Jog Your Brain

Like the rest of your body, your brain loves a bit of exercise – both the physical AND the mental kind. Celebrate National Brain Awareness Week, March 10 – 16, by flexing your mental muscle. How? By using the Feldenkrais approach to body-mind coordination. Here are 7 mini-moves (one for each day of BAW) to challenge your brain and get those synapses in shape.

Day 1 – Hand Puzzle
Interlace your fingers. Notice which index finger is on top. Now interlace your fingers in the non-habitual way by switching which index finger is on top and adjusting your subsequent fingers. SLOWLY go back and forth between habitual and non-habitual. When it becomes easy, make the movement quicker. Notice what changes in your shoulders, face, arms.

Day 2 – Balance Challenge
Stand on one foot. (If you need assistance, lightly touch a table, wall, etc.) Very, very slowly begin to move your head – left, right, up, down – to look around while maintaining your balance. If you are holding onto something, can you let go for even a moment? Is there a particular direction where your balance is less stable? If so, move your head a little more slowly in that direction noticing how far you go before your balance is disturbed. Return to neutral and repeat several times noticing how much easier the movement and your balance become as you pay attention and stay in a range of ease. After you’ve experimented with this foot, try the other.

Day 3 – Multiple Choice
Dr. Feldenkrais used to say that we don’t really know how to do something until we can do it three different ways. Choose a task – brushing your teeth, opening and closing a door, getting in and out of the car, peeling a banana – and do it three different ways.

Day 4 – Play
Remember when you were a kid? When play was an important part of your life? When even the silliest, simplest little thing could be playful and fun? How often do you let yourself play now that you’re an adult? Remember some little thing you used to do for fun as a kid, something you haven’t done in a very long time, something that didn’t require the assistance of an adult or another person. Let yourself “play.” Better yet, take a routine task like folding laundry, doing the dishes, brushing your teeth and make it playful.

Day 5 – Scramble Your Brain
Tongue twisters are a delightful way to challenge your brain while improving your breathing and enhancing your body-mind connections. Got a favorite tongue twister? Give it a whirl. Begin slowly and distinctly repeating your twister. Gradually increase the speed until you no longer trip over your tongue. Can’t recall a favorite twister? Try this one: “The blue bluebird blinks.”

Day 6 – Stand on Your Head
Now that I have your attention… Did you stop breathing at the mere thought of doing a head-stand? Imagine what the world would look like if you were upside down and everyone and everything else were right-side up. Challenge your brain and your physical coordination by reading and writing upside down. Need a bit of help? Write several letters across the top of a piece of paper. Turn the paper upside down and trace each letter several times. Turn the paper right-side up and write the mirror image of each letter.

Day 7 – Be Creative
Challenge yourself to create your own physical and mental challenges instead of relying on instructions. The sky is the limit. There is no “right” way to do this. Notice what happens when you are faced with infinite possibility.

More Insights and Information
Once your inner brain-trainer is up and revved, check out these sites and articles for more information AND lots of cool ideas for keeping your brain (and body) agile:

http://guides.wsj.com/health/elder-care/how-to-keep-your-brain-fit/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/04/hardest-tongue-twister-study_n_4386585.html
http://thinks.com/words/tonguetwisters.htm
http://www.fitbrains.com/
http://www.lumosity.com/landing_pages/429?gclid=CK-c5Z28iL0CFYZcMgodW2gAoQ
http://www.thirdage.com/brain-fitness

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