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Yoga + Meditation = Better Brain

Yoga + Meditation = Better Brain Function and more energy.

A recent study in Waterloo, Canada, discovered the practice of yoga followed by meditation and then a quiet and 'directed' activity can help the brain’s executive functions, enhance cognitive abilities and boost our ability to control impulsive emotional responses, habitual thinking patterns, and actions.

The study appears in the journal Mindfulness. For the study participants did 25 minutes of Hatha yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation, and 25 minutes of quiet reading.

“Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation both focus the brain’s conscious processing power on a limited number of targets like breathing and posing, and also reduce processing of nonessential information,” said Dr. Peter Hall, associate professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems. “These two functions might have some positive carryover effect in the near-term following the session, such that people are able to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in everyday life."

The research was quoted as saying

“there may be something special about meditation — as opposed to the physical posing — that carries a lot of the cognitive benefits of yoga”

The study also found that mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga were both effective for improving energy levels, but Hatha yoga had significantly more powerful effects than meditation alone.

So don't just move and don't just meditate - Movitate! (You heard it here first!)

Breathing Exercise involving Movement and Meditation. This is a great breath to get energy flowing into your lower body, boost metabolism and get our sexual and creative energies moving!

Diamond breath

1. On something relatively comfortable, lie flat, bring soles of feet together creating a diamond.

2. Push feet strongly together and also downwards into the floor (this will engage your buttocks) letting knees spread open/outwards. Once they are relaxed (ish) it is helpful to also press the knees towards the floor. Aim not to let your butt float off the floor or arch your back (both will want to happen)

3. Head placement is important. Your head may want to come off the floor or your chin will raise (arching your neck) so gently tuck chin in, pressing the back of your head into the floor. You should feel a lengthening of your neck.

4. Begin to breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds. The natural pause at the top and bottom can find its own pace.

5. On the inhale strongly press the outside edges of your feet (which are squeezed together) into the floor as well as trying to get the knees to touch the floor. Relax all your muscles on the exhale. Repeat for 2 minutes.

5. Level 2: Develop the breath to incorporate a butt lift on the inhale, lowering it down on the exhale before finding oneself completely relaxed on the pause of breath between exhale and inhale.

6. Level 3: (This development is a little different.) Keeping your shoulders and butt on the floor, let the spine extend on an inhale.

7. Pressing your feet and knees in to the floor, let the exhale lead the spine first into a neutral position and then into flexion, articulating the spine vertebra by vertebra up into the air. At the top, lengthen your pelvis to create space in-between each vertebra. You can also incorporate an extension at the top, using the end of the exhale to do so. Your butt will be up in the air at this point. If doing this, ensure the extension of the spine is not a lower back' clench' but rather a front of hip and belly lengthening that helps to extend the spine.

8. Feels amazing to allow the pelvis movement whilst up in the air. You can do this by practicing curling your tail/pelvis and extending it over a few breaths as well as developing this into a 'round the world' pelvis rotation. If doing this, practice first on the inhale, while the spine is on the floor. Take it into the exhale, butt off floor position.

9. Develop into final pose where the spine and butt stay off the floor, allowing the inhale and exhale to support pelvic rotations in both directions.

Muscularly you should feel this in your buttocks and back of legs/inner groin. If it goes into the lower back, rest and repeat some of the earlier parts of this breath first for the few times. This will help build up the right muscles in the hip, legs and upper back. As they develop the lower back will naturally strengthen without over working.

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