Lots of my students ask for exercises to reset their mind. Here’s a great guided meditation class – try it out!
A busy mind
During a busy day our stress hormones, especially adrenaline and cortisol, increase. Our thoughts are easily distracted. Suddenly you realise that you’ve read a sentence several times or gone to the kitchen and back without the thing you went there for. Tensions in the body build up; your shoulders rise towards your ears and the back is starting to ache.
This is the time to reset. Try the exercise below – I promise it will make you feel more centred.
Yoga Relaxation Bodyscan
The video below is a short and easy meditation exercise called “bodyscan”. Find yourself a quiet space where you can lie down (preferably – but you can do this exercise in a seated position too). It lasts for 14 minutes, so make sure to set the phone on silent.
Ps.To me it feels like 4 minutes – not 14. Good luck!
The past month I’ve learnt about the brain at medical school. There was of course a lot of latin words that needed to be learnt by heart, not to mention the many brains that we had to cut through in order to study the inside areas. But out of the physiology, one theme in special made an impression; sleep. Several of the professors repeatedly mentioned the importance of this relatively foreign life important state of mind. Why?
Systems for memory – keep and toss
Professor Johan Frederik Storm at The Oslo University held a brilliant lecture on memory and learning, emphasizing the importance of sleep for long term memory. For while our body is taking a time out, the connections that are responsible for creating new memory are strengthened. Furthermore, information is put into system whilst we are sleeping. The brain actively differentiates between “noice” and important information. The memorable worth information is strengthened, whilst irrelevant facts are tossed. Hence, we tend to wake up with a stronger feeling of perspective and a better overview than the night before.
Sleep is key in the process of learning.
Sleep initiates cleaning mode
Not only does sleep promote a better memory, recent science has revealed that sleep is essential in the cleaning process of the brain. In our body, the lymphatic system is responsible for cleaning up waste products. Excess water and other cells that have leaked out from our blood vessels are being brought back to the blood system by our lymphatic vessels. From here, the waste is processed out through our kidneys. In the brain, however, we do not have lymphatic vessels. Instead we have a CSF flushing system.
The TED-talk below summarizes the findings of neuroscientist Jeff Illiff. While you sleep, he says, the brain is set into a cleaning mode where cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) flushes through the brain and cleans out waste products that have built up throughout the day. This only happens during sleep, and not when we are awake. Futhermore, it is essential to avoid an accumulation of waste products in our brain.A good nights sleep does really seem to be clearing our minds!
The Yoga Science Study
The first measurements for Yoga Science’s randomized controlled trial is starting on Monday! The next year we are investigating whether yoga promotes well being, sleep and academic results. Some students might find that pranayama (breathing exercises) will benefit their sleep quality, whilst others might prefer meditation. It will also be very interesting to see whether we find a link between sleep and memory among the participants. Stay tuned!