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Wide Brain and Poodles, by Theresa Elliott

Post #3 in The Elliott Lexicon of Satisfactory Yoga Terminology

A few years back, while teaching my ongoing master class at the Taj, I was talking about Wide Brain, a reference to a state of mind. I mentioned it’s fairly easy to tell if someone is in Wide Brain as they look like they just smoked a doobie. The weight of the eyes are heavy and the demeanor suggests someone who is laid back. In that moment, at age 50, I realized the rock band, The Doobie Brothers, was named after smoking pot. I first heard their music when I was 12 and having no experience with pot yet, never put it together. Funny the things you realize while teaching yoga.

I began using the term Wide Brain in the early 90’s. I have been asked if I coined the term, and I don’t recall ever hearing anyone use it. However, if an idea is good it’s bound to turn up in more than one mind.

There are two nervous systems in the body, the sympathetic and parasympathetic, and how one practices postures has a huge effect on which one dominates. The sympathetic nervous system is nicknamed “fight-or-flight” in most circles, and has an intimate relationship with what I call Poodle Brain, which is the mind gone to the dark side via overstimulation. In this scenario, the frontal mind, the “hunter gatherer” — that is continually sorting and examining information and is rarely satisfied and usually looking for more — has become agitated and turns into a small, yapping poodle.

The parasympathetic nervous system is affectionately referred to as “feed-and-breed.” Besides the obvious benefits of feeding and breeding, one of the great beauties of parasympathetic dominance, or Wide Brain, is you become more sensate and thinking is less noticeable. You do not stop thinking, but with this nervous system in play, your attention is drawn inward to sensation, and many people get relief from Poodle Brain. It is as if the mind has become moreĀ  spacious, freed from agitated Poodles. Wide brain is a way to take a vacation from yourself, a healthy distraction, if you will, and an invaluable assist to yoga and meditation.

All this begs the question, how do you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system while practicing yoga? Stay tuned for “Death By Yoga Not Okay and The Sensation Continuum”, coming soon.

T

 

Other entries in The Elliott Lexicon of Satisfactory Yoga Terminology:

The Unicorn

The Elephant Graveyard

 

Copyright Theresa Elliott, 2014. All rights reserved.

 

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