The Mind Body Connection

Published on 13th December 2020


In anatomy and physiology and in medicine in general, the mind-body connection is never given enough consideration for my liking.

That there is a connection is irrefutable. Thinks of getting butterflies when you are nervous, blushing when embarrassed, salivating when you go past a bakery…

In people who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, their neurological wiring is altered by the stress they have encountered which prevents them from being rational, reasoned and regulated if they have a reminder of the stress or a flash back. The will see things, feel things, hear things, their mind and body giving them a serious message.

Bessel Van de Kolk in his book, "The Body Keeps The Score" Mind, Brain and Body In The Transformation of Trauma" advocates yoga to help treat trauma. In fact movement is vital for brain function and development. 

Movement will:

  1. Improves myelination of nerve cells which insulates the nerve and improves its conductivity
  2. Increases branching of dendrites and increases connections between parts of the brain
  3. Stimulates the creation of neurons
  4. Brings oxygen to the brain
  5. Balance between the excitability of the cerebellum and inhibiting effect of the basal ganglia
  6. Gets different areas of the brain working together more effectively
  7. Helps ensure the brain parts perform their function properly

If people do not experience the rhythmic movements of infancy their neurological development may be impeded which can cause them to;

  1. Be under or over responsive/reactive to sensory input (sounds, smells, tastes, other people)
  2. Struggle with reading and writing, concentration and behaving at school
  3. Have issues with physical activities such as riding a bike, swimming or climbing.
  4. Struggle to cross the midline. An imaginary line down the centre of the body
  5. find it difficult to regulate their emotions, process information and interact with others appropriately

We are all born with primitive reflexes that are usually integrated within the first year or so of life as they no longer serve us. Think of infant reflexes such as sucking and rooting and the plantar grasp where the toes curl when the foot is stroked.  Two reflexes prevalent in our children are the moro (startle) and fear paralysis reflex which if not integrated are believed to contribute to learning challenges, behavioural challenges, anxiety, emotional imbalances and overwhelm*. These reflexes are closely related to our stress response. The moro is linked to the fight and flight part of the response  by the sympathetic nervous system and the fear paralysis to the freeze. By repeating simple movements usually done in infancy through the guidance of a Rhythmic Movement Consultant** these reflexes can be integrated and our children more regulated.

A very simple yet unbelievably powerful first step is to make sure children know how to crawl. “Proper” crawling is done contralateral i.e. diagonally across the body- left leg + right arm.

So many children who are carried around in car seats and not left on the floor, miss this vital piece of neuro-development. They bottom shuffle or crawl homolaterally (same side arm and leg).

Whilst this is not part of the syllabus for the anatomy. physiology and pathology course, it is fascinating! 

Happy studies! 


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