Learning is a magical thing that takes place in a split of a second and changes us forever

These words by famous educationist Paul Dennison has a lot of truth in it. He introduced Brain gym or Education Kinesiology, a programme of a series of simple body movements, which help to enhance and integrate the entire brain, senses and body. He states that mind and body through certain exercises prepares a person with the physical skills needed to learn effectively. Stress clogs up the brain and movement becomes restricted. Brain gym exercises help to improve sensory integration and allow unhindered information processing. Brain gym exercises are developed out of research based on yoga, acupuncture, brain research, optometry and psychology.

In the 21st century, there is no man or child who does not undergo stress that reduces their ability to function efficiently. Although less people today die of diseases like malaria and typhoid, more people, however, die of stress related problems.

Brain gym calls being under stress the ‘switched off’ state. When a person is under stress, the brain reacts by blocking the simultaneous transmission of information to both hemispheres of the brain — one of the hemispheres switches off while the other becomes overloaded. When our brain gets overloaded we turn to the primitive reflex stage of fight, flight, and flock or flee. Brain gym exercises facilitate access to both hemispheres in order to de-stress mind and body and enter into a state of being ‘switched on’. This state teaches the brain to activate all its functions more fully.

Educational Kinesiology believes that no matter how many times ‘a learned task’ is repeated, learning will not take place until both the brain and body system experiences the ease and joy of learning a new task. Brain gym research has effectively shown that movement is an integral part of human development and if majority of the brain cells can be activated through movement, then one can be fit and sharp to a ripe old age of 90.

Brain gym was originally created to help children and adults with learning difficulties like dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. It is now used by people from all walks of life — education, arts, and businesses, health care and sports — to improve brain functioning, behaviour, attention, memory and personal development.

In UK, US and Canada, Brain gym has become a part of classroom teaching in many schools. Teachers and parents use Brain gym as a part of their daily routine.

After having introduced Brain gym in Mukul Kindergarten School, Kathmandu, a few years ago, the successful outcome led the school share this new and innovative teaching technique that enhances learning. A half-day workshop was organised, which was attended by teachers and parents of various schools and people from other professions.

They were introduced to simple exercises, which help in reading, spelling, mathematics, comprehension, listening, behaviour memory and organisational skills. They were also given a brief talk on nutrition, which focused on foods that enhances brain function. Although, Educational Kinesiology or Brain gym requires specialist knowledge and training to implement its full programme, teachers and parents can use some of the simple exercises to release stress and unblock the learning blocks. The message from the workshop was ‘Learn to Move and Move to Learn’.

(The brain gym workshop was conducted by Sen, who is a dyslexia specialist, curriculum planner from the UK, and educational consultant to various schools in UK, India and Nepal)