Have you ever seen someone exercising who doesn’t appear to be particularly focused or tuned into what they’re doing? Obviously this can be dangerous. When you’re not paying attention, bad things happen.
Mind/Body Approach to Fitness
When we do mind/body exercise, we’re increasing our awareness so we can exercise safer and more effectively. In my classes we start in a relaxing position, mostly commonly lying on our backs. We turn our attention to the body by relaxing muscles and breathing deeply and slowly. Doing so gets us focused more on the needs of the body and less on incessant thinking.
But here’s what’s most interesting about all this: Brain activity actually slows down when it goes from the thinking state to the aware state. This is measured by Electroencephalography (EEG) which records electrical activity of the brain.
Brainwaves change according to what we’re doing and feeling. Higher frequencies cause the brain to be on high alert, which makes you ready for whatever information or situation comes at you. Lower frequencies cause us to feel slow and dreamy and helps us relax. There are four categories of brainwave frequencies:
Beta brainwaves (12 to 38 Hertz ) are fast. They dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when you are alert and focused on thinking, doing tasks, and interacting with your environment.
Alpha brainwaves (8 to 12 Hertz ) are dominant when we begin to relax yet we remain alert. When I assist you to relax your mind, either in class or with one of my relaxation audios, your brain is moving toward alpha. Alpha waves aid you in being more alert to what’s happening in the present moment.
Theta brainwaves (3 to 8 Hertz ) occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation. Generally we don’t get into Theta during yoga class, and it’s not necessary anyway. All we need to do is get into Alpha to feel relaxed and aware. If you take the time to do deep relaxation exercises, you will move into Theta where the senses withdraw from the external world and focus on what’s happening within. Theta isn’t some deep meditative state that is hard to achieve.