Brain Gym Part 6: Lengthening Exercises
This is the sixth part of the Brain Gym explanation. This is a continuation of the Lengthening Activities. These activities help children “develop and reinforce those neural pathways that enable them to make connections between what they already know in the back of the brain and the ability to express and process that information in the front of the brain”. This actually allows for the movement from the brain stem, which is where the survival mechanism is housed and which was probably overly developed in the first few months of life, especially in abusive, neglectful, or traumatic households. The last article discussed the Owl, the Arm Activation, and the Foot flex. This article will conclude the lengthening exercises and discuss the Calf Pump, the Gravity Glider, and the Grounder.
The Calf Pump helps to “restore the natural length of the tendons in the feet and lower legs”, which can shorten in times of fear. The child should stand and support himself on a wall or hold onto the back of a chair, placing one leg behind him and leaning forward. The knee of the forward leg should be bent. The heel at the back should begin off the floor while weight is on the forward leg. As the weight is shifted to the back leg, the heel should be pressed to the floor, and the child should exhale breath while pressing the heel down. The exercise should be repeated three times. This exercise will activate the brain for back-front brain integration and should aid in expressive speech and language.
Academically it should help with listening and reading comprehension, creative writing abilities, and the ability to bring processes to closure. Behaviorally there should be improved social behavior, longer attention span, and a more enhanced ability to communicate.
The Gravity Glider aids in movement of hamstrings, hips, and pelvic area by releasing tension and allowing more comfortable positions. The movement begins with the child sitting, crossing one foot over the other at the ankles, and then he reaches forward from the rib cage, allowing the leg and back muscles to lengthen and relax. By reaching out in front, head down, the child should extend as far as he can reach, exhaling while reaching. The exercise should be repeated three times, and then the child should cross the legs in the opposite way. This exercise activates the brain for balance and coordination, grounding and centering, improves visual attention, and increases energy by allowing a deeper respiration. The exercise should aid in academic skills of reading comprehension, mental arithmetic, and abstract thinking. Self-assuredness, confidence, stability, self-expression, and relaxed posture should all be improved.
The Grounder helps to relax those muscles, which tighten when one sits for a long time, locking the sacrum, shortening breath, and impeding focus. The child should position feet one leg length apart at right angles to each other. The child then bends the leg at the knee out over the foot, no farther than the arch, allowing lengthening of the muscles in the inner hip and the thigh of the straight leg. This is another exercise with helps in the crossing of the participation midline, centering and grounding, organization, increased respiration, spatial awareness, whole body relaxation, and relaxed vision. Academically it should aid in comprehension, long-term recall, short-term memory, organization, and self-concept and self-expression, as well as keyboard work. Behaviorally the exercise should help in greater stability and balance, improved concentration, and a more grounded and relaxed attitude.
Both the Brain Gym book and the Teacher’s Edition are available for purchase at the Life’s Garden stores in both office locations. The books have easy to follow illustrations and directions for getting your child started. I will discuss some of the other exercises in following newsletters, continuing next time with the Energy Exercises and Deepening Attitudes segment. □Tags: activate the brain, brain gym
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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