I practiced yoga in the 1970s with four children, a dance studio, a hippie lifestyle, naturally grown food and a refusal to immunize my kids after what I read about autism and allergies.
My life has brought me years of education, a practice of alternative physical medicine in a medical model, a crazy fun family and lots of grandbabies. My yoga practice has been there all along, like an old lover I just couldn’t forget, one who keeps showing up to remind me of my organic roots connection in the soil of the Absolute.
My daughter Joy Vernon started Manitou Yoga School in April and asked me to teach a course. She wanted her graduates to be trained in anatomy, physiology and neurology. We were both inspired by a CNN interview in February that featured the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease that’s now covered by Medicare.
The Ornish Program includes a daily yoga practice, a plant-based diet and meditation. We were thrilled that Medicare was finally recognizing yoga as a billable modality for specific cardiac and cancer rehabilitation.
I was brought onto the staff of Manitou Yoga School to make sense of the psychology, neurology and physiology of hatha yoga practice. It would give our student teachers the science they needed to be respected team members in the medical model. Once again, my old lover, yoga, showed up.
brainI began my course research focused on the body, mind and spirit connection of the yogic practice. I had studied neurologist Paul MacLean’s theory on the discovery of the Triune Brain. He proposed that our skull holds not one brain, but three, each representing a distinct evolutionary stratum that formed upon the older layer before it. Each of the three brains operates like “three interconnected biological computers, each with its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space and its own memory,” MacLean explained.
The reptilian brain, the oldest and most primitive, regulates hunger, temperature and the fight/flight response (the body). The limbic brain evolved 144-206 million years ago during the Jurassic Period and regulates mood, memory and hormones (the mind). The most recent neo-cortex brain evolved around 24-55 million years ago and regulates the logic and thought required for complex social situations (the spirit).
The chakras, invisible energy centers said to be responsible for balance at all levels of being, inspired hatha yoga poses. The poses were created to open and balance the chakras. Each is associated with a specific major endocrine gland and nerve plexus. The chakras run along the same pathway as the autonomic nervous system, which is in three parts and mirrors the theory of MacLean’s Triune Brain. These parts are: the social nervous system – reflective of the neo-cortex, the sympathetic nervous system – reflective of the mammalian-limbic brain and the parasympathetic nervous system – reflective of the reptilian brain.
The Triune Brain and central nervous system became the focus of the Practice of Yoga Course 101. Graduates are now better prepared to explain the scientific significance of yoga, a valuable tool and lifestyle, for the repair and revitalization of the body, mind and spirit, which are no longer viewed as separate parts, but rather unified and synergistic.
My old lover, yoga, has an impressive new attitude.
Georgi Gochis teaches Neurology of the Brain as it Relates to the Practice of Yoga and Trauma First Aid on the faculty of Manitou Yoga School. She is a Registered Craniosacral Therapist, Somatic Trauma Release Therapist, Biodynamic Manual Lymphatic Therapist and owner of Manitou Wellness Center since 2003. Georgi is pursuing a PhD in Natural Medicine and training to become a nationally certified teacher of the Craniosacral Biodynamic Model and Somatic Trauma Resolution Instructor. Georgi is motivated to bring alternative modalities to the awareness of the medical profession as an additional effective tool to be used with traditional treatment protocols.