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Yoga workshop to explore integration of the "second brain"

With its combination of twist and abdominal action, belly revolving pose helps make the connection between the gut and left and right brains.
Christie Hall

By samyama on the navel, the yogi acquires perfect knowledge of the disposition of the human body. Sutra III.30, translation by BKS Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sutras

Core strength, intestinal fortitude. One superficial, one gut level.

Some spend so much time surviving on intestinal fortitude, it’s almost as if this saps core strength. Those who have endured loss and suffering and stay engaged with life seem convinced that they have no core strength.

There’s a parallel to brain and body, as well. Many who rely more on brain power than brawn lose the mind-body connection.

Yoga bridges that gap. A workshop Saturday, Feb. 16, will seek to bridge the gap between what has been called the “second brain” and core strength.

In “ABC of Abdominal Integration, Alignment and Support”, teacher Lisa Walford will use postures and breathing to “sooth and strengthen the physical core and learn the interplay between the brain, the gut, and the nervous system.” The session will be at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles.

This second brain contains more neurons in its nearly-30 feet of length than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system, according to a Scientific American article.

Like the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system uses neurotransmitters to function. In fact, 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is in the gut. Although commonly associated with regulating mood, serotonin also affects learning and memory.

Only in the past 20 years has modern medicine recognized the gut as a nexus of connections throughout the body and mind.

BKS Iyengar, in his commentary on the Yoga Sutras, notes that through samyama (integration) on the navel, also site of the manipuraka cakra (the foundation of the physiological sheath), the yogi knows the activities of every cell and becomes master of his own body.

Saturday’s workshop will take students through a deeper look at the traditional and modern views of the abdomen.

A minimum of six months' Iyengar yoga experience is recommended.

More information: ABC of Abdominal Integration, Alignment and Support, 1:30-3:30, IYILA, 1835 S. La Cienega Ave. Suite 240, LA; 310-558-8212. Cost: $55.

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