Hi there Youthful Yogis!
I have something amazing to share with you today! It's not inside information on how to win the lottery...
It's not a four page letter to your mom about the benefits of serving chocolate for dinner....
It is some super incredible, totally awesome information about your brain!!
I know, the brain is a little creepy when you actually take a good look at it. You'll notice from the picture that our brains are made out of soft tissue. An average human brain weighs about three pounds; it is 75% water and--if you can believe a few of the sources I found--it has 100,000 miles of blood vessels!
Something that makes the brain look funny are all of its ripples, which it turns out are actually folds in the tissue. Did you ever notice how you can fit more clothing into a suitcase when each piece of clothing is carefully folded?
|"To fold or not to fold...that is the question!"
Well, the same is true for the brain. Brain tissue "
So, we have all this this creepy soft tissue folded up in our heads (please don't tell your science teacher I called the brain creepy!)...what protects the soft tissue, you might ask?
Our friend Tintin up there might end up with a headache after getting walloped by a bad guy, but his brain is probably safe thanks to something called the skull.
Here is a picture of a real human skull:
The part of the skull that encloses and protects the brain is called the cranium...not to be confused with a really fun board game of the same name:
Now it's time for me to tell you a little something about the workings of the brain....
I'm not sure who that guy is!...Anyway, the brain is made up of nerve cells called neurons. There are about 100 billion neurons in a human brain!!! Any thought you have or action you take involves information being passed from one neuron to another. Here is what a neuron looks like:
One end is called the dendrite and the other end is called the axon. Of course, you would need a special microscope to actually see neurons in such detail.
Something else you need to know is that neurons don't touch! In order for messages to pass from one cell to another, signals have to cross a tiny gap called a synapse:
Luckily for anyone who wants to move or think or even breath, special chemicals are released that allow messages to be passed across synapses from the axon of one cell to the dendrite of another. The route this information travels is called a synaptic pathway.
|There are trillions of synaptic pathways in our brains!
When signals are being sent through brain cells in this fashion, we say our "synapses are firing"! I found a video online of what it might look like inside our brains when the synapses are "firing". This is really the coolest thing ever! Make sure it's OK to go on YouTube, then click on the words in the picture below and check it out!
Here is one more thing I want you to know about the brain, Youthful Yogis: when you do things everyday, like brushing your teeth, walking your dog or asking your mom for a little extra allowance...
|Not happening, Dude...
...strong pathways get created in your brain. The trick, especially as people get older, is to continue to create new pathways.
How in the world do we create new synaptic pathways, you might ask? What a great question! After some serious research, I've come up with some answers. Here we go...
The Official Youthful Yogis List of Activities to Build and Strengthen Synaptic Pathways:
1) Practice yoga!
2) Include exercise of any sort into your daily schedule:
|"It's all about the brain...!"
3) Eat a healthy diet:
4) Get plenty of sleep!
|"I call this my happy place...!"
5) Play games!
6) Learn a foreign language!
7) Play music!
|Try brushing your teeth with the "wrong" hand, for example.
And, as if all of this is not enough, here is one more thing you can do for your brain...
Studies have shown that laughter releases chemicals that can help to keep us healthy...and that's no laughing matter.
|"To me, everything is a laughing matter!"
If you want a little more laughter in your life, why not check out something called Laughter Yoga...it really exists! Click on the link below to see a YouTube video of some folks enjoying Laughter Yoga...it'll crack you up! (Remember to check with an adult to make sure it's OK to go to YouTube!)
It's been lots of fun discussing the brain with you today, Youthful Yogis. There's lots to think about...
|"I was born to think!"
And the good news is that all this thinking will fire up our synapses!
I hope you've enjoyed what we've covered today...I'll definitely be talking more about the brain in the future. Meanwhile, why not do some research on your own? There are tons of articles about the brain in books and online...drop me an email if you find something interesting!
Have a great day, Youthful Yogis. And remember to strengthen your brain by trying something new!
I'll see you again soon,