21 February 2009

Movement strengthens the brain

Professional development days let teachers keep learning, from educators and the community. Later this month, they’ll have an opportunity to take a workshop with yoga instructor Melissa Verton Rinvold of Blue Eagle Yoga in Vernon.

Verton Rinvold will demonstrate movement techniques, not yoga, that are designed to make the brain stronger, smarter and more balanced, which makes the body healthier and more functional. The movement can be done in the classroom without any special equipment and some teachers are already using it as part of the 30 minutes per day of physical activity now required for all students.

“Athletes have long known about the benefits of yoga for recovering from injury and building strength and endurance. I have adapted the principals and written an illustrated manual that is so clear that the exercises could be used in groups, as part of individual station training or as preparation for taking part in sports,” said Verton Rinvold, who calls the program Smart Movement.

“There are also benefits to the brain. The movements connect with breathing and the cross co-ordination circuits the brain to work harder and become more creative. This is much more than exercise, it is training the brain. When I have done presentations to children and young people, I have found that they are interested in learning how their bodies work and what they can do.”

Verton Rinvold, originally from Chicago, began practising yoga when she was 17 to recover from a car accident and found that it also improved her concentration in her pre-med studies at university. She decided instead to pursue her interest in dance and art and studied yoga when she moved to San Francisco. While she studied many forms of yoga, she specialized in Raja yoga, the oldest form, which concentrates on the importance of breathing leading to flexibility and endurance. She also studied kinesiology, anatomy and homeopathy at university levels.

She has also worked with children with asthma, autism, cerebral palsy and brain damage.

She has worked with adults with a variety of needs, including physical and mental challenges, psychological issues, recovering from illness or injury and conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“I am so passionate about my work because it works. With the proper training, the body can support what is decided in the mind. I impart these powerful principles, tools and techniques that have for thousands of years claimed specific cures and approaches for health and well being,” said Verton Rinvold, who moved to Vernon 10 years ago, where she teaches groups and individuals as well as leading workshops and co-ordinating yoga/dance projects for community organizations. She also designs programs for sports teams and is working on a series of manuals with yoga for specific conditions.

“Breathing is the essence of life that enhances all aspects of life. It’s empowering. It’s something I do regularly to make me happier and healthier. When people take these tools and use them, they really work but they have to do the work and apply the principles. I’ve never not seen it work.”

For more information call 250-503-0255 or e-mail blueeagleyoga@yahoo.ca.

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