Extracted from:  Brain Gym

         Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning

by Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D.

& Gail E. Dennison


The following exercises are designed to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and bring them into coordinated balance.



       Midline movements

          These are activities that help one to practice using both hemispheres together, in harmony.


1) Cross Crawl:          open to new things.

          Coordinate the movement so that when an arm moves, the leg on the opposite side of the body moves at the same time.  Move to the front, sides, and back and move the eyes in all directions.  It helps to touch the hand to the opposite knee occasionally to "cross the midline".


2) Lazy 8's:             helps memory.

          With each hand separately and then with both hands together do three times drawing a horizontal figure eight focusing the eyes on the hand(s) in motion.  Starting in the middle, moving upward and to the left, then around counterclockwise back to the middle and up again to the right moving into a clockwise direction back to the middle.


3) Elephant:          Relaxes neck and eyes.

          Bend your knees, "glue" your head to your shoulder, and point across the room.  Use your ribs to move your whole upper body as you trace a Lazy 8.  Look past your fingers.  Repeat with the other arm.


4) Neck rolls:          release tension.

          First with shoulders up drop your head forward, and gently roll it from side to side, breathing out the tightness.  Drop your head back and continue rolling.  Repeat with shoulders down.


5) Belly Breathing:              relieves nervousness.

          Rest your hand on your abdomen.  Blow out all the old air, in short, soft little puffs (like keeping a feather airborne).  Take a slow, deep breath, filling up gently, like a balloon.  Your hand softly rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.  If you arch your back after inhaling, the air goes even deeper.


6) Cross crawl sit-ups:    good warmup

          Lying on back with hands behind head pretend you are riding a bicycle as you touch the elbow to the opposite knee.


7) Cobra:          relax.

          Lying on your stomach lift up on your hands arching yourself backwards, quietly lifting you head back and letting you upper body follow.  Keep the muscles below the waist still and relaxed.


Lengthening Activities


          These help one assume a forward moving posture that gets one where they are going.  Use whenever you feel like holding back, or can't express what you know.


8) Owl:          releases tensions from sitting and reading.

          Grasp the shoulder with opposite arm and squeeze the muscles firmly.  Turn you head to look back over that same shoulder.  Breathe deeply, and pull your shoulders back.  Now look over the other shoulder, opening the shoulders again.  Drop you chin to your chest, and breathe deeply, letting the muscles relax.  Repeat with the hand squeezing the opposite shoulder.


9) Arm Activation:          creative writing.

          Hold one arm upward next to your ear.  Reach up with the other arm over your head and grasp the first arm.  Exhale gently through purse lips, while activating the muscles by pushing the arm against the other hand in four directions (front, back, left, and right).


10) Footflex:          connecting with language knowledge.

          Rest a leg on the opposite knee and grasp the tender spots in the ankle, calf, and behind the knee, one at a time, while slowly pointing and flexing the foot. 


11) Calf pump:          motivation.

          Placing one foot in front of the other and leaning or pushing on a wall or chair lean forward and exhale, press the back heel gently to the ground.  As you release, lift your heel up and take a deep breath.  Repeat three times in each side.  The more you bend the forward knee, the more lengthening you feel in the back of the calf.


12) Gravity glider:          after a day of sitting.

          Cross your ankles.  Keep your knees loose.  When you feel steady, bend over and reach out in front of you, letting your arms glide down as you exhale, and up as you inhale.  Repeat three times, then change legs.


13) Grounder:          focus energy.

          Start with your legs comfortable apart.  Point your right foot towards the right.  Keep the left foot pointed straight ahead.  Now bend the right knee as you exhale and, then, inhale as you straighten the right leg.  Keep you hips ticked under.  This strengthens the hip muscles (you feel it in the straight-leg side) and helps stabilize the back.  Repeat three times, then repeat on the left side.



        Energy exercises

          Helps one hook up the energy paths for more vitality.


14) Brain Buttons:          before use of eyes for reading.

          While holding the navelwith one hand, rub deeply just below the collarbone, to the right and left of the sternum.  Sometimes, you may do the lazy 8 with your nose or track the eyes across the line where the wall meets the ceiling.


15) Earth buttons:          energy exercises.

          Hold two fingers under the lower lip and rest the other hand on the upper edge of the pubic bone.  Breathe the energy up the center of the body.


16) Balance buttons:          minds alert and body relaxed.

          Touch two fingers to the indentation at the base of the skull; rest the other hand on the navel.  Breathe the energy up.  After a minute, hold behind the other ear.


17) Space buttons:          clear the head.

          Put two fingers above the upper lip and rest the other hand on the tail-bone.  Hold for a minute, breathing the energy up the spine.


18) Energy yawn: relax our voices.

          Pretend to yawn.  Put you fingertips against any tight spots you feel on you jaws.  Make a deep, relaxed, yawning sound, gently stroking away the tension.


19) Thinking Caps:  helps to hear.

          Gently unroll your ears, three times form top to bottom.


  Deepening Attitudes

          To get more in tune with the inner you.


20) Cook's Hook-ups:          to relieve sadness, confusion, or anger.

          The activity is done in two parts.  First, put you left ankle over your right knee.  Next, hook your right hand around your left ankle.  The put you left hand over the ball of the left foot.  (Some people will feel better sitting with the right ankle over the left).  Sit this way for one minute, breathing deeply, with eyes closed and your tongue on the roof of your mouth.  During the second part, uncross you legs and put your finger tips together, continuing to breathe deeply for another minute.


21) Positive points:          to relieve nervousness or fear.

          The positive pints are held lightly, with just enough pressure to pull the forehead skin taut.  The points are just above the eyeballs, halfway between the hairline and the eyebrow.





Smooth reading across the midline:          #13, #1, #2, #14.

Reading out loud:   #4, #18, #1, #5.

Answering questions:          #11, #10, #13.

Spelling:          #3, #19, #8.

Math: #3, #8, #11, #4, #12.

Printing/writing:   #2, #9.

Creative writing: #11, #10, #18.

Sports skills:          #1, #16, #17, #7.

Clear thinking & speaking:          #19, #1, #3, #20.

Inner sunshine:          #21, #20, #16.