Yoga Bites: We regenerate our bodies, why not our minds?

Written by Sarah Hundley December 26, 2011 04:22 pm

Yoga Bites appears every four weeks.

You are younger than you think you are.

People tend to think of their body as a fairly continual structure, however the majority of your body’s tissues are in a state of constant renewal, as old cells are discarded and new cells are generated in their place. Each type of tissue has its own rate of turnover, some regenerating in a few days, some over many years.

On present evidence, the only tissues that last a lifetime seem to be the neurons of the cerebral cortex, the inner lens cells of the eyes, and a woman’s oocytes (eggs). The average age of the cells in an adult body may be as young as seven years. The entire human skeleton rebuilds approximately every 10 years.

Why, then, can we not renew forever? This is attributed to the slowing of cellular turnover and the degradation of DNA as we age.

Honor your body’s need to rest, reset, and renew by enjoying Viparita Karani, Supported Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose. Close the door and tune into music that soothes you. Gather some blankets, towels, a pillow or bolster, and clear a space by a wall. Lay down a blanket or two, fold or roll two blankets together lengthwise, and place parallel to the wall.

If you are stiff, the support should be lower and placed farther from the wall; and if you are flexible, you can use a higher support that is closer to the wall. Also if you are shorter, move closer to the wall, and if you are taller, move farther from the wall. Experiment with what works best for you.

Begin with your support a few inches from the wall. Sit sideways on the end of your support with your side against the wall. Exhale soulfully as you slide your legs up onto the wall using your hands for support. Settle your back, shoulders and head lightly onto the floor. Allow your tail to dip down into the space between your support and the wall. Feel the gentle arch of your torso as you release the base of your skull away from the back of your neck, and soften your throat.

Rather than pushing your chin against your chest, lift your chest toward your chin. Take a rolled towel or shirt under your neck if the cervical spine feels flat. With a broad back and open chest, release your hands out to your sides, palms up in a gesture of receptivity.  Keep your legs gently reaching up as you drop the heads of your thigh bones and your belly down deeply.  Relax your eyes and gaze down into your heart center.

Breathe. Surrender. Soften. Feel the support of the whole Earth beneath you. Stay here five to fifteen minutes, or until the pose has emptied your soul of any tension.

Swim beneath your surface to a sea of tranquility. When your body signals that it’s ready to flow back into action, slowly bend your knees into your chest, and pause before pressing your soles into the wall, sliding onto the floor, and rolling onto your side.  Take your time reacclimatizing to and rejoining the world at large.

Inversions (when the hips are higher than the heart) are often called “fountains of youth” in yoga. Viparita Karani is believed to be good for most everything that ails you. As you enjoy this gentle stretch, take the time to remember that only you are the writer, director and star of the movie of your life. You can create whatever you like. And it is never too late to start a new scene. This is your hero’s journey. Observe the connection between the thoughts you think and the things you feel.

Say “goodbye” to the old and “hello” to the new by creating a new New Year’s ritual. Write down anything you wish to release.  Then make a list of experiences and traits you’d like to cultivate in place of the old ways you’re letting go of.

Burn both lists as the Earth completes another trip around the sun, and allow the smoke to deliver your wishes to the universe.  Happy New Year and Happy New You.

Sarah Hundley, a certified yoga instructor and massage therapist, owns Shambala Studio in Crescent City. Email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it