“Move the Mind-Relax the Body”
We use a brain-based approach to movement at The Lean Berets. Outside of formal “exercise” or working out applications, there are some wonderful movements you can do that are great for brain health, relaxation and stress management, hand-eye coordination, fine motor control of hands and fingers, joint mobility, etc. These are simple start-up tips that don’t require a whole yoga class, expensive equipment, or special clothes. All you need is the desire to learn through movement and at times a simple object.
Here are some good movements you can learn to do that can help your brain and your body. Many of these will involve “cross-body” patterns where you go from right to left or left to right. Crossing the midline of brain is very stimulating from the brain and healthy for the brain too. Try these moves, and if you like them and want more information, we recommend “Educate Your Brain” by Kathy Brown, M.Ed. which is listed below. Kathy’s book is a wonderfully written book full of practical information on “how-to” learn basic movements good for the brain, why they work, along with some powerful personal stories.
“Moving the Mind” Handout (Getting Started Basics)
Brain Health: Here’s a video explaining a few basics on how the brain perceives threat, how we can use this knowledge to decrease threat in ourselves and others, and how certain “cross-body” patterns help the whole brain to integrate so we can make better decisions.
SandBells: We use these light sand-filled discs for many of our brain games. Here are a few moves to explore using two-pound SandBells. *You can also use an old tennis ball if needed. All involve “X-Body” patterns.
- Figure-8 Toss (Single, Double with partner)
- Figure-8 Toss (Single and solo without partner)
- Tea Cup (Basics)
- Tea Cup (Progressions)
Breathing: It does not get any more fundamental than breathing. Here are two quick breathing drills. One is for assessment and the other combines quality breathing with a X-Body pattern.
- Breath Check (Chest VS. Deep Abdominal Breathing)
- Double X-Body Hook Up (Deep Breathing)
Body Weight: Here are some body-weight only moves that are great for relaxation and brain health too. Once again, most involve “X-Body” movements that help the whole brain to integrate while reducing stress and tension.
Sticks: We love using sticks because they are so simple and accessible. A simple single stick can provide all kinds of brain-healthy stimulation when they move in cross-body patterns plus you use hands with fine motor control too. Some of these also use the “X-Body” patterns. Here are some common motions we use in our MOJO MOVES videos which are designed to inspire people to move in healthy, simple, and restorative ways.
- Back Pass
- Front Pass
- Wrist Roll
- Sample Stick Routine
Book Reference: We highly recommend Kathy Brown’s “Educate Your Brain.” How the cross-body or cross-lateral patterns help the brain are wonderfully explained in a practical way along with some nice tutorials on some of these brain-friendly movements, inspiring testimonial stories from students, teachers, parents, athletes, and corporate groups and much more. It’s the best book out there if you want to explore cross-body patterns used for improving brain health and function. Also see her website below for other resources, training workshops, articles, etc.
- “Educate Your Brain” by Kathy Brown, M.Ed.
Research Findings: How “cross-body” patterns stimulate the brain in healthy ways.
- Movement & Cognitive Function Project (TedX on UCLA Program)
Gear: Here’s where you can buy the simple tools we use.
- SandBells (We use 2# “pre-filled”)