My teacher once said ““You all have been selected by the ancients. You do not find yoga. Yoga finds you.”
I earned a BS and MS in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Southern California respectively. I have worked in the aerospace industry since 2002. What does this have to with yoga you may wonder? Well, for the last several years I have been exploring, questioning you may say, the impacts of logical and rational thought on the neuroplasticity of the brain as well as such resulting implications on the mind and body. I was both surprised and excited to find an existing research trail in matters of the mind-body and the impact of our thoughts upon us.
For the majority of my life, so far, I have persistently but perhaps unknowingly used “western science and philosophy” to guide my thinking, way of life, and personal philosophy. What can I say? The western way is all I knew. In spite of living abroad for some years at a time, frequent international travel, and a circle of highly cultured domestic and international friends I had somehow convinced myself that western science and philosophy had all the answers but it was only a matter of time before the rational and logical way of life would leave me questioning my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. This would turn me to look easterly for answers. Integrating East-West philosophy is a subject of much interest to me.
“Modern science” has only recently begun to understand neuroplasticity which are the formations of strong interconnections made between neurons that eventually develop pathways which could represent our habits, skills, and even beliefs. In a way everything we do “trains” these neuropathways to form strong connections. Present research suggests that if we spend too much time “doing one thing” and “not doing another” that these neuropathways become difficult to change over time. Other related research also suggests that in effort to evolve rational and logical thinking the brain must shed emotional and spiritual function. Or vice versa even. In other words the brain develops filters to inputs that do not stimulate the strongly developed neuropathways. Imagine shedding emotional and spiritual function in favor of rational and logical thought? The same research has shown that these filters can be turned off by chemical means and/or meditation. Since I am not a big fan of chemical or synthetic means that is where yoga enters into my life. As it turns out the ancients of the east have had the answers well before modern science thus my yoga journey began!
On this journey of mine I aim to get back to what I somehow unknowingly and unwillingly surrendered or neglected; that is my true and innate spiritual and emotional self. My practice is guided by the spirit of Patañjali’s second yoga sutra that is “Yoga is the restriction of the movement of the mind” in hopes that by striving for such I can return to that vividly emotional, colorful and spiritual space of mind bringing balance to the black and white of rational and logical thought and life. Perhaps with the help of the ancients I will get there again one day.
Wess G is currently not instructing any classes.