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The Role of Yoga as a Methodology to Accelerate Brain Develop: My Memoir and Mentorship as a Yoga Therapist Memories of Resiliency As a young

girl, born into a Sicilian immigrant family background, I struggled to engage cognitively in what was being taught to me and fell in between the cracks of the educational system. I was considered an under-represented youth, who was challenged with overcoming cultural and social marginality, which impacted my opportunities to excel to my fullest potential academically during the most impressionable years. The Early-Childhood stages of development were greatly impacted in my classroom experiences. Text books were taken from me because my English language was not articulate enough and I had difficulty reading due to a psychobiological condition, two lazy-eyes, which created a neurological imbalance of brain chemistry. The teachers were led to believe there was no hope for my academic future and therefore there were more deserving assimilated students who would benefit from the classrooms already limited textbooks. The hidden message/injunction was, that girl of ethnicity is not worth being educated. I was verbally and physically abused by nuns and priest teachers throughout those informative years of learning because I had different cultural mannerisms; and to add to my list of challenges I was left handed, my penmanship was impossible (during that generation there were ink wells on the desk and you dipped your inkpen to write), and I dealt with more social ostracizing! Needless to say, failing grades and failing citizenship was a common message I accepted as I grew up struggling with a marginalized sense of my own, god-given gift of intelligence.

In spite of many years dealing with learning and emotional disabilities, there was always a innate hunger to creatively learn and study on my own accord. It was not until 38 years old I managed to finally break free from this false sense of academic inadequacy. I re-enter the world of academia and attended the University of San Diego, graduating from the University with a 3.7 GPA, no longer stigmatized by a haunting past. I was mentored by a USD Ethnic Studies and Cultural Literature Professor, who encouraged and inspired my decision not to give up! I am forever with gratitude for her amazing Spirit! All of these life memories are what has compelled me to undertake the professional roles as an empowering agent and mentor for youths of cultural and social marginality and to encourage them towards academic and psycho-social success in order for them to also fulfill their godly gifts and potentials. Transformational Change I was inspired to write this article due to receiving a recent phone callit was like the Spirit was speaking directly, through the voice of a young 22 year old woman, whom I had mentored as a young teenager when she was assigned to my caseload as a Specialized Unit Probation Officer. She was 15 years old at the time and in a very precarious situation. She was from a Chinese immigrant family, had great challenges overcoming cultural and social marginality, there was great economical hardships, and as a result she became involved in gangs, drugs, dropped out of school and was heading into a destructive lifestyle. When she was assigned to me I informed her I was going to be her worse nightmare because I would not be letting her continue her destructive behaviors! God has always given me the intuition to see the good in all children and adults. I told her I believed she was intelligent and

capable of making positive changes in her life. I placed her in two schools, but she was kicked out as positive changes are hard to adjust to in the beginning. Finally, I contacted an amazing teacher who taught at an alternative court school, her expertise working with marginalized youth was powerful and she was able to engage the young girl through her firm, but kind demeanor and inspirational, motivating curriculum. Please note there is an affirming behavioral pattern within resilient children they innately seek out adults, healthy extended family members, teachers, or those in leadership type positions who can positively influence their lives and create for them an identifying vision of hope for a better future. In the interim of being an empowerment agent and mentor, I was dealing with political injustice within the chain-of-command; as a result I resigned after a 14 years career in the field of law enforcement. Out of the pain of no longer working proactively in the communities, I suffered severe depression and a sense as if my hands had been cut-off. Making a life changing decision to heal and seek health and mental wellness comes with a great financial demise. My whole world came to a crashing halt! Where was God in all of this? The Divine was working indirectly in the heart of the same teacher who had motivated and inspired this young girl. She encouraged me not to lose hope and that the youths needed my positive influencing their lives. The teacher urged me to come back to the culturally marginalized community in a unique and creative way. Her words resonated in my mind and heart! As I was driving one day in Barrio Logan I drove past El Cristo del Rey Iglesias and saw that the statue of Jesus hands hand been cut off. I asked what happened to the sculpture and I was told

by the priest that it had been vandalized, but he was adamant that God was using the incident as a message that the community was to be Jesus Hands! That night on my yoga mat, while lamenting in tears and prayer, the Divines Voice told me to get up and start writing because my hands were growing back for Him!!! Out of the healing birthed my Positive Choices through Yoga/Meditation (PCYM) program for at-risk youth. I was invited to teach the eight week course at the school my mentee was attending. The teacher who edified me later that year awarded Teacher of the Year throughout the United States due to her outstanding and pro-active approach for Excellencies of No-Child-Left-Behind academic policy and curriculum. My young mentee participated in the innovative program and benefited from the PCYM curriculum that was an integration of kinesthetic education, psycho-therapy, art therapy and yoga/meditation. These small steps of faith had big results through my new found Calling! The outcome of reaching out to the marginal youths was going to bring amazing news!!! The amazing news came this week, after six years with no contact with my mentee; she contacted me to inform that she was a studying at Berkley University in Berkley, California She was on a 4.0 GPA academic scholarship, majoring in Medical Anthropology. The Divines timing is always the right timing! My heart leaped with absolute joy that only comes from the Spirit to share her accomplishments. She had courageously broken free from all the barriers that afflict so many youth of color and social boundaries. However, this is the bottom-line facts - breaking free from marginalized social oppressors cannot be done alone by these under-representative youths. It is imperative the marginalized

youths receive help from Empowerment Agents in all professional arenas: Educators involved in academia who are ethnically and culturally sensitive and model messages of hope Non-Profit Community Based Organizations who have financial grants and social services to shore-up their dreams Spiritual Life-Coaches for youths to be inspired and spiritually illuminated Holistic Therapist who use Integrative Yoga-Breath mythologies that increase their mental and psycho-social stamina, physical well-being and spiritual consciousness. Taking a Spiritual Leap of Faith On my yoga mat in prayerful meditations, the question kept presenting itself how could I continue as an empowerment agent in my newly redesigned profession as a Yoga Therapist and continue to inspire youths academic and social success? That is when the Spirit instructed me to start writing againbeing obedient to God sometime requires not using any excuses why you cannot respond to his calling. Two years after leaving my career, money depleted and I became homeless for over three years. In my obedience to write my greatest inspirations took place in coffee shops, libraries and any place that I could plug in my laptop and allow the Spirit to move through me. These were extremely painful and humbling times in my lifefrom riches to rags. Was this how the Divine was calling me into a spiritual leap of faith? I have been faith walking ever since in the merciful hands of Illuminator!

Evidential Findings: Integration of Yoga Therapy for Accelerated Cognition

I did extensive research regarding the brain and its ability to heal and rewire its pathways to have appropriate functional processing. When I was introduced to recent research that was quickly emerging, regarding the results of various forms of yoga taught to students as part of their academic education, the answers began to be clarified how valuable it was to advocate for yoga practice in the classrooms, where children spend the longest hours of their days. Statistics are revealing significant and powerful affects of yoga and breathe work on the students brains, their central nervous system and immune system. There appears a strong correlation of the role of yoga as a methodology to accelerate brain develop, which provides the key to unlock evidence that yoga breath-work increases mental intelligence/cognition. Outcomes of significant GPA increases have propelled youths access to elite Universities. Research has indicated that 30% of marginalized youth have the potential to excel, but need creative and innovative methods for them to excel in the classrooms and meet the goals to enter into elite universitiessuch as Berkley! A solution, that is somewhat simple in nature, is to focus on the physiology of youths brain functioning and provide yoga, breath work and meditation in the classroom. Introducing these techniques as part of their early education curriculum has proven to accelerate brain development. The PCYM program, which I implemented in 2006, was one of the first innovative and create approaches that worked in this paradigm and had amazing therapeutic and academic results!!!

As a means to Accelerate Brain Development the solution is to provide: Yoga Breath work

meditation What are the Experts saying? Yoga breath work has been the focus of research by UCLA doctors, who teach yoga breath to their young patients (and adults) in order to increase their mental stamina and cognition. There continues to be quickly emerging research on how various forms of yoga taught to students are showing significant and powerful effects on students brains, their central nervous system and immune systemonce it is introduced and implemented as part of their academics. Dr. Loren Fishman, New York City physician (who is also a yoga instructor) indicated: Yoga practice thickens the layers of the cerebral cortex, that part of the brain associated with higher education Increases neuro-plasticity, which helps students to learn new concepts and change the way they do things. What we are witnessing in the classrooms is the forms of yoga and yogic breathing are expressing extremely powerful effects on students learning: Concentration Memory retention Motivational responses Reduced stress level More affective test taking Higher levels of physical and mental energy Positive choices and decision making Cognitive Attending and Function Procession Over all sense of wholeness and wellness Positive Attitudes More Specific development: Findings correlating yoga practice to brain

Parieto-frontal integration theory states that general intelligence depends on the brains ability to integrate pull together several different kinds of processing, such as working memory Outcome of yoga practice has provided researchers with information indicating that, rather than residing in a single structure, general intelligence is determined by a network of regions across both sides of the brain hemispheres (yoga breathing, poses and meditation shifts the brain into Alpha Brain waves, lifting the bridge between the two hemispheres to create brain wave balancewhich is the most create, positive and focused state of mind) Recent neuroscience studies suggest that intelligence is related to how well information travel to the brain (Haier, Professor of Psychology in the School of Medicine/Human Intelligence researcher indicated, Our view of imaging studies identifies the stations along the routes where intelligent information processing takes place. Once we know where the stations are, we can study how they relate to intelligence The data suggest that some of the brain areas related to intelligence are the same areas located to attention and memory and to more complex like language. Haier and Jung state that this possible integration of cognitive functions suggest that intelligence levels might be based on how efficient the frontal-parietal networks process information.

Yoga therapist assists in the effort of brain development and health by accelerating cognitive benefits: Improved concentration Sharper focus Increased mental clarity Improved reaction time Improved processing speed

Attention Memory Executive functioning Stress reduction and lower cortisol levels

The combination of Neuroscience, Yoga and Creativity is a new paradigm for teaching. Utilization of sustained mind/body yoga asana, mindfulness during practice, and contemplative meditation/prayer focus can entrains the mind in ways that are helpful in cultivating this natural plasticity in the brain. With this evidential findings brought forth, it is the intent of this writer to bring an awareness to professionals to rise up as empowerment agents for culturally marginalized youths, so they will have the opportunity to holistically succeed in their developmental domains; physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual, in order to attend elite universities and fulfill their godgiven gifts and potentialsYou cant never always sometimes tell, quote from Mark Batterson, Author of The Circle Maker! It is with gratitude and honor that I am blessed to glean from the past, utilize my gift as a Holy Yoga Master Instructor and Spiritual Life Coach, to reach back and grasp the hands of our future youths, of all cultures and ethnicities, and assist in guiding them forward to be the Hands of the Divine! My personal philosophy engraved in my heart is that every aspect of growth comes from the recognition that God is building my character from every situation, dilemma and encounter set before me and with this knowledge I am to press forward in faith! Commit your work to the Divine, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3 Breath by breath be blessed, Gina Tricamo, R-MHYI

Brief Bio: Gina Tricamo holds a Degree from the University of San Diego in Psychology and Cultural Counseling, the Author of Positive Choices through Yoga/Meditation (PCYM) Program, former Deputy Probation (Specialty Units) Officer

with over 300 hours in Psycho-Therapy, Criminology and Substance Abuse Education, and holds a Masters in Holy Yoga Therapy. She currently teaches Holy Yoga Therapy at the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ., write and teaches for the Holy Yoga Masters Program, facilitate s Holy Yoga Retreats and has a private practice as a Spiritual Life Coach and Yoga Therapist. She can be contacted at gmtricamo@gmail.com.