I was reading one of my yoga textbooks this morning and a passage blew my mind (blow and mind are intended puns – more on that in a sec). In the 90s we were constantly reminded to take care of our brains thanks to anti-drug PSAs and my pals Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod from Body Break. As we’ve entered into an era when taking care of our minds is more important than ever –thanks to loss of brain cells as we age and the new reality of competing with technology and global talent for jobs – it seems as though we’ve forgotten how incredible, fascinating and vital our brains are. Vital to our health, well-being, creativity, happiness and even bank account.
A quick reminder of how awesome your brain is:
- The brain and nervous system is nothing short of miraculous. The cerebral cortex contains billions of neurons and glial cells making up the substance of the brain. Neurons process information and have the ability to permanently change or deform, known as plasticity. So we can keep learning new things (almost) our entire lives.
- The brain dictates our happiness or lack there of. The deep limbic system of the brain governs our ability to bond and operates our mood control center. The more active the system, the more negative a person’s outlook is. By sleeping and meditating, you can change your mood.
- Speaking of sleep, this is when your brain consolidates knowledge as the neurons organize the day’s stimuli during deep sleep by randomly firing off the most recently used neuron pathways. Want to remember more? All you have to do is get more zzzs.
- Our bain doesn’t need words to interpret life. It interprets vibrations and electrical frequencies as feelings. Whhhaaatttt??!!
- The body emits light, sound, heat and electromagnetic fields, and like other matter, has a gravitational field. The pineal and pituitary glands’ electromagnetic properties allow us to “tune in” to the environment and into the paranormal.
That’s crazy talk. So why don’t we take better care of our brains?
- Drugs, particularly cocaine, prevent the parasympathetic nervous system from doing it’s job. The parasympathetic system is the body’s braking system, regulating key functions like breath, digestion, circulation and nerve relaxation. It is vital for handling stress and recovery.
- Marijuana severely affects the functioning of the brain. It is like running an engine without oil, since it interferes with spinal fluid circulation. It also lowers testosterone levels and reduces the number of connections between neutrons in areas that affect memory and motivation.
HELPING YOUR BRAIN
So now that I’ve convinced you to pass on the drugs at your next party, here’s what you can do to help boost your brain’s functioning:
- Foods and nutrients: calcium, magnesium, olives, lecithin, celery, cucumber juice, yogi tea, ginger, bananas and onions (see my green goodness juice recipe here)
- Exercise: As we age we lose brain cells. Exercise increases the generation of new cells.
- Yoga: Yoga balances the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and increases energy moving through particular nerve pathways
- Meditations that include eye focus, mudra and chanting aloud actively involve the function of the thalamus (if you want to start a chanting practice, read my tips here)
- Pranayama (breathing) like Breath of Fire stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and Alternate Nostril Breathing balances the activity of the two brain hemispheres, gives an experience of altered receptivity and readiness for action and integrates ideas into action
Use that cerebrum to consciously take care of that beautiful brain of yours.