Category Archives: emotions

Yoga may boost your brain power

Yogis may be enjoying a surprising benefit when they unroll their mats and strike a pose. A new study finds that just 20 minutes of hatha yoga stimulates brain function.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enlisted 30 subjects to take tests of working memory and inhibitory control, two measures of brain function associated with the ability to focus, retain, and use new information, the researchers said.

Subjects who took a single, 20-minute yoga session were significantly faster and more accurate on their tests than subjects who walked or jogged on a treadmill for 20 minutes.
Participants on the treadmill exercised with the goal of maintaining 60 to 70 percent of their maximum heart rate throughout the exercise session. “This range was chosen to replicate previous findings that have shown improved cognitive performance in response to this intensity,” the researchers said.

“Yoga is an ancient Indian science and way of life that includes not only physical movements and postures but also regulated breathing and meditation,” said study lead Neha Gothe. “The practice involves an active attentional or mindfulness component but its potential benefits have not been thoroughly explored.”

Subjects who practiced yoga performed a 20-minute sequence of seated, standing, and supine yoga postures, with the class ending in a meditative posture and deep breathing.

“It appears that following yoga practice, the participants were better able to focus their mental resources, process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout,” Gothe said.

“The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath,” she said. “Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities.”

Findings, announced June 5, appear in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
A separate study published last month finds that twice-weekly yoga sessions can reduce high blood pressure. In the study, researchers led by Dr. Debbie Cohen of the University of Pennsylvania tracked 58 women and men, aged 38 to 62, for 24 weeks.

Another study published earlier this year in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry found that the practice may soothe depression and help sleep problems.

Read more:A 20-minute yoga session may boost your brain power – The Denver Post

The Brain and Emotional Self-Control

Different brain areas are activated when we choose to suppress an emotion, compared to when we are instructed to inhibit an emotion, according a new study from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Ghent University.

In this study, published in Brain Structure and Function, the researchers scanned the brains of healthy participants and found that key brain systems were activated when choosing for oneself to suppress an emotion. They had previously linked this brain area to deciding to inhibit movement.

“This result shows that emotional self-control involves a quite different brain system from simply being told how to respond emotionally,” said lead author Dr Simone Kuhn (Ghent University).

In most previous studies, participants were instructed to feel or inhibit an emotional response. However, in everyday life we are rarely told to suppress our emotions, and usually have to decide ourselves whether to feel or control our emotions.

In this new study the researchers showed fifteen healthy women unpleasant or frightening pictures. The participants were given a choice to feel the emotion elicited by the image, or alternatively to inhibit the emotion, by distancing themselves through an act of self-control.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of the participants. They compared this brain activity to another experiment where the participants were instructed to feel or inhibit their emotions, rather than choose for themselves.

Different parts of the brain were activated in the two situations. When participants decided for themselves to inhibit negative emotions, the scientists found activation in the dorso-medial prefrontal area of the brain. They had previously linked this brain area to deciding to inhibit movement.

In contrast, when participants were instructed by the experimenter to inhibit the emotion, a second, more lateral area was activated.

“We think controlling one’s emotions and controlling one’s behaviour involve overlapping mechanisms,” said Dr Kuhn.

“We should distinguish between voluntary and instructed control of emotions, in the same way as we can distinguish between making up our own mind about what do, versus following instructions.”

Regulating emotions is part of our daily life, and is important for our mental health. For example, many people have to conquer fear of speaking in public, while some professionals such as health-care workers and firemen have to maintain an emotional distance from unpleasant or distressing scenes that occur in their jobs.

Professor Patrick Haggard (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) co-author of the paper said the brain mechanism identified in this study could be a potential target for therapies.

“The ability to manage one’s own emotions is affected in many mental health conditions, so identifying this mechanism opens interesting possibilities for future research.

“Most studies of emotion processing in the brain simply assume that people passively receive emotional stimuli, and automatically feel the corresponding emotion. In contrast, the area we have identified may contribute to some individuals’ ability to rise above particular emotional situations.

“This kind of self-control mechanism may have positive aspects, for example making people less vulnerable to excessive emotion. But altered function of this brain area could also potentially lead to difficulties in responding appropriately to emotional situations.”

Anger Group

Once a week I facilitate a anger management group. I use a variety of handouts and activities to have a process oriented group interaction. One of the hand outs I use is below. I use it in 1 of 2 ways. I have folks fill it out first and then we discuss or we go through it together and discuss. We explore as a group, learning from each other.

ANGER WORDS

anger disgust grumpiness rage  aggravation dislike hate resentment  agitation envy hostility revulsion  annoyance exasperation irritation scorn  bitterness ferocity jealousy spite  contempt frustration loathing torment  cruelty fury mean-spiritedness vengefulness  destructiveness grouchiness outrage wrath

Other:_________________________

Prompting Events for Feeling Anger

Losing power.

Losing status.

Losing respect.

Being insulted.

Not having things turn out the way you expected.

Experiencing physical pain.

Experiencing emotional pain.

Being threatened with physical or emotional pain by someone or something.

Having an important or pleasurable activity interrupted, postponed, or stopped.

Not obtaining something you want (which another person has).

Other:_______________________________

Interpretations That Prompt Feelings of Anger

Expecting pain.

Feeling that you have been treated unfairly.

Believing that things should be different.

Rigidly thinking “I’m right.”

Judging that the situation is illegitimate, wrong, or unfair.

Ruminating about the event that set off the anger in the first place, or in the past.

Other:____________________________

Experiencing the Emotion of Anger

Feeling incoherent.

Feeling out of control.

Feeling extremely emotional.

Feeling tightness or rigidity in your body.

Feeling your face flush or get hot.

Feeling nervous tension, anxiety or discomfort.

Feeling like you are going to explode.

Muscles tightening. .

Teeth clamping together, mouth tightening.

Crying; being unable to stop tears.

Wanting to hit, bang the wall, throw something, blow up.

Other:__________________________

Expressing and Acting on Anger

Frowning or not smiling; mean or unpleasant facial expression.

Gritting or showing your teeth in an unfriendly manner.

Grinning.

A red or flushed face.

Verbally attacking the cause of your anger; criticizing.

Physically attacking the cause of your anger.

Using obscenities or cursing.

U sing a loud voice, yelling, screaming, or shouting.

Complaining or bitching; talking about how lousy things are.

Clenching your hands or fists.

Making aggressive or threatening gestures.

Pounding on something, throwing things, breaking things.

Walking heavily or stomping; slamming doors, walking out.

Brooding or withdrawing from contract with others.

Other:_____________________

Aftereffects of Anger

Narrowing of attention.

Attending only to the situation making you angry.

Ruminating about the situation making you angry and not being able to think of anything else.

Remembering and ruminating about other situations that have made you angry in the past.

Imagining future situations that will make you angry.

Depersonalization, dissociative experience, numbness.

Intense shame, fear, or other negative emotions.

Other:______________________