Balance, perturbations, and neuroplasticity….

A lot of people are concerned about losing their balance and have a fear of falling. So, what can we do to  improve our balance? Let’s start with some basic exercises in standing. 1) Single leg standing: Stand in front of a counter top or other stable surface. Gently place your hands on the counter top for safety. Lift one foot off of the floor so you are standing on one leg. Don’t rest the lifted leg on the standing leg, just let hang relaxed in the air. You can lift your hands off of the counter, but it’s there if you need it to steady yourself. See if you can balance on one leg for 30-60 seconds.You may feel your ankle or hip wobble a bit, but that’s fine….you are actually training the nerve endings (proprioceptors) in your feet, ankles, knees and hips how...

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From fear of falling to fearless falling.

    Most of us are afraid of falling, especially as we get older. Why is that? Of course, we don’t want to get hurt, and many of us either know someone or have heard of someone falling and experiencing long term injuries. But it doesn’t have to be that way.     As babies and small children, we lived, played and crawled on the floor. As we grew, we continued to frequently get down on the floor. The occasional spills we experienced were no big deal, and we would bounce back up and be off on our next adventure. But as adults, we keep ourselves upright. We stand, walk, sit in chairs and lose our intimate relationship with the ground. As a result, we develop a fear and distrust of the ground, of our ability to fall safely (yes, there is such a thing) and gracefully get back up.    ...

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Sense of smell. How neuroplasticity saved the day.

A few weeks ago I was hiking in the mountains with my husband. I was in  a terrible mood. I was irritable, sad, depressed and feeling sorry for myself. It was Father’s Day, and the first Father’s Day without my Dad. This was only 6 short weeks after going through the first Mother’s Day without my Mom. Trying to hide my bad mood, I did what I do best….I put my head down and stubbornly forged ahead, placing one foot in front of the other and forced myself up the mountain, oblivious to the spectacular scenery around me. After about an hour we stopped to rest. The wind shifted, and  I caught the indescribable fragrance of clean mountain air, pine trees, melting snow and damp earth. As I stood there soaking in that incredible smell, my mood immediately began to shift....

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So….why Pilates and how can it help you?

      Have you ever wondered what Pilates can do for you? Here are a few examples: 1) The Pilates reformer provides a supportive environment which is very important for people who are recovering from injury, surgery, trauma, or are deconditioned (out of shape). Springs provide resistance (instead of weights) which more accurately simulates natural muscle activity. The springs also provide assistance for you in the early stages of physical rehabilitation.     2) The reformer provides immediate feedback to the client in a partial weight bearing position to allow for postural corrections and healthy movement patterns to develop. Clients experience changes in their movement patterns in a stable environment, without trying to fight their habits in full weight bearing against gravity.     3)...

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Strong arms, soft shoulders.

Here is a wonderful exploration for finding the connection of your arms through your shoulders and spine. 1) Sit on the floor with your knees bent out to the sides and the soles of your feet facing (but not touching) each other. You may need to place a folded towel under your sit bones for comfort. Place your hands on the floor behind your pelvis and lean into your arms and hands. Play with the placement of your hands. Do you prefer your fingers pointing away from yourself? Towards yourself? Somewhere in between? Take a few minutes and very slowly explore where your arms and hands can be so you feel your arms can easily support you. Stop. Take your hands away from the floor and rest. 2) Return to sitting with your knees bent, soles of the feet facing each other and place your hands behind...

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It’s time….for the pelvic clock.

    Many of us have an unclear sense of awareness of our pelvis. As a result, we often don’t understand how to move from our strong foundation, our true base of support, our pelvis. Try this brief excerpt from a classic Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement(R) lesson. It will help you learn how to sense your pelvis, loosen your hip joints and free your low back. As always, move very slowly, thoughtfully, and pay close attention to the quality of your movement.     1) Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your feet comfortably apart. You may need to place a folded towel (not a pillow) under your head for comfort.    Imagine the face of a clock lying on top of your pelvis, with 6 o’clock at your pubic bone and 12 o’clock at your belly button. Slowly and...

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Expand your world with spinal flexibility.

    Many of us think of our spinal flexibility in terms of our ability to bend forward, backward, and sideways. What about rotation? Not only does rotation allow us to turn and look behind ourselves, but it plays an important role in healthy spine mechanics. Spinal rotation is also important for survival; we need to be able to turn to see who or what is behind us, to pull into traffic, to merge on a ski slope, etc. Unfortunately, we often don’t include rotation into our movement patterns. We also may have heard that “twisting” the spine is a bad thing and can cause injury. There is a difference between “twisting” and the gentle rotation that is necessary for a healthy spine. Here is a nice little exercise to open up the spine in healthy rotation.     1) Stand...

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Don’t worry….be happy!

    I recently found myself engaged in a conversation where I was suddenly and unexpectedly asked to name 3 things that made me happy.     This question was presented to me after I had just completed a 3 day Advanced Feldenkrais Training with Russell Delman, a highly respected Feldenkrais Trainer who presented his work “The Embodied Life”TM. His work incorporates deep personal introspection along with gentle self inquiry. Oooo, what perfect timing! I took the question very seriously and slowly began to consider my response, giving it the thoughtful consideration it deserved, accepting the question on a deep philosophical level. After all, what is happiness? What does it mean, “to be happy”? Does it come from an external source, or from somewhere deep within ourselves?     My...

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The sounds of silence….

    Do you ever feel overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, unable to concentrate, anxious and/or upset for “no apparent reason”? The chances are your brain may just be overstimulated from the never ending onslaught of information it recieves from TV, radio, cell phones, computers, texts, work, traffic, family responsibilites and just plain life in general.     Give yourself a true rest by turning off all of the electronic devices, and find a quiet place where you can be alone even just for a few minutes. I believe that sitting outdoors is the most restorative. Sit quietly for a few minutes and notice how your sit bones contact your sitting surface. Slowly  move your attention to your breathing….not to change it or “fix” it, or worry about if you are doing it the...

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Supported sitting….rest your spine.

    Do you sit a lot at work? Do you drive a lot? Do you find yourself experiencing back pain or discomfort when you sit? Most chairs at work, home, school, restaurants, etc., are not made to adequately support your spine in sitting. If you do sit for extended periods of time, your spine could use a rest. So, how do you do this? Try some of the following tips.     1) Always have your  feet flat on the floor in front of you. Resting on your toes with your heels off of the floor or putting your feet behind your knees puts unnecessary stress and strain on your spine.     2) Make sure that your knees are at a 90 degree angle to your hips. If your knees are above the level of your hips, it places your back in a flexed or rounded position. If your knees are below the angle of your hips, it places...

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