Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain


by Janna Leyde

Oscillations - Janna Leyde - November 15

My dad taught me how to use my teeth. I can open things with my teeth, pick things up, separate things, carry things. It annoys my mother, as it should. It’s excessive, seeing as teeth are to be used for masticating and not much else.

I do other things in excess that annoy her. I always carry too much. I will carry things too heavy, too precarious, too big. I will even carry things with my teeth. I’m unnerved if I have to make more than one trip, so I will go to extreme measures to balance, weight, stuff, distribute, and clutch objects and bags. I will take more time maneuvering my cargo than time it would take to make two, maybe three, trips.

“You do know you can make more than one trip,” my mother said watching me as she held two grocery bags and her purse. “Why don’t you just make it easier on yourself? Put something down.”

I shook my head. Fitting it all together is an art. I swung my carryon bag onto my back, looped two plastic bag handles around my right arm, cutting off the circulation at the crook of my elbow, and grabbed my computer with the free hand. Then I pinched a jug of milk under my left arm and took three bags in my left hand. My dad offered to help. I shook my head again, and reached down into the trunk and bit the handle of my purse.

He pulled the purse out of my mouth anyway. I was annoyed. I like doing things on my own, my way. I waddled down the brick sidewalk following my parents to the house.

I looked like an ass.

Lately, I’ve realized something, something that has come from teaching my dad yoga (teaching anyone yoga, really): when you treat other people like you have been treating yourself you are quick to find out how you might want to try things differently.

“I want you to try something,” my ever-so-wise teacher said to me over coffee. “Teach five less asanas in your sequence.”

I mind-panicked. Five? Why five? Everything fits into the allotted chunk of time, so why mess with that? How about four? Three? But I listened to her, reluctantly, and I thinned out my next class.

I was shocked to see the difference. It was as if someone had softened the edges of my class—there was more room for laughter and chit chat during tree pose, more time to explain a mudra, more ease (for me, especially) as we dropped into savasana. I was unquestionably more in touch with both the poses and my students.

And anything that we hadn’t gotten to, I could get to in classes to come.

So this Christmas, I’m going to try like hell to carry only three presents (rather than balance seven plus wheel a suitcase) as I help my parents carry our things from the car to my aunt’s front door.

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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One Response to Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain

  1. David says:

    That’s an interesting practice you have there. Me? Three things, four trips (I’m old and forgetful). Thanks.

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