Why yoga helps?

When the brain and nervous system are well rested, at ease, and in good balance we can take them for granted.  When the brain and nervous system are not working in good balance, nothing works well.

The impact of yoga on the brain and nervous system is quite profound.  There is considerable research on this topic, but there is some immediate evidence in how different a person feels between the start of yoga session and the end of yoga session.

The elements of yoga that have immediate positive benefit to how we feel are:  focused attention, leaving behind thinking, breathing and metabolic change, and attention to motor movements and body sensations.  Here’s how these help:

Focused attention:  When we have attention focused on one thing the brain shifts into a state of awareness, stillness and integration that is different from a more global state of attention where our brain may be drawing us in several different directions.  This one pointed attention is soothing and restorative to the brain.

Letting go of thinking:  In a usual day our brain drags us around most of the time.  We hear a constant inner dialogue:  hurry up you’re going to be late, don’t forget your car keys, wonder how George is doing, is there enough money in the bank?  All of that can happen in a couple minutes!  When the body is moving in yoga postures and our focus is there, thinking can fall away for awhile.  It is a great relief to the brain and nervous system to have that pause, find a still point, experience just Being rather than thinking.

Breathing and metabolic change:  We can lose track of how fast we are going in the busy activity of our days.  In yoga practice the pace of the breath slows as we bring attention to breath.  The deepening and slowing of the breath releases certain biochemistry in the nervous system that is restorative and brings a sense of peace. 

Attention to motor movements and body sensation:  Over 80% of the signals to the brain are signals about body movement.  Think how many neural messages are required to tell the brain to raise your right hand over your head and reach for the ceiling.  This is going on all day.  When our focus is external our attention to the body and it’s sensation falls away. It is actually very soothing and offers a sense of safety when we focus just on movement and sensation.  Think how good it feels to have a big yawn and stretch.   Imagine how great it feels to sense the cool sheets and warmth of the blankets as you snuggle into bed.  Spending an hour or so focused on movement and sensation during yoga practice is a renewal for the brain as it gets to give its full attention to this.

Gayle Bohlman

 

Art Therapy and Creative Healing

11792ff47cdeb59bcf91ea8a0038e987.jpg

There is much more to art therapy than simply “drawing your feelings.” Making art in therapy can be a way to achieve personal insight as well as healing. Art therapists are professionally trained to guide people through the creative process in a therapeutic way. According to the American Art Therapy Association, Art therapists elicit their clients’ inherent capacity for art making to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

You do not need to be trained or experienced in art to participate in art therapy. Art therapists’ have specialized training in assessing which materials to suggest based on the issues you are facing, or any difficulties that may arise in the creative process. Art therapy can include a wide range of art materials and processes such as, painting, drawing, clay-work, collage, mask making, creating a visual journal, just to name a few. Selection of art materials are often first considered based on a number of factors including but not limited to age, development, fine motor skills, and present issues for seeking therapy. Materials can range from easily controlled, such as drawing materials (colored pencils, markers) and collage images, to extremely wet and difficult to control materials such as watercolor paint, chalk pastels, and sometimes clay. The art therapist will use this continuum to tailor the selection of art materials and experientials to meet the needs of each client.

You are the expert on your own artwork and creative process. The art therapist’s role is to facilitate explorations of your work rather than to analyze or interpret it. Using a variety of approaches, the art therapist will focus on your process of creating, sometimes more so than the finished product.

Here are just a few ways you can benefit from art therapy:

            -Finding safety

            -Foster awareness

            -Empower resilience

            -Manage behavior and addictions

            -Reduce anxiety

            -Reconcile emotional conflict