I was watching one of those improve-yourself videos. This one was about how to sharpen your mind. I was not surprised to see that all the tricks presented employed the hands in games or exercises. This may come as a surprise to many. But yoga has been saying this long ago, with the emphasis it laid on the mudras or hand gestures. If you examine classical style of dances of ancient communities there will also be more emphasis on the hands, to tell a tale through that art form. The emphasis on the legs alone seems to be later expression of dance.
Do you recall the games you played as a kid, where hands were used skilfully? Wooden tops, with stones, strings? Some games we made up on our own, but they all employed dextrous finger movements. Some of these games did not even have a goal, but were fun in themselves. Nowadays most kids are fevikwiked to smart devices, and the only movement their fingers experience is on their keyboards. We can say the same about ourselves.
But hands need skill, challenges, exercises, for your brain to sharpen. You may wonder at that. But if you know a bit of biology, this is simple to decode. There is a brain map (there are several, but the most common one dealing with movement) which is referred as the homunculus man. This is the representation of your body parts in your brain. And it looks like a grotesque little dwarf – a large mouth, large eyes, big head, short trunk, skinny legs, and then, huge giant hands that are so big they drag the small creature to the ground. The representation explains the space each of these body parts have in your brain. And in this, your hands have the largest space. And of these, your thumbs.
If you look back at evolution, you can understand that humans, with no great skills or powers, started to dominate other species simply by becoming dextrous with their hands. The brain evolved to accommodate this shift in skills and cerebral power. So, this explains how your hands and brain have an evolutionary relationship.
So, though everybody works out different parts of their bodies, fuss over their faces, spend a lot on looking good, the only pampering our hands get would be an expensive manicure. Clearly the hands need more attention, in terms of exclusive exercises. If you have read the various books on how to think like Leonardo Da Vinci, who is acknowledged, as one of the most abundantly creative genius (from art, to science, to creating prototypes, he has straddled several fields), was deliberately ambidextrous, in order to keep to engage both brain hemispheres and not be dominated by one, as most of us are.
- What you can do:
Power ball: is a wonderful work out for the hands, and is now available online as well. It not only needs firm grip, but also strengthens the entire arm.
- Go back to playing games that challenge your hand. The stress balls, that you find in south east Asian countries, are ancient games that understood this connection. Moving them in circles not only activates and balances acupressure points in your palms but also create a meditative relaxation since it needs skill to be able do that smoothly.
- The smiley rubber stress ball, which you can keep on your desktop, or workspace, is another way to work your hands.
- Games that need grip strength and focus, like hula hoop, dart games are other ways to enhance the brain-hand link, and sharpen your brain.
- Try to use your less dominant hand for ordinary daily functions (eg. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, opening the door).