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Science Shows How Crossing Your Arms And Legs Can Hugely Change Your Brain

Science Shows How Crossing Your Arms And Legs Can Hugely Change Your Brain

The human brain is fascinating and mysterious. It rules our very existence.

We can participate in a number of actions and activities to enhance our brain function, which influences our health and wellbeing — physically, emotionally, and mentally. These days, there are a number of brain-training methods to promote mental fitness. Lumosity is one of the best and most well-known programs. But, did you know that the simple act of crossing your arms and legs can have actual health benefits and change how your brain functions?

We know a fair bit about how the human brain works and how it governs our bodies, emotions, and our psychology. There is still so much that we have yet to learn. It was once thought that we only used 10% of our brain function because it is made up of 10% nerve cells called neurons, which direct our behaviors and thoughts. However, recent research has shown that glial cells, which make up around 90% of our brains, have a lot more influence on our neurons than previously thought. So, in actual fact, we do use more than 10% of our brains.

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We also know that the brain is divided into two hemispheres — the right brain and the left brain. The right brain is associated with emotion and creativity and governs the left side of the body. The left brain focuses more on logic and details and controls the right side of the body. Down the center runs the mid line of the central nervous system, or CNS.

”Research has found that when you move your extremities across this mid line, the opposite-sided brain will start to help regulate its movement, meaning both brain hemispheres are now activated and functioning simultaneously,” says Seth M., who wrote on the subject for ExpandedConsciousness.com.

The ambidexterity achieved while crossing your arms and legs can cause your brain to function optimally. It can dramatically reduce stress and help you to learn and cognate more clearly because it synchronizes both hemispheres of the brain and both sides of the body simultaneously.

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“Bringing both hemispheres in sync with one another allows you to achieve a sort of ‘super learning’ state of being where you are able to think with both logic and emotion.”

Humans are creatures of habit

We get accustomed to doing the same things over and over again. We live our daily lives doing repetitive rituals and we don’t challenge our brains to function in new and different ways very often. This is why it was thought that we use only 10% of our brains — because that is all it takes to fall into a comfortable pattern of behavior and thought, which is what humans tend to do.

Inviting ourselves to use our brains in ways that we aren’t used to can fire up neurons and their pathways that we don’t use often and can change our habits. This, in turn, can have psychological and physiological benefits. This is why people engage in activities like painting, writing, cooking, running, rock climbing, and yoga. These activities teach us to see the world differently. They force us to think outside of our habits.

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The ancient art of yoga has gained popularity in modern times

Yoga involves doing both simple and challenging physical postures called asanas that require flexibility, balance, and focus. It also entails mindfulness and concentration to achieve these postures and keep you in the present moment. It relies on the regulation of breathing to reduce the mind and body’s natural stress response to difficult stimuli. The interaction between your mind, body, and breath can have profound impacts on your health and well being.

“The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways. For example, if you’re stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking. Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts. Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases. Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking,” says neuroscientist Alex Korb.

The Eagle Pose, or Garudasana, is a perfect example of a pose that crosses the CNS. It can have excellent effects on the body and mind. It requires a fair bit of balance, focus, and flexibility and involves crossing your arms and legs — first to the right side, then the left and balancing on one foot. This pose can take a bit of practice.

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garudasana

    Keep it simple

    Crossing your arms and legs the ordinary way can have just as many health benefits as doing it in the opposite way to what you are used to. This means both in terms of increasing your ambidexterity and brain function. You don’t have to be a yoga master to do that.

    So remember, next time you are bored in a meeting or waiting for a bus, start crossing your arms and legs and know that you are doing something positive for your health. Just make sure your facial expression is serene and not impatient to avoid giving the wrong message — both to others and to your brain.

    Featured photo credit: wavebreakmedia via shutterstock.com

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    Diane Koopman

    Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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