If you regularly practice Yoga, you may be more like great artists such as Picasso and Beethoven than you imagine. The brain waves of creatives and yoga practitioners have been the topic of lots of scientific research in recent years, and it has been discovered that they share something in the same.
Creativity is a beautiful but unreliable aspect of our experience. It disengages us at the time we require it the most. Because of this, creative people are always looking for “the zone,”–the space in their heads where they can come up with the best ideas. Recent research has shown that yoga practices help them tap into the zone.
Yoga for Creativity
The connection between Yoga and increased creativity is evident to many yoga instructors. What is the scientific basis to back it up? What parts of the brain are involved in creative work, and are these the exact brain regions stimulated through meditation and Yoga? The practice of meditation?
In their publication “The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creativity as well as The Brain, John Kounios and Mark Beeman explain what happens when brain-based insights are generated and if we can apply technology to replicate these circumstances. According to their research, three circumstances are associated with “aha” moments, or moments of creativity and clarity:
Relaxed focus, where brain activity slows down from rapid beta waves to less simple waves.
Humor and a happy emotional state
Meta-awareness or awareness of one’s consciousness and thoughts
Kounios and Beeman discovered that when an individual is in a state of relaxation concentration, the Frontal Cortex brainwaves slow to alpha rhythms, resulting in an enhanced ability to solve issues and draw on new knowledge.
Researchers in brain research, Elmer and Alyce Green, pioneers in the biofeedback field, made similar discoveries as they looked into how Yoga affects the brain. The Greens examined the brainwaves of yoga enthusiasts and discovered that the patterns of their brains decreased to alpha rhythms after just a few minutes of starting an exercise. What most surprised them, however, was that the rhythms slowed until they reached theta patterns.
In a different study, which involved looking at images of the brain taken in Yoga Nidra, Dr. Hans Lou and Dr. Troels Kjaer found that deep meditation, like is experienced in Yoga Nidra, also creates theta brain activity. Theta brain waves are linked with deep relaxation and inspiratoinment. Some researchers consider them more efficient in fostering creativity than alpha waves.
Yoga and meditation can reduce brainwave patterns down to delta and theta patterns, which create the brain states associated with insight and creativity. However, how do we leverage this knowledge to boost imagination?
Theta Brain Waves
If you’re trying to get out of your head and get some fresh ideas, try Yoga Nidra. Test. Based on Lou and Kjaer’s research, it can help you reach a euphoric state where you can experience incredible energy and a heightened sense of creativity. Other methods to stimulate theta brain waves include mindfulness and Zazen meditation.
Alpha Brain Waves
To increase the alpha brainwaves–the ones that aid in solving problems and give you “aha” moments–try mantra meditation or take the long savasana as you go through your next yoga class. To determine if these practices increase your creative abilities, start them early in the morning or during breaks from work and see if new concepts are easier to come up with for you.
Do not force yourself to work if your creative frustration hinders your creativity. Instead, consider Yoga for inspiration. Find your path onto your mat, unwind, and let your brain take over the job.