Your Brain on Yoga: The Elements of Movement
By Gabriel Axel
When we conduct a series of physical movements, we experience them as simple willful intentions that translate into bodily movements. Our conscious awareness registers the aspects of actions that are relevant to our personal goals at that moment and beyond.
Underneath the layer of conscious mental activity lies an astounding array of interconnecting nerve cells, firing electrical signals that regulate movement from its planning to execution and its end. In this way, the mechanics of movement can rely on the memory and wisdom of the body for their lightning-speed execution, while conscious mental awareness can be used for more appropriate purposes such as thinking and planning.
The broad effort of yoga utilizes the freed up real estate of mental awareness to put attention on the components of the unconscious. This allows us to reprogram subconscious mental and physical patterns, habits and tendencies. Tuning into the body can yield many rewards in our yogic journey as we disassemble the automatic parts of our behavior and purify them so that we function like a well-oiled machine that is cooperating with our highest intention.