As I mentioned in my other brain health blog, exercise is crucial to brain health because it produces what is called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) which is literally like food for the brain cells! I have been an avid exercise advocate since I was a kid, captain of my ice and field hockey teams and voted most athletic high school senior superlative (yes I went to a small high school.) I have tried most forms of exercise ranging from running, weight lifting, pilates, biking, kung fu and many more. But since I found the LYT yoga method, it has become my number one form of exercise that I stick to daily, and feel inspired to teach and even share with the world. The LYT method specifically creates new neuronal connections in the brain by working your body and muscles in a variety of movement patterns, and planes of motion that are not typically performed in our daily activities. You see 90-95% of the time we are living in our subconscious minds, going through the motions, and using whatever muscles and movement patterns become more readily available to us based on our usual habits and what muscles and neuronal connections are strongest. But for 5-10% of the time, when we really tap into our conscious minds and work to control our minds and our movement patterns, we can create change in both the body, and the BRAIN. How cool is that??!!
Research has shown the only effective way to improve motor function in patients with Parkinson’s Disease (a neurological condition that affects movement, posture and tone) is….exercise! Yes, they have actually seen new neurons develop in the brain triggered through exercise that no prescription medication can mimic. The LYT yoga method targets movements we don’t get in our usual day to day motions, however are so crucial and important to good and optimal movement throughout the body in order to perform normal functional movements. This method incorporates forced use of each the left and right side to correct typical muscle imbalances and stimulate new brain waves. With specific moves and techniques, we tap into our deeper core muscles that control our postural tone, of which is the first to be affected in neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and other more rare conditions (that are now becoming more prevalent) such as Poly SupraNuclear Palsy.
Studies have shown that yes, aerobic exercise is good for overall health and improving mood and energy levels in participants, however greater benefits are achieved when this is coupled with balance and flexibility exercises and targeted task practice or functional movements. In typical forms of exercise such as running or biking, it is repetitive, continued use and over-activation of the same muscle groups which has less of an effect on creating new neural connections. The brain needs challenge through the body in order to stimulate growth. The LYT yoga method incorporates all of these movements in each class, beginning from the ground up just as you do as a child learning to walk. This facilitates the extremely important skill to maintain with aging, the ability to get up and down from the floor! This method keeps you focused on core connection, postural awareness and muscle activation to promote adaptability in the brain and body, the feeling of being able to move and go anywhere from a position. When we spend so much time in the same position (often seated) our minds and bodies lose that feeling. Get on your mat, do a class online, in person with me privately, or in a class setting to regain that mental and physical ability to keep your brain and body moving well and prevent those negative effects of aging!
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Your Physical Therapist,