Neuroplasticity is defined as the brain’s ability to continually reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Therefore, neuroplasticity essentially means the brain is in a constant state of learning. Yet the brain is neutral to all stimulus so the brain doesn’t know the difference between positive neuroplasticity or negative neuroplasticity. It just follows the pattern. Therefore neuroplasticity can both be positive and negative depending on what the stimulus is because neuroplasticity occurs in many different ways.
Positive: Meditation, Learning, Attention, Body Movement, New Experiences, Positive emotions
Negative: Stress, Trauma, Negative Emotions
At this point you’re probably thinking “ok so where does yoga come into play with this neuroplasticity stuff?”
As my dear student Camila, in the Canela Teacher Training course put in:
“Yoga was designed to be an organic process for health, by reconnecting and remapping the nervous system back to its natural state.
(Yoga works) through recovery and stimulation of the joints to regain the freedom of mobility within each joint, delivering muscular tone, blood circulation all the way to the bone marrow, and reestablishing organic functions.”
Yoga brings together all of the positive sides of neuroplasticity in one daily practice. Through passive attention, movement, spontaneous meditation, and the nervous system interacting with the sensations of the body felt in each position, there is a reconnectivity effect that produces this positive neuroplasticity which makes the brain more resilient and stronger. This enables the brain to recover from genetic predispositions, create new forms of conflict resolution and helps combat the effects of depression, anxiety and ADHD.
Yoga is as ancient as our first models of society. Since its creation, yoga has been an example of positive neuroplasticity and continues to be one of the most intelligent and groundbreaking tools for the modern nervous system.
*Sources: WebMD (2019), AusMed (2017), Gourgouvelis et al. (2017)