Guest post from Michelle Newman of Grow Wise Yoga. Coming to Move It Studio Lititz starting January 25: Child + Me Yoga classes and After School Kids Yoga. Register here.
Movement matters. In our modern world, we tend to place a higher value on mental functions like language and reasoning over functions like motor control and body awareness. We see this dynamic playing out in schools when math time takes precedence over recess. Movement is powerfully healing, in more ways than one.
Movement helps to regulate our brains emotionally. Current research is telling us that yoga is like miracle grow for the brain because it helps our brain cells grow, in other words, to be in a state of neuroplasticity. Yoga and other forms of movement help to stimulate a protein inside of our brains called BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor, a crucial biological link between thought, emotions, and movement. A thinking brain is a movement brain. The only way to get a kid to sit still and concentrate is to move first.
Yoga increases hippocampus growth, the part of our brain that stores memory. Yoga releases GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps slow down the release of cortisol (a stress hormone), thus helping to put the breaks on parts of the brain that are overstimulated. When we are able to access feelings of calm and ease, we are not only better able to focus and concentrate, but are better able to pay attention to our own well – being, thus take greater care of ourselves.
Because yoga is a discipline in mind, body and spirit, when we practice, we become more syncrhonised in these areas. When we are more synchronised in mind, body and spirit, we become more present minded. When we are present minded, we gain more awareness of the world around us, including our relationships with other human beings. In recognizing that we are all connected through the vital life force (prana) that flows within and all around us, we begin to understand the energetic effect we have on people through our thoughts, words, and actions. Through this recognition, our relationships become more meaningful and we see very clearly the importance of treating everyone in our lives; friends, colleagues, strangers and family with dignity, respect, and loving kindness. This is the very heart and soul of a yoga practice.
My life’s purpose and my heart’s work is to plant the seeds of the powerful practices of yoga for all of our children. My hope is that they understand that to move is to learn, to move is to grow, and to move is to connect to both themselves and to others. This takes a village, which means we, as their mentors, need these practices in our lives as well. I invite you and your children to grow together through moving, learning and connecting in my Family Yoga Classes and Child + Me Yoga Classes, now being offered in Lititz and downtown Lancaster. You can visit me at www.GrowWiseYoga.com for details on class offerings. I look forward to moving, learning, growing and connecting with you and your family!