Thursday, March 1, 2018

Does Brain Gym “make you tired”? Actually, no!

I received this email from a woman who had just been in one of my Brain Gym® classes. She was a most enthusiastic participant and was truly looking forward to using what she'd learned, to support her students. 
   Hello Kathy,
   I have been trying Brain Gym with a 7th JR. class after their lunch 

   and they have complained it makes them too tired. What can I do?
   Thank you,

First of all, I love it when my students write to me following a workshop or class. Sometimes they share surprising stories of changes they've seen right away with a particular child, or even with their whole class, and that's so delightful! But, honestly, I think my favorite emails are those with questions,
because it means that person truly wants to understand more about this great work and how to put it to use. So I was excited to receive this email.

In this case, though, I thought my reply might be helpful to more than just this one person. I'm sharing it here, with a few additions to complete my thoughts on this important topic.

   Dear Rosemary,

   How great that you’re using Brain Gym with 7th graders! And I understand
   your challenge around this. It’s a question that’s come up before.

   I suggest you begin by changing the descriptor. When kids say they feel
   "tired" after doing Brain Gym movements, invite them to notice whether they
   really feel tired, or could it be that they feel relaxed?

   They may not be used to experiencing what “relaxed” really feels like. Many
   students are constantly forcing themselves to be “on” to get things done,
   push-push-pushing their way through the day, digging deep for the energy
   they need. Yet, the truth is, we work better when our mind-body system is
   not in stress!

Give your students regular opportunities to experience different Brain Gym movements, really taking time to notice what the effects are. And keep in mind that they may notice different things on different days.

My own experience is that after doing Lengthening Activities, like the Owl or Calf Pump, I typically feel more alert and focused. 

After doing Energy Exercises, like the Brain Buttons or Energy Yawn, my thoughts are often clearer, and I feel more “present.” 
After Midline Movements, like the Cross Crawl or the Double Doodle, I feel more ready for tasks such as reading or writing - and I'm better at them. 

And it’s often the Deepening Attitudes activities, Hook-ups and the Positive Points, that result in a greater feeling of calm presence.

Each category of Brain Gym movements helps to release the effects of tension and stress in the mind-body system in its own unique way. And it’s tension and stress that get in the way of being able to efficiently think, learn, and move!

On the other hand, your students may truly be tired. (Changing circadian rhythms during the teenage years are often a culprit here, but that’s a whole different topic.) However — Brain Gym does not make people tired! What Brain Gym may do, is get people in touch with what’s really going on with their mind-body system, under all the “busy-ness” of their thinking and doing and hurrying through the day. Once the mind is more calm, and we’re more “present” in the moment, we can experience our more authentic inner state. Sometimes that means noticing the fatigue that was there all along.

Students are not alone in this
— we all may learn to ignore the fact that we’re tired. It’s often inconvenient, or not socially (or academically, or professionally) acceptable to stop and get the rest we need. Or people may have told us (especially when we were kids), "you don't get to be tired," or "no complaining, just get to work" and  that voice is still in our heads. 

Either way, relaxed or tired, it’s important to know what that feels like. Perhaps that could be part of your discussion: slowing down the "gerbil-wheel" mind, becoming present through these integrating movements, and experiencing the authentic state of your body, whatever it is. [2] 

Understanding oneself is a vitally important part of overall wellness! The more we understand ourselves, the more likely it is that we’ll be open to the cues of our mind-body system and do what’s in our own best good. That also means that we’re less likely to be led astray by the (potentially less healthy) influence of our peers.

One more thought that comes up as I re-read your email: I sometimes feel tired after lunch, too — my body is busy digesting! Perhaps that could be one more aspect of your discussion. As a group, you could explore the movements, and see which ones help to bring a more alert state, even while digesting your lunch. It’s possible to digest, and have a balanced brain at the same time!

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you try this new approach, and how it turns out!

Does this information help you to understand your own experience of using the Brain Gym movements throughout the day? I'd love to hear what you have to share!

With warmest regards,

Kathy Brown, M.Ed.
Educational Kinesiologist
Licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant
Author of Educate Your Brain

[1] You can refer to the book Brain Gym® Teacher's Edition for information on all 26 Brain Gym activities and their many benefits.
[2] In my book Educate Your Brain, pages 173-174 from the chapter titled “Brain Gym in the Classroom” offer some suggestions on how to introduce the concept of “noticing” to students. You can modify my suggested language to suit any age student you’re working with. 

Brain Gym® movement photographs Copyright© Laird Brown Photography. All rights reserved.
©Copyright 2018 Kathy Brown. All rights reserved.
Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation  •  Ventura, CA  •
Please share your comments! 
If you don't see a comment space below, 
please click here to view this article as a separate page,
and scroll down. Thanks!