Seattle Yoga Arts, December 2016
Top Down, Bottom Up
N o, those aren't instructions for a yoga pose. "Top-down" and "bottom-up" are phrases used in psychology to describe two ways of understanding our experiences: through sensory stimuli in the environment (bottom up), and through thought (top down). 
Image credit: Paul Bond
New recognitions in neurobiology indicate that yoga may function through both top down and bottom up mechanisms to balance emotions, behaviors, and self-regulation.   

When my students are in a particularly fiery moment in a yoga pose, I often remind them that they are in a mental, emotional and physical training ground for those moments when fiery things occur in their lives off the mat. It appears that yoga and meditation practices build supple nervous systems that respond to the continual surprises and changes of life with more resilience.   The tool kit for developing this resilience consists of yoga asana, breathing awareness, and meditation. 

Regulating oneself from the top down consists of keeping awareness on an object of attention, like the breath, and/or directing awareness toward a particular part of the body (as in following an alignment cue given by a teacher).  It is a process of pulling awareness away from distraction and increasing the capacity to sustain attention on what is meaningful.  

Regulating oneself from the bottom up consists of re-orienting attention to body-first awareness and the recognition that  not only do we live in bodies, we are bodies.   There is wisdom in our little toe, in our inner ear and in our gut.  As our bodies change shape in the yoga asanas, our ways of reacting and responding to the world change shape as well.  

- Denise
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With Gratitude!

The generosity of this community serves as an inspiring reminder that together,  with kindness and generosity of spirit, we really can make a difference in the lives of others.
Your donations to our
Pay Yoga Forward Program supplied 65 classes to those who might not otherwise have had a chance to practice with us.* 

Your contributions to the  Gratitude in Motion Campaign raised $630+ for Yoga Behind Bars.
A special shout out to  Greta and Nicole for donating their classes in support of YBB!

Thank you, all! 
We are deeply moved by your generosity!

* Reminder: PYF class passes can be redeemed through January 30, 2017, so please continue to spread the word! Left over classes will be donated in support of Street Yoga.
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