Yoga's Superpowers: SuperFlex vs. RockBrain

I was taking care of my brother’s girlfriend’s son, and he had this homework assignment that was all about whether you could go with the flow – Superflex – or whether you were stuck in the muck, i.e. Rockbrain. Of course, this was a homework assignment for fourth graders on skill-building, but you get the point. According to Stephanie Madrigal, one of the creators of Superflex and The Unthinkables, “Superflex is a superhero that hangs out in our brain and helps us to think about thinking about others, being flexible, and making good choices.” It has been used to help kids with high-functioning/broad-spectrum autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, or other social learning challenges.

All of this reminded me of brain plasticity, which may be related to being a Superflex. Brain plasticity means your brain has, among other things, the capacity to change overtime. Brain plasticity or neuroplasticity is implicated in perhaps how or why the brain – read nervous system – changes over time due to environmental, behavioral, and/or experiential changes, etc. One of the implications of having a physically “flexible, plastic mind,” is that neurally-mediated conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or fibromyalgia could be positively impacted, diminished, or even fade away altogether over time. 

Likewise, being a Superflex in the way you approach your life – being open to change and going with the flow – serves you much better than being a Rockbrain, stuck in your ways. Silly? Perhaps. But being flexible in how you approach the areas of your life where you feel “stuck” can afford you multiple opportunities to move out of stagnation into greatness. It’s being open to choice and change that matters. Let your spirit and the universe take care of the details. And leave Rockbrain in the backyard where he belongs.

I have what I call managed recovery from what has been labeled CFS. Chronic fatigue syndrome is now better understood as possibly being related, at least in part, to a dysregulation of the hypothalamus, also known as hypocortisolism. For whatever reason, in some people – severe, on-going stress has been implicated – the hypothalamus (part of the nervous system) seems to downregulate, and stay there, causing symptoms such as unrelenting fatigue. I have managed my symptoms, which are either gone, mostly gone, by lifestyle choices such as high-quality nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and consistent sleep habits. My latest way to treat and manage any lingering symptoms? The superpower of yoga.

I used to think people who did yoga were part of some super cool, exclusive club I had never been invited to. But, much like life, yoga isn’t a club. It’s just there, waiting for you, until you can no longer wait for yourself to show up…for yourself and for your life.

I have always been curious about yoga, and have practiced certain stretching techniques for years after my workouts. But it wasn’t until I tried “hot” power vinyasa yoga with Dana Damara of ZenFlowYoga, and author of Oms from the Mat, that my whole world opened up, and my body has began to heal on the deepest level. It really helps my organic, authentic energy levels as well.

Yoga simultaneously cleanses and restores your whole body and being. I always thought I couldn’t do yoga because of neck and knee issues due to sports injuries. But heat makes it possible to move more easily, and to sweat. Sweating out toxins, emotions, and thoughts is such an amazing feeling. You can literally sweat, move, and breathe your way through any situation.

But, also, I have felt yoga starting to heal and change my brain as well as tone, strengthen, and lengthen my body. My brain and nervous system feel more “flexible,” along with my body. Can yoga remodel my brain and heal my nervous system, as well as any lingering symptoms I sometimes still experience? Can I leave rockbrain behind and become a superflex Yogabrain? It is hard to describe what yoga does to your “head” unless you experience it firsthand. I have already experienced a clearer sense of myself and the world at large. Perhaps sustainable symptom-free health is to follow. Time and practice will tell. So far, so good. Stay tuned

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