11 Oct Yoga and Meditation: Keeping the Brain Healthy
Written by: Kathleen Beveridge
Lying on your back, feet hip width apart or wider, begin to notice your breathing. Inhale, the belly rises. Exhale, the belly falls. Your breath moves to the tips of your fingers, tips of your toes, the top of your head. Notice your breath move through you. As you inhale the tide comes up to your toes and as you exhale the tide goes out, drawing your body closer to the ground as the sand pulls away. Gently, the earth cradles your entire body as the tide and your breath moves in and out.
Taking moments for yourself in a world that never stops can be energizing, calming, and exactly what your mind and body need in order to stay healthy. In the same way cat-naps and sleeping at night let your body rest, Meditation and Yoga (moving meditation) provide rest to your brain, giving it time to rejuvenate itself.
One of the best things about yoga is that there are modifications to suit all people, and it is therefore a form of exercise that is accessible to everyone; from babies who do it naturally, to those in palliative care. The physical benefits extend beyond rejuvenation; yoga helps manage heart disease and high blood pressure, which are often associated with Alzheimer’s. Yoga brings a holistic approach to prevention, management and care for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, let’s be serious. Mediation and yoga have been going through a trendy phase, but, yoga has a long and illustrious history, dating back to sometime in the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE. Removing commercialization and lululemon from the equation, we can see yoga as a way to connect the mind and body.
Back to the basics, meditation is a way to rest your brain and become aware of the movement of breath in and out of the body, as all other thoughts melt away. Seated/Non-Moving mediation is, yes, harder than yoga postures, which is why most poses are seen as preparation for Savasana/Corpse Pose. This pose focuses on creating mindful movements and awareness of the effect breathing has on the body. It is the culmination of each class, bringing the practice down to the mat where the body is supported and the focus rests solely on watching the breathe with no distractions.
Studies have shown that mediation actively allows the brain to strengthen itself while fighting the processes that weaken it. Meditation increases grey matter in the brain, which effectively increases the functionality in the brain, creating greater memory, ease in concentration, and generating a built in stress deterrent.
Kathleen Beveridge is Memory Ball’s resident Yogi. She has been practicing yoga for five years, and she trained in LA with Moksha (500 hours), SUPyoga with Kristy Wright (owner of SUPVancouver) and most recently with Monica Cordes for Yoga with Seniors. Her home studio is Moksha Yoga Hamilton.