Any physical challenges similar to those below (rubbing your tummy while patting your head, etc) help wake you up by stimulating both hemispheres of the brain, but certain bilateral exercises, known as Brain Gym, have additional positive effects (by working on the body’s energy system). The ultimate bilateral brain gym exercise is juggling which helps with speed reading.
During breaks, challenge yourself by trying (and perfecting) one or more of the following Brain Gym fun exercises
Breaks are a very important part of speed reading and any learning. They help to relax, refocus and boost dopamine levels which is important for motivation and focus.
Read the alphabet aloud as written on the chart. As you do so, raise your Right hand if the letter below is R, raise your Left hand if the letter below is L, and raise both hands Together if the letter below is T.
It’s harder than it looks, but if you can do it easily, then read the alphabet backwards – or read up and down the columns – or additionally lift your opposite knee (ie R = raise your right hand and left knee, L = raise your left hand and right knee, T = raise both hands and both legs/jump).
Lift your left leg and touch your left knee with your right hand (arm crosses the body). Then lift your right leg and touch your right knee with your left hand. Keep going, touching alternate knees – as slowly as possible. (A more energetic variation is to touch elbows to the opposite knee.)
Cook’s hook ups
Put both hands out in front of you, backs of your hands together, thumbs facing down. Place one hand over the other so palms are facing, then interlace your fingers. Swivel your interlocked hands together towards you, and bring them up under your chin. Cross one leg over the other. Relax shoulders, tummy and face. Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and take several deep breaths. This is a particularly calming and focusing exercise to end with before going back to work.
Stand with your feet pointing inwards (like a letter A) and your hands at your sides, thumbs pointing out. Jump and change over, ie feet pointing out (like a letter V) and thumbs pointing in. Keep jumping and changing over.
Hint The brain doesn’t like opposites. Mentally link your thumbs to your heels – so they both go the same way. Don’t jump initially. Swivel your heels, keeping your weight on your toes.
Ear and nose
Clap your hands on your knees. Bring one hand up to your nose and the other hand up to the opposite ear. Clap hands on knees, then bring the opposite hands to your nose and other ear. Continue.
Hint Forget about the knee clap initially. Place one hand on your nose and the other on the opposite ear. Slowly bring your ear hand to just in front of your nose. Take your nose hand around the other hand to the opposite ear. Repeat this process several times till it feels natural. Then add in the knee clap between each change.
Cross your legs, left over right. Circle your left big toe in a clockwise direction. Keep that going as you draw a figure 6 in the air with your left hand.
Put your right hand straight up in the air, then bring it down to your side. Keep going in a regular one-two rhythm. Stop.
Keep your right hand still. Put your left hand straight up in the air, then straight out to the side horizontally, then down to your side. Keep going in a regular one-two-three rhythm.
Put the two actions together, arms moving at the same time: R/L up, R down – L out, R up – L down, R down – L up, R up – L out, R/L down … and keep going.
Take a deep breath in. Pound the centre of your chest with loose fists as you breathe out making a loud ‘aaaaaaargh’ sound.
Find these acupuncture kidney points on either side of your breastbone just below the ends of your collar bones. They’re easier to find if you hunch your shoulders forwards. Place one hand over your tummy button and the thumb and middle finger of the other hand on your two brain buttons. Sit or stand straight and gently massage your brain buttons for about 30 seconds.
Infinity walk is a therapeutic method for progressively developing coordination and certain areas of cognitive functioning. Teachers and therapists use it to improve some of the essential foundation skills that must be mastered before learning can occur. More info on Infinity Walk