create neural connections to yoga and psychology but I was here to reignite the connection to who I am. I was willingly thrown into a world of the unknown, I could barely understand (literally Sanskrit is hard stuff). But with an open heart and mind I discovered deeper parts of myself and aligned deeper with my dharma.
That is all I got in me tonight but be on the lookout for Yoga and the Brain Day 2 to hear more about my discoveries. I promise you won't want to miss day 3.