Yoga as Storytelling

Yoga as Storytelling

by Shaye Molendyke | 9/03/2020


Lt Col Shaye Molendyke. Director YogaFit for Warriors. C-IAYT, ERYT 500, MA Counseling

Good storytelling starts by setting the conditions for a new story to begin to unfold. At its best, yoga primes the brain to be a creative storyteller. However, it is ultimately through the body that a new story begins to unfold. Like unfolding a piece of origami, we start to become aware of and "unfold" our old physical stories, cultivating fertile ground for a new story to emerge from the nutrient-dense material of our past.

Yoga not only invites our bodies to take a new posture, but it also invites our brain to take one as well. Just like our bodies, our brains can take a posture that is more receptive, open, aware, and intuitive. This equates to a healthier brain and one that is inherently creative. We know what a healthy and creative brain state looks like from advanced brain imaging technologies like fMRI's and Spectral scans. Yoga and meditation increase activity in areas of the brain that relate to free will and better executive functioning. It also helps to shift us from a high Beta wave state into the more relaxed Alpha and Theta wave state, which link to creative insights and states of meditation. Additionally, yoga increases activity in the limbic part of the brain, which correlates to the emotional map of who we are. The real testimony to the efficacy of our yoga practice is when it empowers us to navigate to new unchartered territories of thought and calmer, more creative waters of being.          

The brain is a mapmaker and meaning maker and prioritizes sensory input from the standpoint of survival. Therefore, it is essential to become aware of our old default maps and stories of survival so we can create new maps of self. The emotional map in the brain overlaps with the narrative and cognitive maps, which are always running like automatic programs in our daily lives. These three maps represent our default mode network of the brain. Using storytelling in our yoga classes can help shift us from our old default programming into new programming as we rewrite and make new maps in the brain with every story. Ultimately, our personal story continuously transmits into the world, just like an electronic signature. What story are you sending out? Yoga helps us map a new self-story and even a new story for the world. I want to read a new story. How about you?

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