Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain


by Janna Leyde

Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain - Janna Leyde

During yoga teacher training, one of my teachers gave the class an analogy to help us better understand the differences among the three doshas, or Ayurvedic constitutions. It had to do with airports. At the time, airports didn’t seem very relevant to our yogic learning, but it was fun, so we all sat around and talked about what we would do and if that aligned with the dosha test we’d just taken in our teacher training book.

Here’s the scenario: You’re in an airport, flying somewhere important. Twenty minutes before boarding, your flight is canceled. According to said teacher, how you handle the situation sheds light on how much Pitta, Vata and Kapha you have in you.

You jump on your phone to rant and rave, then head to the bar. Hi there, Pitta.

You wander around to buy a coffee or an ice cream, take a seat, and chill to wait out the chaos. What a Kapha would do.

You frantically run around talking to every person and every agent in an attempt to get on the next plane. True Vata-style.

Who you are—how you are composed—is insight into how you handle change, physically and mentally.

Living with my father’s brain injury has been a constant practice in handling change. Living in New York, this volatile high-pressure metropolis, is also a constant practice. Living as dedicated yogi and a new teacher, where one day on the mat is never like the next, is yet more practice.

Lately, I feel confident in my practice finding the balance that helps me safely navigate changes.

Last Friday, I was prepped and prepared, en route to Louisville from JFK. Skies on both ends were blue, and I was—shockingly—on time. Just as I got to my gate, I looked up at the board: Canceled. As was every other flight in that general direction that I could possibly take.

After all my careful practice in dealing with change, what did I do? I lost my shit. Because as much as I’m a yogi, as much as I’m the strong daughter of the TBI survivor, all I wanted to do that Friday afternoon was get from New York to Kentucky.

And I’m Pitta-Vata(airport or no airport scenario), so I promptly called three people, cursing about the paralyzing situation of having no outbound flight.

Then I contemplated the bar.

Then I took a breath and took into consideration that Delta Flight 6037 was merely an expectation that would be best served by releasing it.

It was just another lesson in realizing that no matter how much we prepare and how much we tell ourselves we’re going in one direction, there is no guarantee that we are. No matter how much we look for the constant in things, the only constant is change. If we remember that, we can roll with it (even if we bitch and moan at first).

I found my solution at the Delta phone bank: A nice woman named April was also trying to get to Louisville. April had an Infiniti. I had gas money.

In many cases—brain injury, yoga injuries, job loss, flight cancelations, you name it—change can be much more stressful than exciting. But it’s how you handle it that shapes your next adventure.

Janna Leyde is a yogi and writer living in Brooklyn. When she’s not on her mat or at the front of the room teaching, she is working on publishing her first novel, He Never Liked Cake, a coming of age memoir that tells the story of growing up with her father’s traumatic brain injury. Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain offers her perspective on the practice through the lens of the complex human brain.


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