Three reasons why teaching movement to your brain is invaluable for Yoga and Pilates instructors and students.
The brain is the gateway to conscious body movement. The brain is used before, during, and after Yoga and Pilates instruction. As the control center, the brain makes a conscious choice to attend class. During class the brain directs the motor skills required to bend your leg behind your head. The brain is also actively involved in interpreting the Yoga or Pilates instructors’ cues such as: lower your shoulders, open your heart, or extend your spine, and transmitting these cues to the body. At the end of class the relaxation portion trains the brain to meditate: to slow down, focus on your breath, and passively return to the breath when the mind wanders. It makes practical sense to understand the body brain connection when teaching Yoga or Pilates.
Aligning teaching as a Yoga or Pilates instructor with how the brain learns and creates movement will enhance student outcomes. When you limit your Pilates and Yoga instruction strictly to the body it is like trying to teach a marionette to move from the doll itself rather than training the hand that controls the doll to move. The brain is like the puppeteer’s hand, the marionette strings are like the nervous system and the doll represents the body. Therefore without aligning Yoga or Pilates teaching to the brain you are bypassing the control center and the ability to teach to the brain, which makes decisions about fine motor control.
Along with knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics it is essential to understand the function of the brain in relation to movement. This allows the Yoga or Pilates instructor to align his or her teaching to spark the neural pathways associated with learning movement. To help learn more about how the brain influences movement I suggest getting involved in yoga research.
Students and clients want physical and brain fitness. Although the decade of the brain was from 1990-2000 it seems that the decade of the brain making an impact on our lives and entering popular discourse will be from 2010-2020. As baby boomers age this large population, many of who attend Yoga and Pilates, are not only interested in physical fitness but brain fitness too.
So to recap some of the major reasons why teaching movement to your brain is so valuable to Yoga and Pilates instructors are:
1) the brain serves as the gateway to conscious movement decisions
2) knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics and brain function will augment any Yoga or Pilates training and help create master Yoga and Pilates practitioners
3) students and clients want physical and brain fitness
I suggest since we are part of the mind body industry we begin to align our teaching to include how the brain learns and creates movement. Yoga, Pilates instructors, and our students can all stand to benefit from brain based teaching practices.