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Warm up with Brain Dance

Brain Dance is a simple routine designed to integrate and strengthen the brain-body connection. Originally created by Anne Green Gilbert, Brain Dance draws on the natural movements we make in the first 12 months of life. These movements help “wire” the brain for a healthy nervous system and foster a sense of wholeness. 

Repeating these movements regularly with Brain Dance can help keep both brain and body strong. It can also round out gaps in our neurological development that may be due to childhood trauma. 

While Brain Dance focuses on eight core patterns of movement (learn more about these below), the dance itself can take many styles and forms. You can google “Brain Dance” to find one you like or start with the one below.

Try this Brain Dance

Elements of Brain Dance


Take a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Why? Breath brings oxygen to the brain and awareness to the body.


Squeeze, tap, brush, or pat all surfaces of your body. Arms and legs, torso, back and head.
Why? Touch activates the sensory-motor system and is an important element in bonding.


Curl up into a ball and then reach out wide, then repeat the process.
Why? This pattern helps develop a sense of self, and activates core awareness and body alignment. 


Move your head and “tail” in opposite directions. Side to side, front and back. Give the spine a little shake.
Why? These movements increase flexibility of the spine and efficiency of the central nervous system.


Keep your feet in place and move your upper body and arms. Then reverse and hold your upper body still as you move your legs.
Why? These patterns help ground us emotionally while developing the ability to draw and recognize boundaries.


Keep one side of your body still and move the other, then repeat the other side. Move your eyes from side to side.
Why? These movements improve balance and can help us learn how to weigh choices.


This time, move opposite parts together – for instance, left elbow to right knee and right elbow to left knee.
Why? Cross-body movements help integrate both sides of the brain and create pathways for complex thinking.


Do something that makes you feel off-balance or dizzy. Swing and spin, then come back to stillness and take a few breaths to ground yourself.
Why? This movement develops spatial awareness, balance, coordination, and integration of the five senses.