physical therapy

Mastering Ourselves: Smart Somatic Solutions

Attuning our senses to empower mastery in our everyday movement is our birthright. But somehow finding ease in getting up out of a chair, or finding quiet postures such as standing or sitting can be overlooked as ways we can find true grace with gravity.

 

I was recently reminded of what called me to teach in the field of movement. Helping others was so foundational to the core of how I was raised, so the field of physical therapy seemed to be the obvious place to start. My husband thinks I’m an enigma because I’m still passionate about my work. He also reminds me that not every conversation with others needs to be a discussion on becoming more aware of their movement.

 

So when I was introduced to foam rollers in my Feldenkrais training, I became excited on how these tools could help create the right conditions for learning through movement.  We applied this experiential learning which is  similar to how we learned as children to feel the freedom to move and sense ourselves in our environment. This playful learning allows us to foster our most innate intelligence to solve and evolve our movement and embodied skills. As adults, we need to be reminded of this. We become distracted with what we think we should do vs. what we feel we should do. This happens partly because our felt sense has been diminished through the lack of creative self guided movement. There also is a lack of trusting ourselves, and feeling the need to ask others to direct us to move correctly. 

You have to do this as if you wanted to waste your time, but waste your time efficiently

-Moshe Feldenkrais

 

Here is an example of my most recent experience with this…

A dear friend, Susan Dopart, a highly respected international Motivational Interview teacher offered this story as she was teaching Life Style Solutions

She witnessed one of her students was experiencing back pain from his long commute to her workshop. She offered to him her Smartroller® to see if this could ease his discomfort. As she describes it, she just told him to get on the Smartroller without telling him what to do. He not only trusted his own sense of curiosity to play with movement, but he later says, “2 minutes on the Smartroller was like an hour of Yoga.” He was also observed to move more comfortably the rest of the day. 

 

True mastery :-)

Join me as we explore further with smart somatic solutions at the FGNA 2018 Conference. 

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2 minutes on the Smartroller is better than 1 hour of Yoga” Maynard Hearns

MOVING LIKE A CAT

We've recently expanded our family by adopting a beautiful kitten, JiJi. Watching JiJi brings us such pleasure, especially when she's in the midst of play. She moves with such grace and ease. It's fascinating to watch how she prepares her posture to get ready to spring into action. Most of us have done a cat exercise in Physical Therapy, Yoga, Pilates or a fitness class. We are looking for ways to align with this cat-like motion. Mary Bowen, distinguished Pilates Elder says, "Everything is right about it (the cat). It's strong when it needs to be. It's loose. It rests when it needs to. And, it's always sort of semi-aware, too, without having to jump in..."

Everything is right about it (the cat). It’s strong when it needs to be. It’s loose. It rests when it needs to. And, it’s always sort of semi-aware, too, without having to jump in...” Mary Bowen, Master Pilates Elder

Like Joseph Pilates, Dr. Feldenkrais was fascinated with studying primal movements from babies, to animals, to athletes. The Feldenkrais Method® is a way of developing awareness to our whole body to discover our hidden areas which complete our cortical maps. Think of this as updating your body's navigating software. A mastery that requires your muscle of attention. "We're interested in where the quality is optimal, not where the quality diminishes." Mark Reese, Ph.D,  Feldenkrais Master Trainer

We’re interested in where the quality is optimal, not where the quality diminishes.”
Mark Reese, Ph.D, Feldenkrais® Master Trainer

The following recording is a movement lesson inspired by the Feldenkrais Method and excerpted from The Smartroller Guide to Optimal Movement.  Since Feldenkrais lessons are for learning, they work best when you follow some easy guidelines: (if new to Feldenkrais, go here

  1. Move slowly and edit the size of your movements to allow for tension-free movement
  2. Notice your breath to see if you are doing the lesson with ease-the quality of your breath will tell you
  3. Take rests and avoid pain to maximize results to help make long term improvements 
  4. Delay stretching if you can-when you stretch, you often clamp down on the spine by pushing into the tissues you already notice. By editing your movement you can shift to a more even distribution to elongate the spine
  5. Use the imagery suggested, i.e. like editing the movements in the shape of sleepy cat eyes 
  6. Have a beginner's mind by attending to the novelty of the subtle movements 

In order to improve your body's movement sense, you need to turn down the visual sense. Browse the picture gallery below to get some sense of the directions before you proceed so you won't need to look at them during the lesson. Please follow the directions as only suggestions. You will have your own handwriting, your own pace and comfort. Let curiosity be your guide. 

When you are ready, find a quiet place on the floor, grab your mat, Smartroller®, and a rolled up towel to attend to yourself for the next 15 minutes. See if you are more feline with your movements once you are done.   

...the best most fluid cat/cow I’ve ever felt afterwards! I have never used a roller prone like that. It was so soothing and calming for my nervous system. TRINA ALTMAN, PMA®-CPT, E-RYT 500

REFERENCES: 

Altman, Trina: http://trinaaltman.com/

Bowen, Mary- interview: http://www.pilateslessons.org/pilates-elder.html

Reese, Mark 1994 Feldenkrais Training LA: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/markreese

Todd, Mabel: Ideokinesis-http://www.ideokinesis.com/pioneers/todd/todd.htm

 

SMART INTENTIONS by Daniel Barrows

DANIEL  in Bali

DANIEL  in Bali

 

        Each New Year resolutions are made and many are broken. I think that a lot of people would agree when I say, whether it’s the new year or mid year, it's difficult to maintain a sense of momentum and forward progression. Why is it so much of an uphill battle to maintain our intentions? To quote my movement teacher Edward Yu, “Why does trying harder sometimes become an exercise in futility? Why does following ‘expert advice’ often lead to little or no improvement?”

        Maybe some of it can be attributed to how our culture views motivation. A motive driven by a fear or lack seems to leave a depressing taste in the air. Even though there are glimpses of an open sky, something ends up derailing consistent progress. It’s probably because we have to live with a drill sergeant on our shoulder. I sure don’t want that guy hanging out all the time. I wanted to be excited about healing and exercise, the way I am excited about riding waves, hanging with friends or playing music. I wondered if it was too much to ask. Is it possible to combine playing and healing into a joyful anticipated event?

I wanted to be excited about healing and exercise, the way I am excited about riding waves, hanging with friends or playing music. I wondered if it was too much to ask. Is it possible to combine playing and healing into a joyful anticipated event?”

 

        Something curious happened since I posed these questions. I credit the Smartroller® for a large portion of this change because I started to love my time exploring movement. It happened when I made a dedication to feeling good as opposed to solely focusing on the outcome. There was room to breathe, and room to make mistakes. There was no self judgment, just following what felt good. The landscape of my body and how it moved became an amazing gift.

        Practice started simple. I told myself "only when I genuinely wanted to." Starting to let go of the familiar voice saying, “I should get on the Smartroller”. That was the same internal voice saying “I should work out.” I started giving credit to the voice that said no. Maybe he knew what he was saying. The more I jumped on it when my body wanted it, the more I wanted to be on it. Without any external motivation necessary, I was on the roller much more often. Now, many times a day, my family will find me on the Smartroller, not because my Physical Therapist/ Feldenkrais teacher told me to (happens to be my mother, Stacy, the inventor), but because I include it in my entertainment section of life. 

Slowly the images of what it’s supposed to look like, how it's supposed to feel, what I’m supposed to do, how long I’m supposed to practice... all fell away. What gave rise was an intelligence of good feeling, which began to guide proper alignment and equal distribution of effort without any textbooks or teachers. All the things I had been told about."

Slowly the images of what it’s supposed to look like, what it’s supposed to feel like, what I’m supposed to do, how long I’m supposed to practice... all fell away. What gave rise was an intelligence of good feeling, which began to guide proper alignment and equal distribution of effort without any textbooks or teachers. All the things I had been told about.”

       

Now, it wasn’t just the Smartroller that did this, but the way in which I approached my time with it. What my mind brought to the table was reflected in it’s outcomes. It’s true affect is seen throughout time. As canyons are carved by the flow of water, so does relaxed, joyous and continuous movements remold the body. Great difficulties are sometimes best dealt with by an accumulation of small actions. Enjoy it, that’s what it’s here for. And who knows, maybe other life changes are simultaneously under the surface."

Great difficulties are sometimes best dealt with by an accumulation of small actions. Enjoy it, that’s what it’s here for. And who knows, maybe other life changes are simultaneously under the surface.”