Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Focus Recap - Part II - Brain Gym with Mari Miyoshi

Brain Gym

Mari Miyoshi stumbled upon Brain Gym by accident. She had finished school and was working in a  sensory integration clinic. A supervisor taught her a 5 minute warm-up. When she added this to her weekly routine with her students, she noticed a huge improvement. Mari was surprised that 5 minutes a week can have this large an impact. She took a Brain Gym course and was hooked. Less overwhelmed. More able to do the challenging things that made up her life. Mari is not just an instructor of Brain Gym, but also a client. She uses Brain Gym techniques to ease the stresses of day to day life.

Brain Gym is a series of movements performed in an intentional way which optimizes brain function. The movements are very simple. They are part of normal development. Brain Gym is used to fill in gaps that may have occurred during development. We may be very functional, but still have challenges and stresses. The techniques taught in Brain Gym increases integrative learning and can help us feel less stress in our daily lives.

Mari gave us a brief overview and a hands on experience of High Gear & Low Gear.
To experience this from the comfort of your home: Write your name on a piece of paper.
That required minimal effort, right? That’s high gear. When we’re able to do things without applying ourselves. Now switch the pen to your non dominant hand. Write your name. A little more stress right? Low gear is where we require more effort and attention. If we did any challenging task repetitively, it would become much easier. Lots of people are afraid to get into low gear. They’d prefer to stay with the tried and true – even if it takes longer, requires more effort, etc. because they know what to do. The goal here would be to make low gear a safer place to be. Life does require effort, but does not have to be scary.

Water is the first exercise in brain gym:
Water enhances:
Electro-chemical activity in Central Nervous System
Processing speed
Stress release
Increases the level of oxygen in the blood 

Mari did a cool experiment and showed us how water transmits electricity.  She explained that the synapse between neurons have water (and various other minerals) and that messages travel faster when we are adequately hydrated.

Mari had us singing ABC's, playing with dolls, doing figure eights, the cross crawl, tugging at our ears and much more.

Among other great info Mari shared: 
Neurologically, for safety purposes, your body is drawn to changing colors. Watching tv or playing video games sometimes leaves kids (and adults) with a dazed look.  That’s a real physical phenomena. it’s physically challenging to look away. There’s adrenaline running through telling the body not to turn away. Your child is not ignoring you when you tell her to get away from the computer, her body is telling her otherwise.

In a stressful situation, our eyes naturally track the horizon. Sometimes we see a child with a reading difficulty frequently scanning the room, not focusing on the book in his hands. While this is generally assumed to be an attention disorder, it most likely means his body his experiencing stress.

Mari suggested doing brain gym during transitions such as recess, bus rides, etc. Doing these exercises helps us switch gears. She says we should do each exercise for about 30 – 60 seconds. Mari recommends getting comfortable with Brain Gym before teaching it to our families. She thought a week of regular practice should have us fit to share the process with our children.

A select section of Mari’s handout, including exercises can be seen/downloaded here .
Mari can be reached through her website.

To good health and brains that are fit,


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Part I of this series - nutrition with Dr. John Azzarelli

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