Beautiful Side Crow Yoga Poses

How to change your mind – the power of neuroplasticity

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You have the power to change your mind far more than you may realise. The scientific community believed for a long time that our minds were ‘fixed’ and unable to change once we matured into adulthood. However, there’s now evidence to show that you can indeed ‘teach an old dog new tricks’. We can literally change the state of our brains. This ability to alter the structure and function of the brain is known as neuroplasticity –  ‘neuro’ meaning ‘brain’, and ‘plasticity’ referring to the brain’s malleable and changeable plastic-like nature. Neuroplasticity is – much like our brains – a constantly growing and developing area of research, with fascinating insights about the possibility and power of our minds emerging all the time. 

Our changing brains

Neuroplasticity is essentially the idea that the brain changes due to learning and experience. It was first discovered as far back as 1882 by Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso, who was measuring changes in blood flow to the brain in his experiments. 

Several years later however, the dogma changed and scientific literature reverted back to the idea that the brain was ‘hard-wired’ like a machine, capable of many things, but not change or growth.

Today is about arm balances at

Pose Line Up and “Gratitude For…”

1. Grounding – what keeps you true to yourself
2. Fold – what keeps you humble
3. Splits or half splits – what keeps you open-minded and non-judgmental
4. Twist – what sparks creativity
5. Backbend – what keeps your heart and actions filled with generosity
6. Arm balance – what motivates you to have self confidence
7. Inversion – something that changed your perspective
8. Yogis choice – your yoga practice

1. Find a welcoming space, free from distraction

Create a dedicated space to practice in where you feel comfortable and safe. Remove any items or sounds that might distract you. If you need your phone near me, why not try to cover it with a blanket and turn it on silent so you won’t be tempted by it.

2. Tap into how you feel

It’s worth taking some time at the start of your practice to notice how you’re feeling in the present. Maybe you’re noticing any thoughts that arise, feelings or sensations within the body. If you’re experiencing any pain or tightness within the body it is important to be aware of this throughout your practice. 

3. Let go of any expectations

Letting go of any expectations or an agenda for your practice will allow you to truly be present. By doing this, we are able to let our practice unfold how it is meant to. Attaching expectations to your practice can lead to judgement if you aren’t at the place where you expected to be.

4. Focus on your own practice and not others

It can be hard when we’re practising in a class to not focus on other people around you. Especially when those students are advanced in their practice. But this doesn’t diminish your own practice. It’s important to meet yourself where you’re at both physically and mentally right now, regardless of what is going on around you.

5. Be aware of how you’re feeling throughout

Take time during your practice to notice when you’re letting your feelings take over. In the previous example of Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), feelings of anger or frustration can take over because your arms are aching. When you notice these negative feelings tap into your own experience and breath instead.

6. There’s no shame in resting or modifying 

As a teacher, I make it explicitly clear at the start and during each practice for students to rest or modify when needed. Whilst it can be beneficial to push physically and mentally, there might be times where a rest is needed instead. For each individual a rest looks different, from child’s pose, knees to chest or lying down in corpse pose. When you notice that you need a rest, take time to truly understand what type of rest you need right now.

7. Don’t skip relaxation

One of the most important parts of any yoga practice is the time we spend in savasana. There might be times during your practice that you want to skip or that you don’t have time for savasana. However it is important to let the body and mind totally relax. It also allows us to tap into our experience and reap the benefits of our practice, as well as setting the tone for your experience off of the mat.