How twists can increase mobility
With many exercise habits focussed on movements forward and back, our natural ability to rotate around the central axis can be overlooked. Yet twisting motions are a key part of our movement and how our central body connects to the periphery, torso to limbs. Twists are not simply isolated turns of the spine, but are dependent on the entire story of the breath and the body. Incorporating different twisting motions in varying planes and to changing relationships with the limbs and ground, helps us to feel that in all movement, the whole body is involved.
Within Thomas Myers’ myofascial meridians system, Anatomy Trains®, the Spiral Lines of our connection tissue in the torso cross over at the front just above the navel. These allow us to twist and express rather than be shut down and hardened around the waist. They cross over at this midpoint, our mechanical line of function between the top and bottom body where forces move across and then...
The article was originally published on Healthista.
Your belly isn’t just that place where the food goes and we can stress about its appearance, it’s actually at the centre of all body systems and its health can influence how we feel and react. Looking after your core can have fantastic repercussions and improve quality of life on many levels.
It’s all going on down there
There is a massive and independent ‘second brain’ running the whole route of your digestive tract – from mouth to anus – called the enteric nervous system. This has about 100 million cells, one thousandth as many as neurons (nerve cells) found in the human brain and around the same as a cat’s brain! This brain is capable of ’thinking‘, ’remembering‘ and ’learning‘, so whilst it isn’t able to make cognitive thoughts, it is how we sense how we intuitively feel about a situation, environment and get ‘vibes’ from...
Our bodies have natural calming mechanisms, but we often run them at such high speeds that we lose the ability to plug into our natural braking systems. Some simple tips and dietary changes can provide an intervention when agitation takes over.
Self-soothing is the mechanism our bodies use to bring themselves back down to a calm place, after or even during a stressful event. This can mean finding the space to be able to decide the most compassionate and helpful reaction in a crisis or feeling all systems come back down after being completely revved up and reactive. When we’re in chronic stress and feeling life has become one big hyper-vigilant ‘constant alert’, we can feel we’ve lost this route back to settling down, releasing pent-up mind-body tension and finding the peace we need for recovery. Without healthy self-soothing abilities, living in a heightened state can be exhausting, lead to whole host of stress-related symptoms (anxiety, insomnia, IBS and...
Nutribullet, Vitamix, Magic Bullet or other blender smoothie mix ‘n’ match choices
There are many reasons I recommend a smoothie or blended drink to clients. Often this is simply to move them away from drinking loads of juice that discards the fibre present in vegetables and fruits; so important to slow down the release of their carbohydrates as simple sugars into the bloodstream. Having more bulk and less sugar also helps support good gut health, as too much juice can also contribute to an imbalance of gut bacteria and affect digestive, immune, hormonal, skin and mental health.
A smoothie is a great way to ensure more vegetables are included in our diets and acts as a great vessel for other goodies all in one delicious package. We can add in many things that we might want to take but prefer not to swallow in pill or capsule form.
Personally, I also find them a great way to use up some of those vegetables and fruit needing to be used up….
Our skin is the place where we both meet the world and show ourselves to it. How we are feeling and our level of vitality often shows up on our skin, with many of us using make-up to change or enhance this presentation. When we’re feeling tired or run down we can also feel more vulnerable and feel the need to hide what we might perceive as flaws with a little help – create the mask we want people to see. Looking after ourselves on a deeper level can help both how our skin looks and how we feel in relation to others around us.
The skin is the largest organ in the body, weighing on average 5kg. It is classified as an organ because it is made of layers of different tissue, which have different roles. Skin not only acts as container for the insides of the body, it acts as a barrier to infection and other substances. It also allows us to touch, plays an important role in temperature control, is a site of elimination and also produces vitamin D.
Lymph and blood vessels provide...
The term ‘grounding’ is often used in yoga classes and in relation to any activity that helps to draw us into a sense of the present moment.
But what does grounding actually mean? What qualities and physical attributes make grounding as important part of our practice?
To not be grounded in life at any moment is to feel that we're not really there. That includes a full physical sense that we are somehow off and away, that we are off in our heads, even “away with the fairies”!
This removal from a sense of where we are at that moment, can even move into feelings of dissociation where can experience a complete disconnect from mind and body.
This state has been associated with the ‘out of body’ experiences sometimes viewed as a spiritual high, but often has its roots in trauma.
In yoga, opening into the higher echelons relies on solid roots; fostering grounding through the lower chakras (pelvis and belly) to meet the subtleties of the higher chakras up...
Supporting our bodies through challenging times
We all have those bodily signs that seem to pop up when life’s challenges build to a crescendo. Although these can seem pretty benign, it’s good to watch the signals and be able to respond to them with dietary solutions. Periods of stress use up most nutrients more quickly as our whole systems – eg. energy, brain responses, hormones, immunity – are all working at a higher and faster rate. So some symptoms associated with different vitamin or mineral deficiencies can show up and alert us to possible deeper long-term effects of chronic stress. The food sources shown can help replace used nutrients, but also reducing sugar and stress means our diets are naturally more nutrient dense and we spare our resources.
B vitamins and Minerals
Firstly, let’s look at the B vitamins and minerals that we use up quickly in the stress response to make the energy, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters we need for that...
Dr Stuart Brown, researcher and founder of The National Institute for Play, has identified eight “play personalities” that can help you find out what kinds of play work best for you:
The Collector: You enjoy building collections, such as collecting stamps or vintage cars.
The Competitor: You enjoy playing (and winning) games with specific rules, like playing for a neighbourhood soccer league.
The Creator or Artist: You find joy in making things, or making things work. You might enjoy doodling, woodworking, decorating, fixing machinery, or sewing.
The Director: You enjoy planning and directing, like hosting themed birthday parties.
The Explorer: You play by discovering something new, either physically (a new place) or mentally. You might play by going on a vacation to a new place or discovering a new type of music.
The Joker: You enjoy being silly and foolish. You might enjoy improv theatre or simply making your friends laugh.
The Kinesthete: You enjoy moving your body as...
The movement practices that accompany this Reconnecting with Playfulness series have a playful attitude…. Not insisting that you move or experience in ‘right’ ways, but rather from a deeper sense of connection. Listening to your body tissues, rather than simply placing them into instructed places. Yes, this within a framework of instruction and suggestion, but there is explicit permission to listen inwardly and respond how feels right for you.
A framework can be helpful to begin this process so we can derive some sense of safety from containment and a place to begin. From there, we can cultivate curiosity about a relationship with ‘less is more’. This is where these practices can be an important foundation for any other stronger bodywork we do. Whether a more dynamic yoga practice, running or gym work, when we need to move into stronger postures or movement, strength that is sustainable and doesn’t injure needs the capacity for us to relax,...
Play as children is how we learn about relationships, literally play out scenarios and develop our physicality and how our inner feelings relate to the outside world. Sadly, much of these experiential and symbolic expression is inhibited as we get older, as we are conditioned to become more ‘civilised’.
Whilst play can involve spontaneity, expression of larger movements, gestures and emotions, not to mention all manner of noise that can accompany, most adult reactions and responds no longer do. Those adults who express more may be labelled “too emotional”, noisy, childish… all judgments that are rooted in messages that we should be behaving as adults; whatever that construct means!
Similarly though, in our extroverted culture, there can also be an expectation to be fun or credit given for being the ‘life of the party.’ It is not everyone’s natural setting to shout, hold animated public conversations or be the first on the dance...
There are different ways in which we can reintroduce a sense of playfulness into our lives. Whether this is getting back to playing games we love, moving a little more within life or simply shrugging off some of our hardened edges, shaking up the well-trodden paths of daily life can feel liberating and joyful – two qualities that help us cope with the brambles we inevitably have to navigate, with equanimity and calm. Here are some ways you can notice your body-mind ready to unlock its playful side…..
1: Play as Gestures through the Hands
Our hands are our most important tool, with more connections between brain and hands than any other body part. How we use our hands shapes how we work, express and play and for many, tension in the fingers and wrists from constant contact with technology feeds directly into rigidity in the jaw, diaphragm and belly.
Our hands may reach for the physical connection that we feel as deep safety in the belly, or hold back from doing so; from...
We are built to move, but when the motivation comes from fitness or health, rather than as a bi-product of basic survival (procuring food, building shelters, keeping warm, defending territory etc) or celebration (dancing, ritual etc) it can be more challenging to get going on our own. We evolved in tribes and our physicality and psyche move between self-regulation and co-regulation – how we adapt on our own and how we do that in relation to others; we need both and they feed into one another.
The importance of relation
The social engagement system of mammals is often called the ventral vagal complex (the front or ventral aspect of the vagus nerve) and humans have more than others. It helps us to produce oxytocin (the ‘love molecule’) and experience bonding, safety, creativity, happiness and joy. Our ‘vagal tone’ or ability to drop into social states with easy breath, an open mind, tolerance of others, creativity, playfulness and wonder is also a...