Belly Breathing

Everyone can benefit from the relaxation possible with a few minutes of Belly Breathing.

Our breathing provides a continuous rhythmic exchange between our lungs and the ocean of air that surrounds us. It is said that humans can live for 40 or more days without food and perhaps as many as 4 without water. However, without oxygen to the brain, we cannot survive more than about 4 minutes.

Given that, it’s the quality of these respiratory movements that determines how pleasurable and beneficial breathing is to our wellbeing. Our rate of respiration shifts with our emotional state: while we might take about 6 slow, deep breaths per minute when we’re relaxed and at rest; breathing becomes fast and shallow with as many as 16 per minute when we’re frightened or anxious. Dr. Andrew Weil1, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, believes that breathing is so crucial to the body’s ability to heal and sustain itself that he says, “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.”

Let’s consider three habits of breathing: clavicular breathing, chest (thoracic) breathing, and belly (abdominal) breathing. Clavicular breathing uses the shoulders and clavicle to move the air, and is automatically called on most often when people feel stressed, panicked or are struggling for breath. Breathing centered in the chest, with chest and lungs expanding, is the most common kind of breathing; however, the expansion is often restricted by muscular tension around the ribs and abdomen, providing less airflow and more rapid respiration. Abdominal breathing usually needs to be learned and done with intention: Purposely empty your lungs of air, then, as you inhale, inflate the abdominal cavity (the belly) in a 3-D way, allowing it to expand without effort. It seems this deep breathing can activate the vagus nerve and result in a relaxation response from the parasympathetic nervous system; allowing the body to heal, repair and restore.

Belly Breathing is one of the 26 Brain Gym activities included in our “Midline Movements” category. We use Belly Breathing as a way to release stress, increase relaxation, and sustain focus of attention.2 We also use Belly Breathing in teaching students how to access vocal strength and expression for reading and phrasing. The slow expansion of the belly provides a pleasant deepening of inhalation and more complete exhalation, as well as a decrease in the frequency of respiration.

In a recent research study3, diaphragmatic breathing was highly correlated with sustained attention, decreased negative affect, and lower cortisol levels. It has also been associated with reduced fatigue and anxiety (Zeidan et al., 2010), and with the ability of children with ADHD to manage symptoms of inattention (Amon and Campbell, 2008). These studies build on many others connecting diaphragmatic breathing with significant and varied physiological benefits, from oxygenation (Bernardi et al., 1998), to reduced blood pressure (Wang et al., 2010), to states of calm and arousal (Krasnow et all, 2017), and more.

1) Andrew Weil, M.D., Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing, audio CD, Sounds True, 1999.
2) Dennison, Paul E. and Dennison, Gail E. Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., 2010.
3) The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Xiao MaZi-Qi YueZhu-Qing Gong, Hong ZhangNai-Yue DuanYu-Tong ShiGao-Xia Wei, and You-Fa Li. Front Psychol. 2017; 8: 874. Published online 2017 Jun 6. doi: PMCID: PMC5455070 

Photo Credit: ID 33052574 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd Dreamstime.com

Using Two Hands to Engage Centralized Focus and Attention After a Stroke

Glenys Leadbeater, RN, New Zealand

Glenys Leadbeater, RN

Brain Gym first came to my attention in 1984 when the younger of my two boys was having difficulty learning in the traditional school system. He was just age nine when he began to do the activities, and the changes in his attitude and his physical skills when reading and writing soon boosted his confidence.

I became interested in the idea that movement is important in helping people learn, and began taking Brain Gym courses and even teaching. By the time my son was aged 13, he enrolled himself in a speed-reading course. He has continued making self-directed choices about his ongoing education.

In 2003 I attended my first workshop in Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision*, and in 2007 completed my training to become a Teacher Trainer. I have been facilitating this amazing course worldwide since 2007, having now taught more than 30 courses. The Double Doodle Play workshop is built around play and games that engage both hands in drawing and tracing images, tactilely and kinesthetically, in the center of vision. The continuous up- down- in- and out- motions relax the eyes and enhance visual skills by supporting hand-eye coordination and sustained eye teaming in the visual midfield.

In 2009 I met Rod Dennis, the founder of the Rodney Aphasia Group, Inc.**, and he invited me to be guest speaker at one of their monthly meetings. Every year since 2010 I’ve given a Double Doodle Play workshop for the Rodney Aphasia Group, modifying the course especially for people who have been left with aphasia following a stroke. Aphasia literally means “absence of speech.” Aphasia is the term used to describe the loss of a previous ability to express or understand spoken or written language, due to disease or injury to the language area of the brain. In New Zealand, strokes are the major cause of aphasia, and head injury is the 2nd most common cause. 

The members may attend as many times as they like, and usually do so for a couple of years in a row. New members are always joining. I have now taught Double Doodle Play to more than 50 aphasia students in the last seven years. I also attend the group’s monthly meetings, when able, to encourage them in using the Brain Gym activities. 

Since many members of my aphasia group experience fatigue when concentrating,  I usually offer the course in two half-day sessions, scheduled a week apart. I find that, in today’s busy world, one key to helping learners of any ability to become more attentive to their needs and gifts is to teach them the four Brain Gym activities that make up PACE.

Often, learners are simply overthinking, moving too fast, or trying too hard to notice what’s actually happening with their physiology. So in that first session, I spend a lot of time teaching PACE—an acronym for Positive, Active, Clear, and Energetic, and for four basic Brain Gym activities that support hydration, near-far range of visual motion, bilateral coordination, and balance. For each of the four activities, we do considerable “before and after” noticing*, to enhance student’s mindful awareness of their visual/sensory processes.

For this article, six of my students from the aphasia group have given permission for me to share their photos, their before and after drawings from this year, and a little about them.

Ruth, our group chair, explores use of both hands together on the midline.

Ruth, attending for the first time this year, says that doing Brain Buttons (one of the four PACE activities) helps her to slow down her thoughts. She finds that after doing the Brain Buttons she can speak in whole sentences, as long as she speaks slowly. She also uses the activity when chairing the meetings, to help her when searching for sentence structure.

Ruth’s Trees (Top: Before
Bottom: At course completion)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My students often tell me that doing the PACE activities gives them sensory cues to help them slow down, notice what they’re thinking and feeling, and connect with the natural rhythms and ranges of eye and body movement.

Des has been attending the group since 2010.

Often, a student’s partner will attend the workshop with them. Sometimes partners find it even more challenging to do the Double Doodle Play activities than those who have had a stroke. 

For the first two years after his wife had a stroke, Des came to the meetings together with her. After she died in 2012 from yet another stroke, Des has continued to attend, saying that he greatly enjoys the playful experience. He appreciates the yearly up-date and learns something new every time. This time, he says, he learned how important it is to do PACE slowly and mindfully.

Des’s before and after trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The experience of aphasia is different for each person. Many of the students I teach experience mild to severe difficulties finding words, reading text, or understanding what other people are saying. Some also have the physical signs of stroke with restricted movement on the right side of their body.

Karlene discovers the ease of Double Doodling as she orients each flower to her midline.

Karlene is new to the group. She finds that she gets easily frustrated. She often has tears as she speaks and, although she voices strong feelings, she sometimes has difficulty remembering. She says that, through doing the course, she has learnt to listen, and has much more confidence. She speaks of using the power of PACE in all her therapies (those that she is enrolled in as part of the Aphasia Group continuing support programme).

Karlene’s before & after trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeannie, Karlene’s mum, also attended the course for the first time. Janelle has struggled to help Karlene, and is grateful for the positive change in Karlene in just the one week. Other members of the group at our most recent meeting expressed to me the changes they see in Karlene, as well, noting that she has become more centered and better prepared to interact socially with friends playing darts.

Jeannie, Karlene’s mum, is there for her daughter.

Jeannie’s before & after trees

When teaching, I use basic principles from Brain Gym 101: Namely, Noticing and the Dynamic Brain Model.** I explain briefly the anatomy of the brain and its corresponding sensory and motor pathways. I find this imagery helps to facilitate an experiential process of Dennison Laterality Repatterning*** with the whole group (usually done while sitting down, as balance is a concern). I keep the information simple, with diagrams to support their understanding. I speak slowly, monitoring each student’s ability to stay with me.

I follow this activity with either a Deepening Attitude Balance and /or a F.A.S.T. Action Balance, focused around each person’s sensory memory of the stroke experience. Through the years, many students have particularly shared with me that doing these two balances have provided a turning point in their ability to move forward.

Mal attends with his wife, Leoni.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mal attends the courses and monthly meetings with his wife, Leonie. He says that he has learnt a lot about accepting that life has changed, now that his wife has had a stroke. He has done a lot of research on different methodologies to assist Leonie.

Mal’s before & after trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second week, in session two, we explore the Double Doodle Play process in greater depth, using five simple hand movements. We play with scarves in the air, Double Doodling the various shapes to music by Mozart. I am also lucky enough to have rolls of whiteboard-like material that we can use with whiteboard pens, which we erase and reuse. The before and after work shown here was done with markers on paper.

Most of these participants have now recovered from their strokes to the point where they show no visible signs of it until they attempt to speak.

Leoni is learning to write and draw with her left hand.

Leonie, a talented writer and lifelong right-hander, has been unable to “un-claw” her right hand since the stroke. She can do large motor movement with her right arm; however, she doesn’t yet have fine-motor control with her right hand. So Leonie is exploring how to write with her left hand and has gained more confidence in her penmanship since taking the course. So far, she still struggles to do the Cross Crawl. She is fiercely independent, now walking with a stick.

Leonie is verbally challenged and looks to Mal to speak for her. At the beginning of the class Leonie only spoke in single words. By the end of the two sessions, she was able to speak a full sentence with confidence, sharing about how much she enjoyed the class.

I am so humbled to work with these courageous people.  Δ

Leoni’s before & after drawings.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Double Doodle and other Brain Gym activities are described in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©2010, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA.

**Rodney Aphasia Group, Inc., is in Orewa, New Zealand.

“Before and after” noticing is described in Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Living Manual, (pages 59, 62 64).

**Brain Gym courses are based on the balance process: Five Steps to Easy Learning. Dennison Laterality Repatterning and other balances mentioned here are taught in Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life.

Glenys Leadbeater, Orewa, New Zealand, is a registered nurse with a post graduate diploma in Operating Theatre Techniques. A Brain Gym International Faculty member since, 1992, Glenys has done extensive training since 1985 with the founders of Educational Kinesiology, Dr. Paul and Gail Dennison. Glenys is one of the founders of Edu-K in New Zealand, and sits on the Board there. Brain Gym International recognized her in 2001 with the Outstanding Achievement Award for her contributions to Educational Kinesiology. She has worked tirelessly in promoting Edu-K to people from all areas of life, and traveled extensively, teaching in over 14 countries, as well as sponsoring many international Brain Gym instructors and courses in New Zealand.

Glenys has been teaching for over 35 years. Besides Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, Glenys also teaches Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life, Optimal Brain Organization, Visioncircles, and the following advanced courses—Edu-K In Depth: Seven Dimensions of Intelligence, Creative Vision, Total Core Repatterning, Movement Re-Education, Brain Gym Teacher Practicum, Optimal Brain Organization Teacher Training, Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision Teacher’s Training, Visioncircles Teacher Training.

Glenys is a keen gardener and homemaker. She enjoys playing tennis, cycling and beach-walking, knitting and crochet. She also shares the interests and successes of her husband Roger, her two sons, Brendon and Gareth, daughter-in-law Marie, and grandsons Matthew and Joshua. 

© 2017 by Glenys Leadbeater. All rights reserved.

Click here to read a translation of this article into Italian.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International/the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you. 

You might also enjoy these articles 

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole Brain Vision

Creating Beauty with Two Hands

 

 

 

 

Danny and the Birth of Brain Gym

Danny surprised himself by reading with fluency for the first time.

Children are often surprised to understand the words as they read them after doing some Brain Gym activities.


Learning is about doing. Children become self-initiating learners when they connect or re-connect with the movement patterns that call them into action. As a reading teacher once indoctrinated in the idea that learning is a mental activity, I first wrestled with this paradoxical point of view in the early 1970s. I saw struggling learners at my reading centers make their biggest leaps in reading, writing, and processing language, not through repetition and memorization, but by mastering physical (sensorimotor) skills related to the integration of perception and action.

Over time, I developed a system, Educational Kinesiology: Seven Dimensions of Intelligence*, based on a simple principle: Create learning opportunities so that students can connect with the physical skills.

I helped learners discover how to integrate their movement patterns in terms of left-right, up-down, and back-to-front directions. I further found that by prioritizing these dimensions I could more readily create a teachable moment for engaging skills of centralization, spatial awareness, holding a tool (like a pencil) effectively, and so on.

Gail and I in 1986, around the time we published our little orange book. This is a rare photo from that time of me without glasses.

Gail and I in 1986, during our early days of co-teaching.

I asked my friend and colleague, Gail Hargrove (later to become my wife), to help me organize my processes into a course manual. We soon found that it was our great joy to teach the work together.  In the early 1980s, Gail and I began teaching throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. We often stayed over for a few days in one location to give private consultations.

We would end each session by showing a few self-help activities from our repertoire that would take just minutes to do and serve as reminders of the goal, drawing stick-figure illustrations.

We chose movements that re-enforced any skills of balance, coordination, eye-teaming, and centralization learned in the session. We found that repeating these each day helped students to anchor new habits of movement, learning, playfulness, and self-calming.

Danny Discovers Reading

Our little "homeplay" book - Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning

Our little “homeplay” book – Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning

One afternoon in the spring of 1986 we had the good fortune to work with a woman, her husband, and son Danny*. Danny’s mother expressed her goal for him to improve his reading. When asked what he would like to learn to do more easily, seven-year-old Danny said that he wanted to be able to catch a ball better (he had been diagnosed with a mild cerebral palsy, and his movements were somewhat restricted).

While we were doing the Edu-K in Depth menu with him, Danny improved his hand-eye coordination with his right, previously shortened and “useless,” arm, which through muscle-relaxing activities now extended to the same length as his left.

Along with his mom, we joked around with him as we played catch with a crumpled paper “ball” and asked Danny to write his name and draw a picture. By the end of the session, Danny’s eyes had come to life and he read fluently and with comprehension for the first time. His mother listened with tears streaming down her face. We laughed and chatted with Danny, confident in our good rapport, for we had become pals. 

Then I mentioned “homework” and Danny promptly got up and left the room, not to return. It was at this moment that Gail and I, realizing that our movements deserved a more playful name, coined the term “homeplay.”

My thoughts continued in this vein. In the context of the educational system of the ’70s and ’80s that referred to learning challenges as “minimal brain dysfunction,” and perhaps anticipating the ’90s and “the decade of the brain,” and further, given my understanding of cognitive science and the relationship between learning and movement, the name “Brain Gym” came to me. Gail and I both immediately liked the name.

“Brain Gym” clearly speaks of what our work is all about: bringing together the thinking intelligence and the coordination of the body.

Gail took this photo of me in Brisbane on our first trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Gail took this photo of me in Brisbane on our first trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Gail and I envisioned putting our best activities into a small book that we could give away to students as “homeplay” after a private session, and began working on that project. Our booklet, Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning included 26 easy-to-do physical movements that enhance learning.

A few weeks later, we sent our paste-up version to the printer, just as we boarded a plane to teach our first courses in Australia and New Zealand. A draft of the booklet went with us, and as we shared it with students, we suddenly saw that these quick and simple activities could become as important as our in-depth work. Soon after, we reworked some of our course material into what is now Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life, which included the activities.

We didn’t then imagine that our “little orange book” would eventually be translated into 20-some languages, used in more than 80 countries, and, thirty years later, still be bringing play and ease to the learning process for people of all ages and abilities.  Δ

 

*Educational Kinesiology in Depth: Seven Dimensions of Intelligence, uses a priority system to explore left-right, up-down, back-to-front directional movements, as well as motivation, breathing, self-regulation, and cranial movement (habits of teeth and jaw). For more about how Paul chose the Brain Gym activities, see Freedom in Learning: The Gifts of a Child-Centered Education.

**Danny is not his real name. This story is excerpted from Brain Gym and Me: Reclaiming the Pleasure of Learning, by Paul E. Dennison,©1986.
***The Brain Gym activities are described in depth, along with suggested applications, in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©2010, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA. Inspiration for the activities was drawn from many sources, including Developmental Optometry, dance, long distance running, child development, the postural work of F.M. Alexander, the Touch for Health process, and our own inventiveness. More and more, we realized the value of this collection of movements that so effectively facilitate learning, enhance the enjoyment of daily life, and help individuals attain more of their potential.

 

Photo Credits: Boy reading – ID 1158000 © Michal Bednarek | Dreamstime.com

 

© 2016 by Paul E. Dennison. All rights reserved.

 

Brain Gym® is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you.

 

You might also enjoy:

The Cross Crawl: A Remarkable Movement

Discovering the Reading Midfield

How Reading Is Like Playing Soccer

 

In Celebration of Handwriting

Honoring Move-to-Learn Pioneers at the 2016 Edu-K Conference

Paul and Gail do "The Give and Take" from the Integrated Movements menu.

Gail and Paul do “The Give and Take” from the Integrated Movements menu.

Dear participants at the 2016 Annual EKF Conference,

Our thanks and congratulations to the board, staff, and all who are coming together to move, play, and share in this year’s 4-day June event in Portland, Maine.

The  theme—“Port of Potential”—with its invitation of holding new possibilities for our lives and exploring “all things capable of becoming real,” is an invitation to explore the arts, wellness, movement patterns and sensory skills, business development, and much more.

As we envisioned an annual conference, we saw the value of developing the profession of Educational Kinesiologist. Our dream has come true as our language of learning through movement has been validated and recognized by educators, kinesiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and many neuroscientists across the planet. Edu-K and the Brain Gym program represent excellence and professionalism. We’re proud of all of you and extend our humble gratitude for your steadfast loyalty over these many years.

The two of us, having attended 25 plus Edu-K conferences over the years—beginning in 1989 at Murrieta Hot Springs, California—know these gatherings as rich opportunities to connect with dear, longtime friends worldwide and to meet new ones, exchange Edu-K balances, and deepen our inner listening to the needs and desires for our own lives. We’ll be thinking of all of you as you call upon your dreams and visions and discover new ways to embody them; we are with you in spirit and we’ll be calling in our own.

Celebrating Keynote Presenters:
Carla Hannaford (presentation title yet to be announced), is an award winning biologist and educator, and an inspiring and knowledgeable speaker. The author of four books, all of which have been translated into many languages, her work is quoted in more than 1,000 books and journals. She is the creator of the Physiological Basis of Learning/Brain Gym series of courses and a Visioncircles Teacher Trainer. Dr. Hannaford is truly a pioneer of learning through movement, having taught in 48 countries world wide.

Rose Harrow, “Charge What You’re Worth – and Get it!,” is another longtime Edu-K  trailblazer. An International faculty member of 30+ years, she has served many roles within the Foundation, including that of Network Coordinator and Executive Director. A certified business coach, Rose currently mentors Brain Gym Instructors to “take the lid off of their success, increase their income, joyfully create a sustainable business and expand their service to more people.”

Dionne Kamara, “Jamaica Brain Dance – Laying the Groundwork,” is a teaching artist in NYC, where she works with people of all ages. She began learning traditional Kumina dances, under her great-grandmother’s tutelage, as a child in Jamaica. A professional dancer for many years, she has toured internationally with the renowned dance company Urban Bush Women. She co-teaches with her mentor Anne Green Gilbert at the Summer Dance Institute for teachers in Seattle, Washington.

More Edu-K Pioneers
We’re thrilled to see that many other move-to-learn pioneers among the International Faculty members—some who have been faculty for 25 years or more—will also be presenting this year:
Don Wetsel, MA, LAc, BCTMB, Virginia –  “From Stress to Creative Success”
Renate Wennekes, Germany – “Brain Gym Activities in a Developmental Perspective”
Colleen Gardner, Colorado “Come to Your Senses, All 12 of Them!”
Glenys Leadbeater, RN, New Zealand – “Port of Potential, Double Doodle Style”
Barbara Wards, New Zealand – “Working With Facial, Tongue, & Throat Muscles to Improve Communication”
Cindy Goldade, MA, Minnesota – “The Art & Science of Storytelling”
Sharon Plaskett, Utah – “Five Elements and Brain Physiology”
Paula Oleska, (Emerita), New York – “Your Secret Brain, the Key to Your Potential”

We were moved to read of the many other innovative professional development presentations and breakout sessions that have been scheduled—many of them being given by leaders who first became Brain Gym Instructors in the mid- 1980s. We would love to thank each of you by name; since the list is long, you can read it here. Click here for information on post conference events.

Our Current Focus
This year we celebrate the thirty-year anniversary of our little orange book, Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning, written initially as a “homeplay” handout for Edu-K students. Paul continues teaching local courses here in Ventura, California, and taught this spring in Belgium, France, and Switzerland. This fall, he’ll travel to Japan for the third time. Click here to read about his course last year in Dubai. Meanwhile, Gail continues working on blogs, digital product updates, and our latest book project.

Gail and Paul Dennison

Gail and Paul Dennison

As we continue to grow the presence of Brain Gym and Educational Kinesiology in the social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), we appreciate these avenues as a grassroots opportunity to update parents and educators with the latest research on movement, play, and learning, as well as a way to connect with so many of you. Thank you for your support!

In today’s technologically driven world that teaches both near-point overfocus and passive sitting, the Edu-K work is becoming more important than ever—not only for schoolchildren but for people of all ages. Research daily calls each of us to action by way of bringing increased movement, play, and structural alignment to our everyday activities, and especially in the learning environment. |

Where Edu-K once pioneered the field of movement-based learning, there are now many “move to learn” programs. The 26 Brain Gym activities, the Brain Gym 101 course, Seven Dimensions of Intelligence, and our other fine courses remain unrivaled in scope, simplicity, and a regard for the learner through self-actualizing activities. Research in neuroscience continues to catch up with our commonsense recognition of the interrelationship of the human body and optimal brain function.

Please connect with us through our learning resource site, Hearts at Play: Move, Learn, Bloom, that offers blogposts and videos to answer many of the how, what, and why questions about the Edu-K work that you’ve asked us throughout the years. We trust you’ll find this site useful in creating immediate interest in your courses and private sessions. May we all keep finding balance as we progress in our personal and professional goals, and may we all keep moving with joy!

Love and hugs to all,
Gail and Paul Dennison

For more about the Edu-K approach to whole-brain learning, see Paul’s article: Why I Chose Research Over the Ivory Tower.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym® International. Click here for the name of an instructor in your area.

 

 

 

Brain Gym in Shanghai: A Photo Journal

Amy_300dpi

by Amy CHOI Wai Ming, Hong Kong

I’m very happy to share with you that, after 16 years as a Brain Gym Instructor, last summer I taught my biggest course* ever—a five-day class held in Shanghai in July, 2015. There were 40-some people, and for the first time I taught the course for parents and children without using any Power Point! I taught by pure noticing*. It was a body-oriented, drawing-out experience, and one that I especially enjoyed teaching.

The Brain Gym Instructors who reviewed the class or served as teaching assistants also enjoyed it very much. We sometimes let the kids get up and run around, and they were happy to get involved in all the movements, activities, and balance* processes.

We also used the figure 8 graphic of the Learning Flow* Chart from Brain Gym Teachers Edition. With the Dennisons’ permission, I made two teaching posters: one about 1.5 meters wide (you can see it in the background of the group photo) and the other a big floor mat (photo 10, link below), so that participants could walk on it and notice when they were in integrated high and low gears and when they were in stress. The students appreciated these posters, which many reviewers and Brain Gym Instructors who attended the course said helped them really “get it” for the first time.

A group photo of parents and children attending the Brain Gym 101 course in Shanghai, July 2015. Instructor Amy Choi is in the 2nd row, center.

Amy CHOI (2nd row, center) with parents and children at a Brain Gym 101 course she taught in Shanghai, July 2015.

After the course, I put together some photos to share with this article (read on for detailed captions of these). (For those who don’t have a yahoo/Flickr account, you can see the photos at https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0092009/gp/brainbodycentre/MqT7R2/)

CAPTIONS FOR THE PHOTOS AT THE LINK
Title Photo: July 7, 2015 Brain Gym 101 course – Students gather for a class photo!
Photos 1 & 2:
Teaching assistants in the Shanghai course make class posters using the Double Doodle activity, drawing with two hands at once.
Photo 3: Students notice what they emphasize or omit in their own learning as they refer to Edu-K’s three learning dimensions.
Photo 4: Class assistants prepare teaching aids for the class: Amy finds that rubber band ropes are excellent tool for noticing whole-body movement in the Dennison Laterality Repatterning*** balance.
Photo 5: Amy’s enlarged draft version of the Learning Flow chart makes discovery of high and low gears more visceral.
Photo 6: In the group circle, parents and children discuss what they notice about how they learn, and about the impact of stress on their sensory perception.
Photo 7: The children are exuberant in their play and explorations as they do a group balance for crossing the midline for whole-body movement.
Photo 8: A mother and son do Brain Gym Hook-ups together. In the background: Double Doodle drawings, Lazy 8s, a goal chart, and Brain Gym posters.
Photo 9: Participants do the Positive Points.
Photo 10: Doing pre-activities for an Action Balance for Focus; noticing whole-body focus.
Photo 11: A mother and son do the Footflex for ease of focus and attention.
Photo 12: Participants do the Owl to release shoulder tension.
Photo 13: The Grounder helps release hip tension and restore flexibility.
Photo 14: Art can be play!
Photo 15: Two teenagers from two different cities become friends after joining the Brain Gym 101 course.
Photos 16 and 17: Student’s notice their personal reference points within the Learning Flow, using Hook-ups to connect with a new learning response.
Photos 18 and 19: Discussion (left) and games (right).
Photo 20: Fun and playfulness during the class photo! Amy CHOI is in the second row, center.
Photo 21-23: Student drawings of the three dimensions: The Robot, The Swimmer, and The Penguin are the metaphors we use to describe three aspects of integrated learning.
Photo 24: a young man assists his mother in noticing her hearing/listening via her left ear.
Photo 25: Amy with two young students.
Photo 26: Participants note their learning process, then do the Elephant activity for relaxed listening.

Amy CHOI Wai Ming (center) and a group of kindergarten teachers share some results of their two-handed artwork from a Double Doodle Play course held in Hong Kong, fall of 2015.

Amy CHOI (center) and a group of kindergarten teachers share some results of their two-handed artwork from the course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Learning, held in Hong Kong in the fall of 2015.

I’m grateful to my sponsor, Mr. Shi Jian Ping of Shanghai Sunflower Studio, who provided the space for this wonderful course to happen. I would also like to thank Gail and Paul Dennison for their visionary work, Glenys Leadbeater for guiding me to join the International Faculty, and my many wonderful Edu-K teachers, including my first instructors: the late Zale Giffin of California, Flo Johnasen of Hawaii, and my close friend and teacher Carla Hannaford of Utah. 

Amy CHOI Wai Ming, a Brain Gym International Faculty Member in Hong Kong, became a Brain Gym Instructor/Consultant in 1999. She uses Edu-K’s PACE (emphasizing rhythm and timing) and space (for proprioception and spatial awareness) activities to explore new ways to play and move. Amy says her best tools to support others in finding authenticity through whole-body movement are her Kinesiology training and listening to her own body and intuition. She teaches all the core subjects of the Edu-K curriculum, and especially enjoys facilitating the Double Doodle Play basic and Teacher Training workshops. To find out more about Amy and her work, visit www.brainbodycentre.com 

* Students of Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life experience the 26 activities and 11 Action Balances related to basic functions, such as reading, listening, writing, moving. Participants explore the process of “noticing” in terms of the Learning Flow.
** The Double Doodle, the Footflex, and other activities mentioned here are part of the 26 Brain Gym activities detailed in Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison, which also describes how to use the Learning Flow.
***Dennison Laterality Repatterning is a short movement process that teaches learners how to shift from avoiding the visual and movement midline (and thus using one side of the body excessively) to functioning in terms of this midline and the two-sided midfield that it makes available.

© 2016 Amy CHOI Wai Ming. All rights reserved

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Fall Leaves with Double Doodle Play – A Tutorial

Homemade leaves, strung on a pretty ribbon, make a decorative fall banner and a joyful way to learn about leaves and trees.

Homemade leaves, strung on a pretty ribbon, make a decorative fall banner and a joyful way to learn about leaves and trees.

My 12-year old granddaughter and I recently made this simple banner of fall leaves to decorate the chandelier above the family table. She came to me with the idea.

This is a fun and simple project for ages 8 and up. Start to finish, it took us 40 minutes, including the time we leisurely discussed different types of trees and their leaf formations. Actual drawing time was about 5 minutes. Cutting took the longest.

What you’ll need (see the photo, right):

IMG_6757

marking pens
colored paper
masking tape (not shown) to hold down the corners of your final drawing
scissors
hole punch
an interesting ribbon or string
leaf samples – a few interesting leaves from outside
(we used some illustrations as our guide)

How to:

  1. Select one or more types of leaf to draw. We got our ideas from the illustrations on the Heritage playing cards,* as this gave us a chance to look at the beautiful variations of leaves from different trees, as well as the overall tree shapes.
A glimpse of a few of tree and leaf varieties that we discussed and chose from.

A glimpse of a few of the tree and leaf varieties that we discussed and chose from.

 

 

We especially liked the shapes of the leaves on the field maple and red oak, shown here.

We especially liked the shapes of the leaves on the field maple and red oak, shown here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Do a few quick sketches and select the ones you like best for copying.

A 12-year old's quick Double-Doodle sketches.

A 12-year old’s quick Double-Doodle sketches.

My quick Double Doodling of willow leaves. It's fun to use 2 colors; though not essential.

My quick Double Doodling of willow leaves. It’s fun to use 2 colors; though not essential.

3. Tape the corners of your paper to a table, so that it’s squarely in front of where you’ll be standing or sitting as you draw

4. Align what will be the center (the leaf’s midrib) with your sternum. (If you’re new to the Double Doodle, you can click here for more basic drawing instructions.)

Notice how drawing different parts of your leaf can invite you to make different hand motions.

Notice how drawing different parts of your leaf can invite you to make different hand motions.

5. Draw the outside contour of your leaf. Many leaf shapes are easiest to draw if you turn the leaf so that it’s tip is facing you, and begin by drawing the petiole, the part that attaches to the branch. This way, your hands can move easily toward you in a flowing motion, gliding slightly in and out as you follow any interesting contours of the leaf blade. You’ll see in the photo at left that my granddaughter experimented with drawing the leaves both ways; beginning from the tip (far left) and from the petioles (larger drawings at right). In some cases, we used our leaf templates as a jumping off point to create our own imaginative shapes. Leaves are not usually perfectly symmetrical, and yours will probably not be. Imperfections make them more interesting and natural looking. Note: We made the petioles quite wide to accommodate the hole punch.

Some completed Double Doodle leaves.

Some completed Double Doodle leaves.

6. You can draw the leaf’s midrib (it’s midline) with one hand, or else, if you wish to keep going with the kinesthetic feeling of the Double Doodle, place your non-dominant hand on top of your dominant one as you draw this downward stroke. I find it easiest to do the veins and small netted veins at the leaf sides with both hands at once, flowing directionally down and out from my midline.

7. Cut out the leaf shapes.

8. Use your hole punch to make a hole in the bottom of each leaf (see photo, right).

9. Thread the leaves onto an interesting ribbon and then string it on a mantle, in front of a window, or wherever you like.

Happy celebration of autumn!  

My granddaughter threads the leaves onto a silver ribbon she found in the gift recycle.

My granddaughter threads the leaves onto a silver ribbon she found in the gift recycle.

*Since I often travel to teach the course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Learning, I like to have small artistic templates to inspire my students. The Heritage Playing cards offer a wide range of beautifully illustrated cards. For our banner, we used their “Famous Trees,” on Amazon here. Heritage cards also offers a host of other options, including such favorites as Backyard Birds, Ocean Animals, and African Animals.

The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym activities, from Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison.

You might also like:
Double Doodle Hearts and Flowers for Mother’s Day

Halloween Magic with Two-Handed Play!
Make Double Doodle Pumpkin Faces for Halloween Fun

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole Brain Vision

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

Paul and Gail: Reflections on 2012
Creating Beauty with Two Hands

© 2015 Gail Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International/The Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

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