We have several East Indian friends attending our weekly meditation evenings and when we shared a new brain exercise we learned in India last year, they all giggled and shared that it isn't new; in fact it is quite an ancient practice taught to all children. However, they also said that because it takes a bit of focus and physical exertion their parents used it as a punitive tool when they would misbehave. Quite clever I think to use something that is actually good for the child while setting clear boundaries. Something we should think about for our parenting, eh?
In the west, this old practice has been adopted and renamed Super Brain Yoga by some. Here are some of the benefits of doing this regular exercise:
- energises and activates the brain power by synchronising alpha
brain waves (can enhance exam scores)
- decrease psychological stress (improves disruptive behaviour
- Increases intelligence and creative skills (more focused)
- promotes overall functioning of brain power (supports autism,
aspergers, and any learning disabilities)
- releases tension and calms brain (relieves depression and anxiety
levels) (helps in partial cleansing of mental stress and energises
the chakras and aura)
- transforms low energy into higher forms of energy (increases flow
of energy in the body)
- become well-balanced and have clear thinking
- supports spiritual growth and maturity
- regulates and improves sex drive
- increases inner peace of mind
- great quad workout
Precautions: don't do on a unrested mind (angry, sad, etc)
- take off all jewellery as it distracts the energy
- practice in a quiet room
- keep good posture-stand straight and keep head down
How To Do This Ancient Mid Brain Activation Practice
Facing eastward (elders face north)
Take left arm and grab the right earlobe, thumb facing out
Take right arm and grab the left earlobe, thumb facing out
Put your tongue up to the palette
Keeping focused, inhale and squat down and then lift the heels
Exhaling, come up and put heels down
Repeat for 14 times for 1 minute
Do this every day
Although the Indian practice is slightly different and is coupled with further breathing exercises and inner meditations, the physical aspect is the same.
You can finish off your exercise with a few minutes of conscious breathing. (See this post)
There are many layers to us that make up our ability to encounter all manner of experiences in life. One structure is called the triangle of relaxation made up of the mind, energy and breath. What happens in one aspect affects the other two and same for the others. We cannot control our mind nor our energy but we can control and affect our breath. Therefore, this is one way we can bring some measure of command over our personal experience.
For example, if you are angry, the breath becomes fast. If you are frightened, the body contracts and the rhythm of the breathing changes. Not only that, but your energy rises or falls depending on the emotion and the breath and you feel high or low. Similarly, when you become aware of your breathing when you are angry, etc. your breathing automatically becomes normal and you calm down and the energies are also fine. You feel more alright or energetic.
Below is a very powerful meditation using the breath and the fingers which also affect the brain action. Engaging in this practice daily, begins to bring calm, restfulness and clarity. It also empowers your ability to bring about change in your life thru the power of intention.
What is the Brainstem & Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction and use of the Treadmill Test for Sub-Clinical Progressive Exercise Training
During a concussion or traumatic brain injury, the soft jelly-like brain tissue is bumped against the inside of the skull causing injury to the nerve tissue of the brain or hemispheres. What is often overlooked is that the two brain hemispheres receive information via a long tube of nerves called the spinal cord. At the very top, just before this cord blends with the two hemispheres there is a section called the brainstem.
The brainstem has integrative functions being involved in cardiovascular system control, respiratory control, pain sensitivity control, alertness and awareness. Thus, brainstem damage is a very serious and often life-threatening problem. It also regulates the central nervous system, and is pivotal in maintaining consciousness and regulating the sleep cycle. So, the brainstem has many basic functions including heart rate, breathing, sleeping, and eating. Damage of the brainstem can result in abnormalities in the function of cranial nerves that may lead to visual disturbances, pupil abnormalities, changes in sensation, muscle weakness, hearing problems, vertigo, swallowing and speech difficulty, migraine, voice change and co-ordination problems.
This brainstem or tail-like structure at the bottom of the rounded brain hemispheres gets stretched and pulled when the head and the brain inside the head gets flicked forwards and backwards during a fall or a blow to the head. The brainstem is like a cord or rope that is attached to a ball. When the ball gets thrown or kicked that rope or cord gets yanked and pulled where it joins the ball.
The difference between a rope and ball versus the brain and the spinal cord is that the spinal cord is made of clusters of soft jelly strings similar in function to telephone wires carrying information to and from the brain to the body. The brainstem starts level with the bottom of the first neck bone which is 2-3 cm below the bottom of the head. So, the brainstem is not all contained nor protected by the skull. Therefore, the sudden rapid stretching and pulling on the brainstem and spinal cord damages those information pathways.
The brainstem is critical in that most of the bodies automatic activities are controlled from here. Such things as blood pressure, body temperature regulation, breath rate, heart rate, blood flow to and activity of the digestive organs such as the stomach, spleen, liver, kidney, pancreas, the large and small intestines and more. The brainstem even has a direct effect on the hormonal system.
A key control system for the organs is the autonomic nervous system which originates in the brainstem. This autonomic system has two parts: the sympathetic part that is like the accelerator in the car which speeds up and readies all the organs, blood flow etc. for action while the other part, the parasympathetic system, is like the brake in a car; it slows everything down and starts the rest and repair phase after a period of high activity. These two parts dance a continuous dance; one responding to the other; one speeding things up the other controlling and slowing things down.
When the autonomic system is out of balance, concussion clients can have trouble controlling body temperature so they will be cold and sweating or they might have low energy because one or the other part of that system does not do its complementary part to balance heart rate or blood pressure. This is tiring and makes people feel unwell and unmotivated or they can’t think straight because their brains are trying to make sense of information that it can’t correct or control. Often concussion clients can feel like they are going to black out but never quite do. Other symptoms can be lethargy or in a constant state of high alert or panic. These are just some of the symptoms of autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
How does this get assessed?
A simple three-minute test with a plethysmograph gives a pretty good clue if one part of the system is not working nor enough power to bring the system back into balance.
The plethysmograph is followed up with a treadmill test or the treadmill test can be carried out on its own. This is a test where the client’s heart rate, concussion symptoms and how hard they feel like they are working are closely monitored. If there are sudden changes in any one of those three things; heart rate, effort or symptoms such as headaches increasing, then the test is stopped and a baseline or starting point for treatment using a treadmill or exercycle for a progressive sub-clinical exercise program has been found.
The idea behind the exercise program is to keep the heart working at a set rate forcing the two parts of the autonomic nervous system to work/dance as a complementary inseparable duo again.
The Max Pulse is a simple, user-friendly, non-invasive, FDA Class
II medical screening device. This simple 3-minute
plethysmograph reading which measures arterial plaque and
aging vascular health, heart rate variability, autonomic nervous
system readout of the overall balance between the sympathetic
and para-sympathetic system and physical stress readings of
stress. This gives us better information to more accurately
prescribe a comprehensive treatment protocol, especially when
rehabilitating from injuries.