“A Symphony in the Brain” by Jim Robbins provides a history and background of Neurofeedback training. He begins with more primitive research and experiments on the brain, to the first training sessions with cats and seizures, to how it looks today. Robbins explains what Neurofeedback(sometimes referred to as Biofeedback) addresses in our brains, conditions it can help with, and what it actually does to train our brain. He explores the evolution of the technology as well as the big players in the field. He explores possible reasons it has not become as mainstream as other medical and mental health interventions and why it has not been adopted by the medical field.
Neurofeedback for those who have not experienced it, can seem “too good to be true” or more Science Fiction related. Basically, Neurofeedback uses sensors placed on specific locations on the head, to read the electricity in the brain, provide “feedback” to the brain on this activity in the form of a game or movie screen, and then allows the brain to do with it what it wants to. The brain responds by training itself to return to homeostasis and function the way it was meant to be before biology and life experiences interfered. Neurofeedback has the ability to address many areas but the major ones are improved sleep, moods, attention, and pain management. This technology has been featured in Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score.”
I was required to read this book before I attended training at the Othmer Clinic(EEG Info). Since I was interested in learning how to provide the service myself as well as had trained my brain, I found this book to be interesting and helpful in understanding the evolution of the technology. It could be quite dry and boring for those who are not providing Neurofeedback training.
Read this book if:
- You are a Neurofeedback practioner
- Interested in the history of Neurofeedback
Robbins, J., & Recorded Books, Inc. (2014). A Symphony In The Brain: The Evolution Of The New Brain Wave Biofeedback. New York, NY: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Savasana, the ending resting pose in most yoga classes, can conjure up all sorts of feelings. I would go as far to say that you either love it or hate it. How can one pose create such an emotional reaction? I would guess that those who hate it are challenged by the stillness and struggle with not “doing.” Maybe it’s just really hard to get comfortable on the floor, on your back. Perhaps the silence brings an awareness to your racing mind, and that is uncomfortable. I can also safely assume that those who love it, have developed that relationship over time. Those people understand that becoming aware of your racing mind, sensations in the body, and feelings that arise are just part of the package. It comes with the territory and it’s how we choose to meet all that arises is the difference.
Savasana is the most simple pose in any yoga practice but also the most complicated. All you are asked to do is lie on the floor and “be.” Be with your thoughts non-judgementally; be with sensations in the body without creating a story around them; be with any and all feelings that you notice; just be. You have no demands on you during this time. No errands to run, nobody asking you for anything, and no tasks.
If you embrace Savasana as a gift of the practice, I challenge you to stay longer, add more props for comfort and ease, and rest in it more frequently. Extend your time by just a few minutes each time you set yourself up; the longer the better. Commit to a regular practice of Savasana by keeping your props accessible, dedicating time in your daily schedule, and set a timer so that you have the boundary to go deeper.
If you are interested in a better relationship with Savasana, I challenge you to first, get really comfortable in your set up in the most quiet, peaceful place you can find. Set a timer for 5 minutes in the beginning and extend by a minute each time you commit to the practice. Cover yourself with a blanket and cover your eyes with an eye pillow or wash cloth if you are comfortable doing so. Meet all that you notice with compassion. You can choose to spend more time with it or you can choose to focus on the present which may include becoming aware of your breath. Consider it a refuge from life, a place to hit the “pause button.” Dedicate to a regular practice to gain the benefits of stillness and deep rest. I guarantee it will work wonders if you let it!
The fancy and beautiful poses are great. They make us feel powerful, balanced, and strong. Don’t get rid of your movement practice, it’s important too. I just ask you to simplify your practice, commit to doing less, and just be.
Join me Sunday, January 21, 2018 for a 2-hour workshop, “Advanced Savasana,” where we will explore 3 comfortable shapes as well as setting up a home practice, and enjoy a generous Savasana.
Katie Rodgers is a 200-hour registered Yoga Instructor who has trained extensively with Restorative Queen, Judith Hanson Lasater and combines Restorative Yoga with mental health talk therapy for overall mind-body well-being. Register at Noda Yoga.
Register here. Space is limited to 12 participants.
Yoga for Emotional Balance by Bo Forbes is such an incredible book! This is one of the first books I ever read about the intersection of yoga and mental health and informs so much of what I do as a teacher in the studio and when working with private clients. Bo Forbes is PsyD as well as a yoga instructor who has an incredible depth of knowledge on the two subject matters. Even if you don’t have depression or anxiety, this book can be helpful in that she classifies it as either on the one end of “lethargy” and the other end as “energetic.”
“Restorative Yoga helps you develop many of the characteristics of emotional balance, such as the ability to experience emotions without overreacting to them, and the capacity to recover from strong emotions when they occur. It supports the qualities that psychotherapy seeks to instill: greater resourcefulness, enhanced problem-solving skills, and a deeper connection with your innate wisdom. It helps you develop the mindfulness, discernment, and reflection that lead to healthier relationships.”
The book starts off by describing anxiety and depression and what gets in the way of healing, how the healing happens as well as finding meaning, and ends with very specific sequences for depression, anxiety, and balancing. She includes breathwork to use for different purposes as well as very detailed descriptions of the poses and pictures. I like the connection between poses to increase, decrease, or neutralize the energy in the body. This book is very accessible for anyone especially someone new to yoga. Her work is centered around Restorative Yoga which I have found too is the best complement to mental health work.
Read this book if:
- You are interested in using yoga to help manage your emotions and the energy in the body
- You are a yoga instructor interested in how yoga can be used for emotional balance