What is BrainGym®?
BrainGym is a program of 26 easy movements that integrate the brain and the body. It is like a set of tools that can be carried with a person into any situation. It is an anywhere, anytime technique that calms the body’s stress response creating connections between the hemispheres of the brain across the corpus collosum. No equipment and no significant space requirements are necessary.
For the educator, BrainGym is 26 simple movements that use everything from crossing midlines to touching acupressure points and lengthening muscles to integrate the left and right brain hemispheres so a child can access the whole brain for learning. It is also a means of reducing the stress associated with new learning, test taking, or performance of any kind. There is a very nice (and ever-growing) body of research documenting improvements in test scores when BrainGym is used.
Physical movement across the body’s horizontal, vertical, and sagital midlines helps to create and restore neural connections in the brain. It allows a person demonstrate that they “know what they know”. It can make a significant difference in one’s ability to exhibit self control and good decision-making.
Who Figured It Out?
The field of Educational Kinesiology (learning through movement) was initiated by Dr. Paul Dennison. His work with learning disabled children as far back as the early 1970′s led him to seek more effective ways of helping struggling learners to succeed. The program has had many outstanding contributors over the years and has further developed to encompass additional techniques beyond the basic 26 BrainGym movements.
Who Uses This Stuff?
BrainGym is used with high performance olympic athletes, senior citizens desiring improved cognitive skills, recovering stroke patients, sales teams, students from every ability level including gifted and severely/profoundly disabled, as well as anyone seeking to make significant changes in their life.
What Can You Expect?
Significant improvement is often seen in “..concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening, physical coordination, and more.”*
How Can You Experience BrainGym®?
BrainGym may be experienced with a licensed consultant (that’s me!) in private sessions, group workshops, or short presentations. Each experience has its own benefits and limitations. Many workshop participants first experienced BrainGym as a shorter presentation, then wanted more. If group learning environments aren’t your style, or if you have a need for a more discreet, confidential, or personalized experience, private sessions are the way to go. For a list of Brain Gym workshops I offer, click the link.
If you have ever been told you are left brained or right brained, you probably know that you have tendancies toward the characteristics of that hemisphere. I am dominantly left-brained, meaning that under stress my left (logic) brain tends to take over and run the show. I am a list-making, orderly-sequential, logic-seeking, details geek. When I am relaxed, I can tell those characteristics to “chill-out” for a bit and share control of the situation with my right (or gestalt) brain. This let’s me see the big picture, taking in a greater amount of information and leading to better overall decision-making. It also improves my performance on physical tasks such as sports, writing, and drawing. Life is so much better for me when I have the benefit of both halves of my brain working together. We call that “whole-brained” and we often refer to learning in that state as whole-brain learning.
My oldest daughter spends a lot of time hanging out in her right brain. When she experiences a new learning challenge or difficult situation, she misses many details because all she sees is the mountain in front of her. She even shuts off her vision and turns her dominant ear toward the source of information. She limits her sensory input to hearing when she is under stress, thus missing the valuable information that she could be gaining visually. It tends to make learning calculus a bit more of a challenge. She benefits from the reduced stress and heightened sensory input that results from BrainGym integration activities.
My number three daughter has a unique personality. When she stresses, she literally shuts down her entire body. Teachers, parents, caregivers, you have probably seen this child. They may make a bad choice or not know the answer. This results in some sort of embarrassment, or possibly even scolding. During the student-teacher (or parent) discussion, it is evident that the child does not seem to hear, can’t or won’t move their body in any way, and you can forget about them looking at you. They have essentially shut down the system. A directive to apologize for the offending action or produce another answer is met with….nothing. Ongoing use of the BrainGym movements may help prevent the child from reaching this level of stress, and may also help reduce the amount of time spent in “shut-down” mode for most students.
*International BrainGym Foundation, www.braingym.org