Brain Yoga for the Hardened Head

I took my math placement test this morning. The good news is that I placed into the same math class as I did when I took the placement test when I was trying to get into Running Start (about 9 years ago). The bad news is that it’s still the lowest class to place into and still call it college math.

As I contemplated my math score, I began seeing my brain in a new light. I realized that it was this old, callused thing in my skull, that over the years it was no longer the pink mushy thing that babies have that help them through the birth canal. It’s just like the pineal glad that will harden over as well as time goes on. Funny how the padding around the gland mirrors the gland itself.

So, I’ve decided it’s high time for Brain Yoga. I need to limber my thinking muscle up so that when I get into the PE of brain I can learn the new skills without hurting myself.

I used to think myself so clever for being able to do Sudoku, and doing it every day, but I think Sudoku might be like climbing the stairs to your bedroom and calling that your day’s worth of exercise. I need a bit more.

I will adopt three daily habits to help make my brain limber and stretchy. Let’s face it, my skull is going to have to expand with all the knowledge stuffing I’m going to be doing over the next six years.

Play Chess everyday
Ok, so this might not be the best thing, and to the untrained eye it might just look like I’m sitting around playing games on my computer/phone, but chess requires calculative maneuvers, forethought, and thinking-outside-the-box. I’m on the easiest settings now, but before long, I’ll be on the expert level and kicking the computer’s ass.
In fact, studies have shown that playing chess can

  • Increase the IQ
  • Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk
  • Increase creativity
  • Work both sides of the brain
  • Improve memory
  • Improve Concentration
  • Get the tree neurons growin’ (You know, dendrites)
  • Can help treat Schizophrenia (who knew?!)
  • Improves Problem-Solving Skills
  • Can help with rehabilitation and therapy (including for folks with developmental disabilities)

Who’s just playing computer games now!

Exercise Daily
The brain needs oxygen to work at it’s best, and exercise is a good way to do that. My specifics that I’m aiming for will be in yoga, but some good cardio exercises seem like a good idea to get the mental muscle going as well.

  • Yoga Brain Poses:
    Trataka This will aid in memory, concentration, and anxiety. It’s also quite beneficial to the eyes, which works since I’ll be reading so much in the upcoming forever.  This exercise is done by sitting in a meditation pose and watching the flame of a candle or symbol. The goal is to steady the eyes and remained focus. By doing so , it blocks out all that is around you, and stimulates other internal senses and increases internal awareness.
    Tree Pose – The subconscious correlation between finding physical balance and mental balance is the strength in this pose. Aside from the fact that it’ll make my thighs look pretty good and get my back up to par, it can help improve focus and concentration as well as promotes calm.
    Triangle Pose – Helps with anxiety and mental stress, as well as improves mental equilibrium. It also stimulates the life force, which is all-around beneficial.
    Downward Facing Dog – Aside from the fact that you’re upside-down, thus promoting blood rushing to the brain (lots of oxygen!), it can be calming, and relieve depression, and can even get rid of a headache.
    Sun Salutation – This is a full on ritual of poses, opposed to just the one. But it’s the combination that gets to working every part of the self. It reduces tension, increases mental focus, reduces stress and anxiety, and increases the serotonin out put in the brain (that’s you’re happy chemical, the one your brain releases to make you feel happy).
  • Wii Fit
    I know, it sounds lame – but at the end of the day, it gets me off my ass, off the couch, and I can go “jogging” when it’s crappy outside. So, I have my own little Wii Fit routine all programmed, but on top of it I do the boxing (that Kills my shoulders and arms) and I hula-hoop for ten minutes on it (Gets the heart going and I can really feel it in my abs and back muscles). Plus I don’t have to buy a scale because it weighs me for me….which I kinda wish it didn’t do…
  • Walking
    I used to walk everywhere before I met my boyfriend, who had a truck…then laziness set in. Now I live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farm land and a high way. I’m allergic to the cold, so I don’t venture out for walks like I used to (you know, when I had to get somewhere). But going for walks can be a good way to just think, reconnect with nature, get the fresh air my m\poor lungs deserve, as well as stimulate the mind and get me some good exercise. It’s easy and there’s a beach just a mile away that I have yet to take advantage of.

Eating Well
As someone that studied nutrition, I eat pretty healthy. I’m very aware that food is medicine just as much as any pill the doctor gives you. However, do I eat the right brain foods?

  • Omegas
    I’m a vegetarian – well, pescatarian. And the only reason I haven’t given up fish yet is because I want those Omegas! They’ve been pretty good to my knees, which give me problems from time to times (laments of a retired swimmer). However, the omegas are extremely good for brain health. They’re often found in what are called the “good fats”, such as fish oil, flax seeds, avocado, and hemp seeds. As a rule, I generally throw in a pretty hefty portion of hemp seeds into whatever I’m cooking, and cook with coconut oil. While I’m not the biggest fan of avocado, but I’m learning to like it.
  • Whole Grains
    I am a huge advocate of making the swap the whole grain category. One of the keys to health is a healthy colon, and white grains and white flower products are pretty antagonistic in that department. Whole grains provide fiber, which is is great to prevent a toxic colon. Whole grains also provide another thing: Energy. Energy for the body and energy for the brain. This will help the brain be focused.
  • Blue Berries
    I fall short of consuming these regularly, but they need to be a part of my routine! These are great for supporting short term memory, and for one reason or another…well, it could do with some help 😉
  • B Complex
    I am horrendous at remembering to take supplements. I don’t like doing it, and I just can’t remember to do it (I’m sure there’s some irony somewhere in there…). But if I want to keep my brain limber, there’s some foods I need to include in order to make sure I’m getting what I need:
    Chia Seeds
    Nutritional Yeast (Actually, I put that on everything)
    Green Vegetables
  • Zinc – This is what will help with the know…the um…the thing – memory! That one. Pumpkin Seeds are a good source.

Some other random exercises I came across a person can casually do to increase the stretchiness of the think muscle are:

  • Wear your watch upside-down
  • Memorize Phone Numbers (remember back in the day when we had to do that?)
  • Keep a mental tally of the cost of your groceries as you shop
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Daily Journaling
  • Put down the TV remote. Hit the off button. Unplug the television. Repeat with Netflix, Youtube, and Hulu on your computer

Well, there’s my goal for the rest of my life. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a genius (…couldn’t figure out how to spell “genius”…) if I put all these things into motion. The basic key is to challenge yourself every day, make sure your brain is working out. Remember, your brain is you. If it gets sluggish, you get sluggish.

How do you keep your mind going?


Back-up Information
10 Big Brain Benefits of Playing Chess
Chess as Mental Training
7 Surprising Health Benefits from Playing Chess
The Benefits of Playing Chess for Both Children and Adults
Yoga Poses That Focus On The Brain
Five Yoga Poses to Boost Your Brain Power
9 Yoga Poses That Will Make You Smarter
Brain Food
10 foods to Boost your brain Power
The Brain


One thought on “Brain Yoga for the Hardened Head

  1. Pingback: Six Ways To Prepare the Returning Student | Scribing English

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