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Twists: Be Flexible for Change

This week’s theme is about flexibility and change. It relates to how our brain is wired.

Dr. Dan Siegal shows how to use your hand as a model of your brain:

Look at your fist, fingers pointing toward you.

  1. The wrist and palm represent your survival brain (including your brain stem and cerebellum).

  2. Enclose your thumb in your fingers. Your thumb represents your feeling brain (including your memory center and amygdala)

  3. The fingers represent your thinking brain (your cerebral cortex). Your middle and ring fingers represent the wisdom brain (the prefrontal cortex) , an aspect of the thinking brain.

In a well-regulated brain, the thinking brain and feeling brains are normally wired for constant communication. When big emotions arise, though, we may flip our lid (raise your fingers to show this). Our thinking brain loses its ability to calm the feeling brain down. We are dysregulated.

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said rightly: “Nothing endures but change.” Even though our thinking brain knows change is a constant, our survival brain and feeling brain may find change a huge threat.

When that happens, our sympathetic nervous system may mobilize and flood us with stress hormones to prepare us to fight, flee, or freeze. We flip our lid, as the hand model shows. The brains disconnect and we are dysregulated. The thinking brain can’t access the feeling brain to calm it down.

Our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being relies on our ability to maintain integration. One way to describe it is that the upstairs brain (thinking brain) needs to be able to hug the downstairs brain (feeling brain) when needed.

Meditation and yoga are two ways to help us stay integrated. Yoga twists are especially effective. As they increase our flexibility, they also help integrate our brain parts. This integration can bring us a greater sense of calm and an openness to the creativity we need to deal with our world’s constant onslaught of change.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Dolly Parton.

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg.

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch.

“The strongest will is the will that knows how to bend.” – Alice Duer Miller

Resolve to be a master of change rather than a victim of change. — Brian Tracy

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." - Alan Watts

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - John F. Kennedy

"Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer

"The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings." - Kakuzo Okakura

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." - Lao Tzu

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." - Norman Vincent Peale

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." - Viktor E. Frankl

Hope you can make it to Willow Street Yoga from 11 am until 12:30 pm on this and every Wednesday. You can sign up in advance at or at the door.



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