As Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor described in her Ted Talk "My Stoke of Insight", when we "step to the right side of our brains" we move from the me state to the we state. We feel more connected with everything and everyone around us. The right hemisphere of our brains offers us a portal direct into bliss!
And at the same time, without the left hemisphere of the brain (as was the experience of Dr. Taylor when she experienced a massive stroke to the left side of her brain), we wouldn't be able to walk, talk, or define ourselves...becoming as Dr. Taylor describes "a blissful infant in a woman's body."
For many of us who are the orchestrators of "we" - such as in care giving, parenting, volunteering, and occupational compassion workers, sometimes the weight of the "we" can become so fatiguing that the "me" becomes diminished or lost in the collective. The classes this week are designed to stimulate our solar energy for the purpose of re-defining, honouring, and forwarding the me in the we.
The following quote from Marianne Williamson captures this class intent beautifully:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do....And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same...”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles”
Inspired by Pink Shirt Day on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017, I taught a week of classes that celebrated inclusivity. Just as Pink Shirt Day is designed to increase awareness, compassion, and friendliness towards those who may otherwise be discriminated against or marginalized, yoga is also designed to be a practice of inclusivity as the root definition of yoga means to yoke, to unite!
I began each class with a mini-talk about the left and right hemispheres of the brain, the left and right sides of the body, and associated opportunities for health, happiness, and healing from injury and pain by increasing our awareness & inclusivity of both sides!
To strengthen these learnings, I recommended to my students to watch the following 18 minute Ted Talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D (a brain scientists' personal journey with having a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of the brain)
Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight | TED Talk | TED.com
Dr. Taylor's experience is detailed fully in her book “My Stroke of Insight”.
Left Hemisphere of the Brain Right Hemisphere of the Brain
* Motto: Just Do It * Motto: Just Be
* Past and future orientation * Present moment orientation
* Learns and processes info linearly, * Learns and processes info kinaesthetically
methodically, and categorically * Intuitive & sensual (5 senses)
* Communicates through language * Communicates non-verbally (visual)
* Me, myself, and I (the ego) * We are all one
Right Side of the Body Left Side of the Body
* Represents solar energy, masculine energy, * Represents lunar energy, feminine energy,
man, the father, giving out, letting go. woman, the mother, taking in, receptivity.
INCLUSIVE YOGA BREATHING PRACTICES
To balance both sides of the brain and body energy, practice alternate nostril breathing (using your thumb to block off the right nostril), inhale up the left nostril (then release thumb from the right nostril and block off the left nostril) exhale down the right, inhale up the right (then release thumb from left nostril and block off the right nostril), exhale down the left nostril. Repeat several rounds and then pause to notice the effects.
To engage the left hemisphere of the brain (and subsequently stimulate one's energy), try breathing in through the right nostril (using thumb to block off left nostril) and out the opened left. Repeat several rounds and then pause to notice the effects.
To engage the right hemisphere of the brain (and subsequently feel more bliss with the moment; flow state), try breathing in through the left nostril (using thumb to block off right nostril) and out the opened right. Repeat several rounds and then pause to notice the effects.
Filmed on the Panorama Park stage in Deep Cove, here is a 3 minute sample yoga flow. As it is a challenging choreographed sequence of moving standing postures, I would recommend that you practice this flow once you are warmed up with a set of sun salutations or after a sweaty cardio workout! Remember to repeat the flow on your other side!
Special thanks to Keith Dunn for creating this video!
why are you so difficult to master?
Compared to my side-crow and headstand, you're such a disaster!
I must practice, again & again,
Lest I be incomplete.
- Gary Carr, Communications Guru & Yogi Student
Here is a variation on The Serenity Prayer that inspired the "super flow" classes this week:
the power of Water to accept what I cannot change,
the power of Fire for courage to change the things I can,
and the power of Air for the wisdom to know the difference.
I created the following playlist of piano music to accompany the Serenity Super Flow class.
It's one of my favourites and my students who play the piano have been raving about this score!
Registered Clinical Counsellor (MA)