Combat Mental Decline with Bodhisattva Yoga

Studies are demonstrating that as we age, our brain function diminishes. With every passing decade, our brain’s executive functions, for example, strategic attention, innovation and integrative reasoning deteriorate. Compounding this, our memory functions decline too as we age. These same study findings confirm that we need different forms of training to counter these forms of cognitive degeneration that relate to aging. Generally speaking, we need consistent aerobic exercises to aid the regions of the brain related to memory. As for the regions of the brain related to executive functions, varying forms of mental exercises prove helpful.

Unless one has a lifestyle with a sufficient amount of leisure - coupled with a personality that is motivated and not slothful - it is difficult to address these two forms of age-related mental degeneration, with consistency over the decades. Yet, this is necessary and precisely what we must do if we are to optimize our mental functions, let alone enjoy our Golden Years with a sharp mind. Can we effectively meet these forms of mental strengthening in one discipline of training simultaneously? With my system of instruction, Bodhisattva Yoga, we can.

Many forms of yoga today focus on just moving the body for sweating and sheer exercise, and as a form of escape from existential misery. Although that’s not my style, preference or what I believe Yoga is (it does aid Americans in combating obesity, and that’s valuable!), this form of practice, 3 or more times a week, for over twelve weeks, will aid in memory. As a matter of fact, one will likely score better on a memory test even after one session. How much more so, with consistency, over time!

credit: iStock

credit: iStock

Other forms of yoga, like Buddhist trainings in mindfulness, analytical reasoning and compassion development, offer tremendous benefits and value in developing and improving the brain’s executive functions. It’s not easy to find a scholar monk - who continuously studies, memorizes and analyzes - experiencing cognitive decline in their executive functions. Look at H.H., the Dalai Lama… Although now in his 80’s, his mental prowess is awe-inspiring! Yet, this training does not address the need to elevate the heart rate in order to prevent &/or minimize both physical degeneration and recollection decline.

This is where Bodhisattva Yoga comes in. My system of instruction combines the salient elements of both of the above forms of training needed to mitigate &/or stall memory and executive function deterioration. Although I disagree with mindless, callisthenic-like exertions labeled as yoga, my system is physically challenging. My sequencing of poses builds in intensity during the course of a practice session, at once developing strength and elevating the heart rate considerably. This is excellent for aiding memory. Additionally, each practice period invites the practitioner to move and engage the body mindfully, while establishing a motivation that requires some level of reasoning and analysis. Mindfulness and analytical reasoning are fantastic for aiding the brain’s executive function. 

Join me in combating mental decline by practicing Bodhisattva Yoga with me! In the comments below, tell us where it is you would like to work with me and receive Bodhisattva Yoga instruction. 

In mental and physical wellbeing,

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This is a regular posting of reflections from Bodhisattva Yoga founder Vivekan on all manner of topics related to the broad path of Yoga.

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