If you are reading this you are possibly someone who is interested in fitness as a part of their natural lifestyle and you know that when you proactively dedicate time to yourself, you will create a positive and healthy future for the years ahead.
But, sometimes we slip up. Sometimes we end up on a break and need a little encouragement.
So, let’s consider how scientific understanding of how the brain works. Not so long ago it was thought your brain was hard-wired and finalized by the age of five or six. But in the last 15 years our understanding of how our brains work has changed and we know our brains are a far more open system than we had imagined.
Norman Doidge, psychiatrist and author of “The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries From the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.” explains neuroplasticity this way. “It’s that property of the brain that allows it to change its structure and function in response to activity and mental experience. And it’s a revolutionary discovery, because for many decades it was believed that the circuitry of the brain was formed and finalized in early childhood.”
Neuroplasticity has shown us that your brain is in a constant state of reorganisation. The new connections it forms depends on how it is being used. Repeated, consistent patterns created by new experiences will change your brain. (You can think of your brain as a bit like a muscle – the worked-out bits get stronger while the unused parts get weaker.)
Considering the adaptability of your brain, it becomes important to fortify positive patterns.
Funnily enough, the ancient yogis knew this 2,500 years ago. The texts they left us state that consistent practice was the key to success. And that you WILL be successful if you practice consistently.
Consistently coming to class will affect:
how good you feel
how strong you are
how smoothly you glide through life
how well you live in your old age
how stable your weight is
how well you deal with your emotions
how light you feel in your heart
how integrated and harmonious you feel on all levels. (and being in harmony feels so goooood!)
All these benefits are far-reaching. They carry through to your life out of the studio.
Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First
Making time for your own wellbeing you will always allow you to be more present for your loved ones and you will tend to your tasks with more grace and gratitude.
Whether you are in a pilates, barre, cardio, aerial or yoga class, magic happens when you connect your intention and concentration with your breath and physical movement. This is backed up by our knowledge of neuroplasticity as over time you form a positive association and it feels good. There’s even a catchphrase for how the neural pathways behave – ‘What Fires Together, Wires Together.”
This is why with some practice you can quickly ‘drop in’ to your pleasant ‘bliss zone’ as soon as you walk in the Transform door.
It’s not just the warm welcome or the kind neighbours on their mats. You may notice that very first, focussed movement you perform in your class makes you instantly feel better, harmoniously integrated, calm and at ease.
Sadly, this continued rewiring of your brain might work the other way too. Each time you feel stressed you are reinforcing the neural networking of that uncomfortable experience. This is where regularity of practice is important.
Written in 1350, this quote from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an early yoga text refers to yoga but applied across the board. “Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.”
Regular classes (of any sort) will help you dampen down whatever you don’t want to reinforce- those squashed, constricted, bound-up tight sensations. Then you will continually amplify the good stuff – those feelings of lightness, joy and expansiveness.
As a bonus, the nervous system also has a neat reward system which yoga, Pilates and aerial practices are perfectly positioned to take full advantage of. Happily, the body releases feel-good chemicals called dopamine and endorphins when you exercise.
While there are lots of other experiences that can make this happen too – like listening to music and communal bonding experiences, there is a kind of sacred biochemistry with focussed movement practices that amplify your experience of wellbeing.
If you like yoga, know that mindfulness, deep breathing, slowing movement plus meditation is the perfect recipe to help you become less reactive, heal old wounds and deal with stress better.
You will become more appreciative for all you are and have.
Consistency is Queen (or King!)
So do take a leaf out of the old yogi texts, know that with repeated and sustained effort, you will feel happier and healthier, you’ll enjoy your body more, you will open more fully to love and be more at peace with the world.