Geniuses of Transformation – Have an AMAZING year in 2020!
A curious introvert, Cristina Smith has learned to be an award-winning extrovert author through years of practice. Her idea of fun is to write best selling books about the puzzle of life and its mystery, magic and science.
Cristina is the creator of the Yoga for the Brain series of books.
What exactly is Yoga for the Brain?
Yoga for the brain helps us get more health and happiness through the power of positive play. We know that when we stretch our bodies in ways we are not used to, as in yoga, they become more flexible. Puzzles do the same thing for our brains. This discovery led me to do research on why and how that happens.
How does Yoga for the Brain work?
Turns out that training and maintaining our brains works best by entertaining them. Brains just want to have fun. They even send out happy shots of biochemical dopamine brain bliss that give us a boost of pleasure when solving a puzzle- whether it be acing a word search, learning a new language or packing a car with more stuff than possible.
When and why did you decide to start writing about Yoga for the Brain? Which was your first book, and why?
A few years ago, I was on an airplane to Colorado to visit my brother, Rick. I was all buckled into my seat at 30,000 feet when I realized the dreaded truth. I was bored. I had read everything on my iPad and the entire in-flight magazine. In desperation, I considered the Sudokus I saw in the magazine. Looking at the squares, I had an almost visceral reaction. “Sudoku- yuck! I don’t do those.”
Then, I remembered something I had recently read. Puzzles, especially Sudoku, help us stay sharp mentally as we age. This fateful flight I decided to get over myself and give it a try. I already knew I was going to be terrible at it. I started with the easiest one.
My suspicion was correct. I was not good at it at all!
My brother Rick is a mathematician, puzzle and game designer and retired technologist. On the drive to his home from the Denver airport I asked him if Sudoku was easy for him. Of course it was.
He printed out some easy puzzles for me to try while I was there. I didn’t do much better on the ground than I did in the air. After a good visit, he dropped me off at the airport to head back home.
While standing in the security line, I made a crucial decision: I was going to see if I could learn to master Sudoku and then find out if it really did help my brain function.
So I wouldn’t chicken out, I went straight to the airport bookstore. I bought a book of 300 easy puzzles as my self-imposed challenge. I wanted to give myself plenty of allowance for the learning curve and flat out failure.
Then, the most amazing thing happened. As I delved into the puzzles, deeply spiritual quotes began to pop into my head. I wrote the sentences down next to the puzzles in the book.
I began to realize that doing Sudoku, like anything in life, could be approached as a path to mindfulness to deepen spirituality and life purpose.
That first book took me three months to finish. I was surprised to discover that this straightforward puzzle had a kind of magic.
My logical abilities became more finely honed the more I played. I realized that doing these puzzles was a kind of yoga for the brain.
I called Rick to share my excitement and discoveries. I really shocked him by asking if he would like to create puzzles for a Sudoku book, He happily said “yes.” The rest is history. We published The Tao of Sudoku: Yoga for the Brain in September 2016. We have gone on to create the Yoga for the Brain series of sudoku and word search puzzle books with secret messages. We have had a lot of fun doing it and it has enhanced our family ties. We have won numerous literary awards, amazing authors are collaborating with us, and socially responsible businesses are requesting programs
Who are the Yoga for the Brain books for? What is your target audience?
Yoga for the Brain books are for several different types of people. Yoga for the Brain is for people who like to do puzzles. It’s great for those who are interested in transformation, metaphysics, spirituality, mindfulness, and meditation and want a fun, powerful and effective way to reduce stress and enhance awareness. It’s for elders who want to stay sharp. It’s for yogis and yoginis who want to expand their practice beyond into additional limbs of yoga.
Additionally, the Yoga for the Brain books are for people who have an important message to share with the world get their message out to our thousands of readers.
What do you want people to get out of the Yoga for the Brain books?
I want people to have fun and enjoy expanding their awareness, consciousness and abilities through positive affirmation, intentionally utilizing our amazing neuroplasticity and reducing stress through mindful relaxation.
Can Yoga for the Brain help prevent, or support people with, debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Yoga for the Brain can help anyone who would like to exercise their brains and keep them active. Puzzles are something to look forward to. When we find the level at which we can mostly succeed yet are challenged by some, we know where to start and how to enjoy them. Some will want more challenge. Other will be perfectly content with these successes. It’s all good.
I certainly am not qualified to make any claims about the medical efficacy of Yoga for the Brain puzzles. What I can say is that people are telling me how much Yoga for the Brain has helped themselves and their loved ones by giving them something meaningful intellectually and spiritually to do, along with mentally challenging and satisfying them with puzzles with which they can succeed. The success releases brain bliss chemicals like dopamine that makes us want to keep on keeping on.
What is/are the key message(s) you are communicating about Yoga for the Brain?
Brains just want to have fun.
Play is a wonderful tool for transformation.
Who is your Number One main role model, and why? Who or what is your main source of inspiration and/or motivation?
Each person I communicate with inspires and motivates me. I believe that because everyone knows more about something than I do, I can learn from everyone I interact with.
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
Curiosity, joy, the beauty of nature, love of community, deep mystical connection, needing to pee.
What are your plans for the future with your writing and your work?
I love working with each of the 60 Contributing Authors to the Yoga for the Brain series. We are publishing two books a year in the series and both readers and authors are getting lots of value from them. There’s nothing better in my world than being able to serve so many people.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
I am grateful every day. This Thanksgiving is the first birthday of my awesome grandson Arthur, so I am thankful to be able to celebrate with him and his family.
For more about Cristina Smith and the Yoga for the Brain books, and to find out how you can be a contributing author, go here to download Treasures of the Geniuses of Transformation.