Last month I continued my education in inversions in Boulder, Colorado. This training, taught by my teacher and the Creator of Kaiut Yoga, Francisco Kaiut, printed a deeper memory into my brain cells, perhaps in my brain protein called REST. Yes, in my brain. And yes, REST. Not only my body and my mind, but my brain was also chemically affected.
Besides other parts and organs of our body, inversions impact our brain and brain activity and the results are extremely positive. The Kaiut approach has made an impact in my own system and my experience in Boulder reassured me that the method is effective and extremely beneficial. I’ve never doubted it, but it’s always good to go deeper in our understating and knowledge.
We usually get onto our yoga mat with our body first. The body pauses to receive the practice. We say to ourselves: I am here. But then comes the brain that is still very active, with the mind focused on the world outside. That was initially me when I first got to Boulder. Even being away from my home and business, instead of enjoying the break of my routine, my brain was still in a constant evaluation of everything: life, work, responsibilities, weather, altitude, habits.
Then came the practice. I started the continuing education on inversions and faced my mat. I got on the mat, laid down on my back and had my legs up on the wall. First day. Here I am. I noticed my body first. I was feeling well. Then I noticed my brain. I noticed an overactive brain. After this assessment was made, I closed my eyes and started the practice.
As I laid on the mat and started to let the practice take control, the dualism between my body and my brain started to disappear. I gently started to accommodate my body into each inversion pose and dared my body to use the practice in a deeper level to decrease the activity in my brain. I wanted to touch the assessment and modify. Yes, I really dared myself. I vividly remember being upside down, with my legs over my head on the floor, feeling the entire curvature of my spine and looking between my thighs, closing my eyes and silently saying to myself: I am here to reprogram my system and see how my practice can access my brain. I was committed to make the shift. All in a loving and kind approach. I was testing the whole thing all over again!
Throughout the 3 day practice, waives of sensations, feelings and thoughts came and went. Every time I faced the mat, I did the same assessment of my body and brain just to notice where I was at in that moment and how active my brain was. Each day I slowly let the process happen.
Then the shift came. It wasn’t overnight, but a gradual process. I journaled daily to discover how the process was operating inside my system. During those 3 days, I wrote about my state of mind at the beginning and end of the practice with the purpose of capturing the evolving process. It was beautiful and powerful to feel and notice the difference and progress day by day and how my brain was responding to the practice.
It all happened because of the right approach: a combination of the yoga method, the teaching skills, and the quality of the practice. The result of this combination is the positive impact on my body and brain system.
But how and why did the shift happen?
The inversions taught by Francisco Kaiut accessed different parts of my body. As I inverted the direction of my feet, legs, head, spine and heart from the ground, I allowed the gravity to operate its natural effects on my system: changing the rhythm in the heart beat, blood flow and brain activity. Through the practice of inversions, using the body and exploring different angles of each pose, we access our autonomic nervous system on its parasympathetic mode and the shift occurs. We are being stimulated to rest, digest and relax.
I also noticed that I was feeling safe to explore with deepness into my own practice. Being guided by my teacher, I could access the curvature of my spine with more exposure, giving stimulation to my spinal cord and accessing my central nervous system with straight effects to my brain. It was vivid in my body the sensation of fluids moving towards my spine and as I rested on the mat with the spine back to its natural shape, I could feel the communication between these two amazing parts of the body: the spine and brain. Resting on the mat after getting deeper into each pose gave me the sensation that my organs were talking with my body structure, rearranging spaces and reshaping forms. I couldn’t be more fascinated with the transformation.
I can assure you from my own perspective and experience that we can live better and perhaps longer when our brains are rested. We focus better, we think better and we make better choices. We deal better with stress, we sleep better and we find joy in our daily life.
Science is also searching for the benefits of a quieter brain in human’s quality of life. A recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed that excessive brain activity is linked to a shorter life. The study led by Bruce Yankner, a professor of genetics and neurology at Harvard, finds that limiting neural activity is good for healthy aging and a key for a longer life could be a quieter brain without too much neural activity.
In this study, researchers at Harvard Medical School analyzed brain tissue donated to human brain banks by people ranging in age from their 60s and 70s to centenarians who lived to be 100 or older. They found that people who died before their mid-80s had lower levels of a protein called REST in their brains compared to those that lived to be much older. REST packs down genes involved in sparking brain activity and has already been shown to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease.
Calico Labs Vice President, Cynthia Kenyon, who praised the study, says that “overactivity out-of-control excitation is not good for the brain. You want the neurons to be active, when and where you want them to be active, not to be just generally firing off”. However, she thinks the nervous system is just one of the many tissues that have an influence on life span.
Life with Kaiut Yoga. The practice that impacts our body, brain, and life!
Cheers to living to 100 with lots of REST inside!
By Christina Siepiela
Co-founder and Teacher at
Kaiut Yoga Dallas School