Do you feel overwhelmed? Are you having a hard time focusing? Are your thoughts scattered? Is stress paralyzing you? Do you feel that your performance on a day-to-day basis, whether it be at work or in recreational pursuits, can be enhanced? Brain Gym
*, a movement-based learning program developed by Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., educator and co-founder of Brain Gym International with wife Gail E. Dennison, has been touted as a means by which individuals can optimize their functional ability.
The Brain Gym program originated as a set of activities used to help children overcome their learning disabilities and since has expanded into a method by which individuals of all ages and walks-of-life can improve upon a wide variety of abilities such as comprehension, organization, communication, and athletic skills. Brain Gym courses are offered in schools, senior centers, and wellness facilities throughout the United States and world-wide in over 90 countries. This last weekend, I had the opportunity to experience a basic course of Brain Gym at Inspired Wellness in Birmingham, Michigan, as part of their "Staying Connected to Peace and Optimism in Uncertain Times" gift
Kelly Hale MS, OTR, IMTp, founder and director of Inspired Wellness, led the class. Hale states that the premise of the Brain Gym exercises, a set of 26 simple physical activities, is that "movement facilitates learning ...[the program] organizes and integrates the mind and body." This "enhanced learning through movement" has been coined as Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K) by the founders of Brain Gym. They claim that these specific body movements stimulate your brain, optimizing its ability to store and recall information, which in turn enhances your day-to-day performance.
Advocates of the Brain Gym program believe that it helps to provide "balance" within oneself and with the world around you. Hale describes it as "the art and science of noticing. It helps you to feel, connect, integrate, and process emotions." The Edu-K process, led by a trained Brain Gym instructor, requires you to identify a goal - a task that you wish to accomplish or an area in your life that you feel can be improved. The instructor will then devise an individual program utilizing a variety of the 26 exercises to help you develop the mental and physical framework needed to achieve your goal. The exercises are fairly simple to perform and can be easily modified for those individuals with physical limitations. They can be performed in the morning, on your lunch break, at work, or incorporated into the warm-up or cool-down phase of your exercise session.
An example of a Brain Gym exercise is the Cross Crawl in which you are required to alternate bringing your right wrist to your left knee with bringing your left wrist to your right knee. The purpose of this activity is to simultaneously stimulate both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, which is thought to optimize your learning potential. Addendum 11/11/09: The creators of the Brain Gym program believe that by crossing your body's midline during the Cross Crawl exercise, you integrate the right and left hemispheres of your brain. And, that this integration enhances the network of communication and flow of information between the two sides, thus improving your ability to learn.
Another Brain Gym activity is Brain Buttons. This exercise involves placing one hand over your navel while, with your other hand, press your index finger and thumb just below your collar bone on either side of your sternum. The creators of Brain Gym claim that this activity increases the blood flow and oxygen supply to your brain which, in turn, enhances your concentration skills.
If Brain Gym sounds like a program that will work for you, or if you would like more information on the topic, contact Inspired Wellness at (248) 988-8098 or visit them at www.inspiredwell.com
. They will be offering an Integrated Mat
class that will combine Brain Gym with Pilates on Friday, November 27, 2009. Inspired Wellness is located at 1185 South Adams, Birmingham, Michigan, 48009.
Note: Although my one-time personal experience with the Brain Gym program was beneficial and productive, my research of the literature regarding Brain Gym found that more studies investigating the effectiveness of this program need to be conducted, so individual results may vary.
*Brain Gym is a registered trademark of Brain Gym International/Educational Kinesiology Foundation, Ventura, CA.