I’ve being wanted to write this article for a while and finally now l feel the time is right as the essence really encapsulates represents a new way to think about what REALLY happens to you when you practice yoga and forms the basis for my Evolutionary Flow.
As a yogi l have often wondered about the chain of events that happen in my brain and not just my mind and body when l come into Crow pose (Bakasana). Well it’s a fascinating sequence of commands which l’m about to try to deconstruct from a Neurobiological and Computational Neuroscience perspective. With the use of some amazing images from my wonderful Computational Neuroscience and Neurobiology University studies and along with the Yoga image by International Yoga teacher Leslie Kaminoff. To read the my full article please head over to my website later today to check it out!
So firstly we are going to take a whistle stop tour of the organisation and function of the nervous system. The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) consists of the Somatic and Autonomic and the Central Nervous System (CNS) which consists of the Brain and Spinal Cord.
So using this example then of what happens in my brain when l go to place my hands on the floor getting ready to lift up into Bakasana, lets continue. Well firstly l’m using two components of the Peripheral nervous system. The Somatic consisting of nerves which are bundles of axons, axons being the output cables of neurons, a collection of these axons corresponding to a cell that connects to all of your voluntary muscles and your sensory receptors.
So as l go put my hands on the floor l’m using the Somatic nervous system which send commands from my brain and spinal cord for me to position my arms and hands to move towards and make contact with the floor. Once my hands are on the floor l receive sensory feedback in other words the sensation of pressure and texture that travel through my sensory receptors that are on my skin (something l always go on about in my classes).
So here l am using two different kinds of nerve fibers. The first is called, Afferent Nerve Fibre (incoming) which correspond to all the axons that are carrying sensory information away from the periphery to the CNS. Which in this case is the hand to the central nervous system, which is your brain and your spinal cord the CRS.
To take the final action of lifting my feet off the floor, l’ll be sending some commands from your brain to the muscles in the hand. In doing so, l’ll use what are called Efferent Nerve Fibres (outgoing) which are nerve fibres or axons that are carrying information from the central nervous system, which is the brain and the spinal cord, outward towards the periphery, which in this case are the muscles in your, hand. The second component of the peripheral nervous system is the autonomic nervous system. And the autonomic system consists of nerves that connect to all of your internal organs such as the heart, blood vessels, various smooth muscles and glands.
For example if l feel l am losing my balance and about to fall flat on my nose then that information is conveyed to certain neurons in my spinal cord that in turn triggered spikes that activated the muscles that then put my feet back on the floor. So the Spinal Cord is responsible for
Local feedback loops which control reflexes (reflex arc’s) that is implanted via the spinal cord that will have me put my feet back on the ground before l even have the thought to do so!
The spinal cord also has Information coming in from higher brain centers, so these are motor control signals coming from the brain and these activate spinal motor neurons in specific ways.
Descending motor control signals from the brain activate spinal motor neurons. So for example my brain could tell the spinal neurons to implement the procedure for lifting my feet off the floor. So one could say that l was able to do this successfully in part due to the help of my spinal neurons.
Ascending sensory axons convey sensory information from muscles and skin back to the brain.
So the Spinal Cord not only uses Local feedback loops but also uses information from the brain to regulate behaviours as well as convey information or feedback from the other parts of the body to the brain, so that the brain can take the appropriate actions.
So next time you manage to successfully climb up into Crow give thanks and blessings to your spinal neurons.