Tension Release with Music Provided!

A great way to approach this lovely exercise is to let go of any idea that you are seeking a big stretch. Instead, look to keep the pelvis stable (it helps to gently draw the bent knee in towards your body) and allow the lengthening leg to truly release.

Support your pelvis on your bolster, 1/2 dome or rolled up blanket. You may or may not want some head support too (Laura's using a 1/2 dome here, you could try a small pillow and see how you go). Bend both of your knees in towards your body and curl up into a ball.

Then wrap your arms around your left leg to help keep your pelvis stable (it will be in the tucked rather than the neutral or untucked position).

Gently straighten your right leg now, and slowly lower it towards the floor (it doesn't have to get there!). Relax the extended leg without bending the knee. The foot is a little flexed but the leg itself is not tense, you can even support it on a block. Spend around 30 seconds to a minute and then you could move the extended leg slowly from left to right in a windshield wiper for another 30 seconds or so.  Then bring both legs back into the chest, and ease them out in any way that feels good. Do the other side.


Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

  • Take a walk around your house (or the room you are in if you are hiding away from animals, children, etc)  and notice how that feels
  • Calf Stretch (see last weeks post for details)
  • Psoas Release- click here for a Psoas post (how about playing the track below by Yaima to help you relax)
  • Do your Hip Flexor Release as described above (do it twice if you have time)
  • Take a walk around again and notice how you feel.

So many of you have commented on this track that I've been playing in relaxation after classes. So here it is!

Why the Calf Stretch is Still your Best Friend!

Don't be bored by this little beauty. Ultimately it has the power to take the aches and pains out of your whole body and make all of your movements that much more powerful.

1. the first step towards optimal alignment

Changing how you stand is the quickest way to change how you move. This contributes to balance, bone density, pelvic floor health and so much more. The calf stretch is the perfect place to emphasise the key aspects of standing well - feet straight ahead, pelvis width apart and your weight back over your heels. At the same time you are releasing the tension in the back of your legs that impacts on how well you can move.

2. Modern ways of moving lead to shorter calves

Sitting in chairs and wearing restrictive shoes with heels (and most shoes do have a heel, even your running shoes) mean that our calves have been getting the message to get shorter since we were first shod. If you have worn shoes with heels for most of your life your calves may be 13% shorter than what might be optimal. Not only does this decrease your metabolism it tends to tip your forward as you walk. I often talk in class about not living over our toes any more, let's wake up our butts instead. Lengthening your calves is a key factor to this being possible. Tight calves also contribute to neck and shoulder tension too.

3. WHAT'S THAT NOW.... My tight calves are CREATING neck and shoulder TENSION?

Yes they are. They push your head forward as you walk with a rebound that travels all the way up from your feet. Instead of that wonderful feeling of a posterior push off (which is really only possible with some nice calf length in place) you are pretty much catching yourself from falling with every step. Walk around your living room and then do a couple of calf stretches on each side. Go for a walk again and see if you can feel even a subtle difference in your stride. Imagine if you did that regularly, and for those of you that do I know I'm preaching to the converted! In our next blog I'll give you another exercise to increase your capacity to wake up your butt when you walk from a whole other angle.

4.Are you bored with brushing your teeth?

Well even if you are you know the benefits outweigh any effort involved, so put your calf stretch into the same compartment -  you could even do it at the same time. Twice a day is an ideal minimum and If you are really ready for change - do it more because your body adapts to what you do most often. (Put it this way, do you sit in chairs? If yes then you need to calf stretch).  Right now as I type don't have a 1/2 dome handy so I'm using a book. It feels great. I hang out there until I feel everything ease off and relax - all the way up to my neck. Sometimes I might be there for a few minutes, sometimes 30 seconds. When in doubt, calf stretch anyway.

Before and After (the 1st photo is my current calf stretch, check out where my bottom ribs line up over my hips - pretty straight which is ideal. Then look down to the 2nd photo, which was taken a year ago. I discovered it randomly yesterday and was quite taken by the change. On reflection a lot of other things have improved too. I rarely get headaches now (largely related to less neck tension) and I'm much more comfortable in the shoulders too. I can feel my reflexive core more regularly and my glutes engage naturally when I walk. I know that a big part of that transition has been this gem of an exercise. If you haven't yet, give it a real chance for a few months. Your investment in time will have great returns.

And here it is in video format with a few different ways to calf stretch amongst many other things. Amazing what you can achieve in less than 10 minutes!

OVER TO YOU

Ian and Moyneen are on a wonderful adventure and have sent in some classic 'travelling with my 1/2 dome' images! This latest one may be the best yet. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday Ian and Maureen!

Is that a beverage I see balancing there Ian? That's one way to make sure you don't rib thrust!

Is that a beverage I see balancing there Ian? That's one way to make sure you don't rib thrust!

Reduced Timetable For Winter

With so many travellers away we won't have 6.30am or 8.00am Tuesday classes over winter. All other classes are running as normal. We'll re-instate early Tuesday classes in Term 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Movewell Flow!

One of the things we've had lots of requests for is filmed classes for those who can't get to us regularly, and even for regulars who would like to be able to repeat a session at home. The good news is they are coming, and yesterday we did a trial run.

This has got nothing to do with our filmed classes, but we went tree climbing on the weekend and it was great fun. There were zip lines and more. So next time we are taking you with us!

This has got nothing to do with our filmed classes, but we went tree climbing on the weekend and it was great fun. There were zip lines and more. So next time we are taking you with us!

The visuals turned out really well so I've made up some clips and posted them to the Youtube channel. There is no dialogue to go with them (who out there just went phew!?) - so they are really more relevant to the regulars than anyone else, but they will remind you what goes where when you are looking to create some Movewell Flow action at home. We did speed them up though so make sure you slow yours down.

Make like a ship and list already...

One thing I really try and get across in class is that everything we're doing is informing how we could be moving around in our daily lives. It's of huge benefit to work on you pelvic listing in class - this lateral hip strengthener is a pre-requisite movement for great walking and long life-long hip health! But it's not just for Christmas boys and girls! It's for every day. And if you want strong hips to become the new normal......stand on one leg and list whenever you can my friends. Make like a ship and list already.

But we've done lots of other things to strengthen your chassis and here is proof that they all translate into real life movement. Spare a thought for poor Ian, - you only have to put up with me in class! (Next week, we'll start real worlding the shoulders).

OVER TO YOU! (I love this one, way to go Sue!)

‘Imelda the Barefoot Senior Citz’

I am a strong believer that people come into your life for a reason. Enter Mel Parks. My naturopath referred me to Mel at KYO Hub Ocean Grove.

A 1:1 body evaluation highlighted my many years of ‘poor body movement’. Mel’s Move Well program has given me the knowledge and skills to integrate whole-body movement into my daily life.

The session on ‘feet’ was excellent, in particular how wearing heeled shoes affect your alignment. I’ve now sorted and cleared out my extensive shoe wardrobe including my ‘prized’ Italian boots!

From this self confessed Imelda my feet are now grounded and I walk taller than before. No Italian boots required.

With grateful thanks to Mel for your whole-body Move Well program Imelda is now transitioning to minimalist footwear.

Hmmmmmm, now how much minimalist footwear can this Imelda accumulate?

Sue M xx
Ian and Moyneen are ready to hit the road. Just in case you were worried fear not, they have packed their 1/2 dome and spikey ball and promise to send us lots of car-reversal roadside stretching photos on their big adventure. The early classes are very quiet without you guys!

Ian and Moyneen are ready to hit the road. Just in case you were worried fear not, they have packed their 1/2 dome and spikey ball and promise to send us lots of car-reversal roadside stretching photos on their big adventure. The early classes are very quiet without you guys!

Want a Faster Metabolism? Build Your Butt!

OK, that was a sneaky move, but I bet I got your attention. 

Your Metabolism does get a temporary boost when you exercise, but it's primarily defined by the metabolic activity of your muscle mass when you're resting. This is hugely affected by the actual length of your muscles. So when your muscles are tighter your metabolism is lower. Some of our tightest and most underused muscles are in the back of our legs.

Katy Bowman explains it like this: "If you want to have the correct amount of muscle mass for your skeletal mass, and to have that muscle stabilise all of your bones and joints and not be covered in a lot of body fat, you need to work on restoring the electrical channels of the muscle system (which is what alignment is, really), and then walk around a lot. I said a lot. The occasional tree climb is good too."

When we spend a lot of time living with our pelvis over toes our poor old knees and quads work overtime leaving our hamstrings and glutes neglected. They need some persistent luring out of their slumber, which has been our theme for the past few weeks. Here are just 2 things you could be doing every day:

  1. When you stand back up your hips, even 10% is making a big difference.
  2. Calf Stretch, Calf Stretch and when you have finished.......Calf Stretch (2 times a day 30 seconds to a minute each side, is a good goal - but 4 or 5 times is golden too)

But of course you could also do this! But only if you are rocking the latest in Paddington Bear jackets and bad hats....more butt action next week folks!

  • Feet forward, pelvis width ankles, weight back over heels (both legs straight with relaxed knees)
  • You could put your hand on the side of your pelvis on the working side to help you get that sense of gently pressing it down towards the ground. That's the action you want to allow the other leg to lift. 

YOUR CHALLENGE: How many times a day can you remind yourself to simply balance on one leg? Notice if your pelvis tends to twist on one side more than the other. Work on keeping those hip bone headlights straight ahead. What if you spent some more time on the less dominant side. Get to know your habits and own the power that you have to change them.

A New Name, A Big Trip, and More Movement Adventures

Thank you so much for filling in your feedback forms. We've already actioned some of your ideas and others are in train for development over the next few months. We'll be simplifying the booking process with a booking engine and we've even made our name clearer too. Look closely, we've really just shortened it to MoveWell. So much quicker to type in the search engine!

Holiday Classes
This school holidays we'll be offering classes on 2 Fridays. We will have a Body Restore Class - a good mix of tender loving care (if you call squats tender - which you know that I do when the occasion calls for it) for shoulders, core, hips, backs and feet. We are also planning an introduction session for those folk that want to give us a try without committing to a whole term. We are still in the planning stages so if you have any requests now is the time to let me know (including times, I'm up for 6.30am if you are!!). Both Mel and Nic will be teaching. We'll be at The Hub and the dates are:

  • Friday 30 June
  • Friday 7 July

Big Adventure
I've just put the dates for Term 3 on the website and you might notice that there is a little break right in the middle. That's because your team are heading to America to work with the Queen of Biomechanics herself, Katy Bowman MS. Think of all the good things we'll be bringing home with us. Yay!

Out In The Real World
The last week of classes has focused on how reducing foot tension can increase hip function and balance. There were many lightbulb moments along with happy exclamations of "I can feel my butt !". Single leg squats at 6.30 on a winters morning? You betcha! They were popular classes so more of that kind of fun coming soon (as in tomorrow!).

Here is some more real world reporting from Trish "I've had a great day, climbing olive trees and picking olives. When the elderly lady who owns the trees mentioned she used to climb to pick the olives I asked if she minded me doing that (she didn't). It was such fun, kind of exhilarating :-). I doubt I'd have been game if I hadn't been taking your & Nic's classes. So thank you!!!!"....now that is what I call functional movement.
I'm impressed, Graham took his 1/2 dome to Central Australia. Does that rock looks familiar to you?

I'm impressed, Graham took his 1/2 dome to Central Australia. Does that rock looks familiar to you?

I've just taken delivery of a limited number of Katy Bowman's new book "Dynamic Aging". It's $30.00 a copy, so let me know if you'd like one and I'll bring it to your next class. It's an inspirational gem. You can read more about it here.

I've just taken delivery of a limited number of Katy Bowman's new book "Dynamic Aging". It's $30.00 a copy, so let me know if you'd like one and I'll bring it to your next class. It's an inspirational gem. You can read more about it here.

Leaning in (and out)

I'm always suggesting (ever so subtley) that it's what you do all day that really counts in your ability to move pain free. Here Glen shows us one way to change your habit and feel the benefit. This active sit means Glen is exercising while she sews.

In Glen's own words...."Dog on couch, stitcher on floor....so much more comfy for all of us....and no backache!!"

In Glen's own words...."Dog on couch, stitcher on floor....so much more comfy for all of us....and no backache!!"

The last few weeks we've worked on how we use our arms and how this has a huge impact on the function and the feel of our neck and shoulders.

In a typical western home and workplace there is a lot less call for generous arm movements than you might think. We don't typically have to swing an axe to keep warm. We don't usually have to reach to pick food from a tree or pull ourselves up off the ground to escape predators. If you think about it most of our arm movements are in a pretty limited range. Arms out in front, internally rotated shoulders and the fingers curling forward. In class I often say:

The movements themselves are not the bad guys. It's the limited range of movements and the ones we tend to get locked in that can cause the friction that leads to pain and dysfunction.

This is just one of the many reasons taking ourselves back towards hanging and climbing can be so key to our upper body function. And it's not just about your neck and shoulders. Hanging from your hands and reaching above your head can provide a natural tension release to the fascia of your thoracic cavity. That's a fancy way of saying that raising your arms up (gently and as you are ready) can take a load of your heart and your lungs - amongst other things.

When you are ready to move into hanging upper body work you can grab me before or after class to do some gentle warm up work on our bars - or even better, Nic has 2 shoulder workshops coming up where this transition will be our focus. Click here to read more. Nic's partner Graeme shows us below how you can get some upper body love into your daily life in many different ways! That's putting your MET card to good use Graeme!

Please progress to hanging and preparation for hanging only when you are truly ready. There is no rush, and for myself there were many months of calf stretch to enjoy before the monkey bars tempted me!

Tell Us What You Want, What You Really Really Want!

With apologies to the Spice Girls we really do want to know. Over the next 12 months we will be introducing new classes - both times and themes and some wonderful new teachers too. We would love to hear from you as to what potential offerings might suit you best. The wonderful Catherine Barclay has put this survey together. You can pick up your copy in class or print it out here. Alternatively email or text me your ideas.

WE'LL NEED THIS BACK BY FRIDAY 12 MAY! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

WE'LL NEED THIS BACK BY FRIDAY 12 MAY! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

 

We are all about movement freedom out in the real world. We aim to demystify the joint and muscular pain so many of us suffer from and show you how to optimise the way you move. Knowledge is power and understanding what makes your body happy can really set you free. You'll get the best results if you take your new understanding out from the studio and into your life. Check out this real world mover below - I could swear she was pelvic listing at Melbourne Airport arrivals. Apparently she was stuck there for 1/2 hour and did more pelvic listing in a single session than ever before. She was shocked at how well she could move after that one reltively brief session. Waking up muscle when she could just as easily have been sitting in the cafe loading into her poor old lumbar spine. Sorry I didn't catch her name though ;-)

Ok it was me. I was frustrated, busting for my baby to get home from a big trip. So I needed to keep busy and had a squatting and pelvic listing festival. I almost missed Lucy coming through the gates as I was just so excited about how great my hips felt. Especially after 1.2 hour drive to the airport!

Ok it was me. I was frustrated, busting for my baby to get home from a big trip. So I needed to keep busy and had a squatting and pelvic listing festival. I almost missed Lucy coming through the gates as I was just so excited about how great my hips felt. Especially after 1.2 hour drive to the airport!

What The Squat?!

Leading on from last week's Blog about knees, there's a movement we tend to avoid that encourages a good range of motion in your ankles, knees and hips. It can also help to strengthen your glutes (excellent for taking a load off your knees). You guessed it, it's the squat - and it comes in all sorts of shapes and it's not one size fits all. If you give yourself time to open up the ranges of motion that will allow a full squat you might even enjoy the journey. 

In many instances our squat capacity tends to shrink to around the level of standard chair height (no prizes for guessing why!) We feel stiff and awkward when we do squat so we gradually find ourselves bending at the waist to pick things up - almost eliminating the squat completely. (Ever done a few hours of gardening and wondered why your back was sore the next day? Have a look at picture 1 below. It's really easy to get locked into this way of moving.)

Remember no movement is the 'bad guy', it's the way we limit our movements that can turn into painful problems and limited ranges of motion. In the remaining photos above look at the different ways I'm squatting. It's fine to turn your feet out just make sure you keep your knees lined up with the centre of your ankles, so not rolling out or in. You can also play with how wide your legs are and see if you can back your hips up - stirring those glutes into action. You don't have to come down to a particular level, always give your tissues time to adjust. And if you were to calf stretch 1 and calf stretch 2 first can you imagine how much easier this movement would be? Please never move into pain - just experiment with what it feels like to squat. .


Here's another way to practice your squat that's going to either Box A:  potentially inflame your knees, your lower back and weaken your ankles and even your pelvic floor or........ Box B: do great things for all of the above and enhance your Booty! Mmmmmm, which one to choose, which one to choose? Choose Box B people, choose Box B!

Box A: Knees way past ankles, pelvis tucked. Look closely and you can see the strain creeping up into the neck.

Box A: Knees way past ankles, pelvis tucked. Look closely and you can see the strain creeping up into the neck.

Knees in line with ankles, pelvis untucked, neck looks longer too right?! What's going on at the feet is travelling all the way on and up my friends! Imagine Nic was coming to sit down in a chair right now. She could even get up the same way. Did someone say "I could practice this out in the world at least 20 times a day easily!" I love you that person, I truly do! 

Knees in line with ankles, pelvis untucked, neck looks longer too right?! What's going on at the feet is travelling all the way on and up my friends! Imagine Nic was coming to sit down in a chair right now. She could even get up the same way. Did someone say "I could practice this out in the world at least 20 times a day easily!" I love you that person, I truly do! 

Sore Knees? - Don't avoid stairs, learn to move better and get stronger instead

Welcome Back! I missed you but I didn't stop working on ways to help us move better and get stronger every single day.

This term let's commit to finding practical ways to fit more and better movement into our daily lives. No scheduling required! We'll multi-task to get started, taking care of your knees and getting stronger legs at the same time.

I had a volunteer test knee care for you over the holidays. He had a tweaky knee after a strenuous bush walk and we talked about whether it would be (a) better to avoid such rough and steep terrain in the future, or (b) train to make those ranges of motion accessible. Guess what he decided?

If you went with (b) you are correct! And it's not just so you can hike freely.  I've worked with people in their 20's who were already avoiding kneeling because it hurt. I'm not saying to do something even though it hurts, I'm saying lets investigate what you need to make that movement comfortable again. Not doing it limits you and may encourage other compensatory problems to develop too.

So you have your motivation and the solution is pretty simple. Release the tension that limits your joint function and strengthen the muscles that will power you up and down with ease. We'll continue to explore this in our classes but what about using stairs to train your knees every day?

Notice that the front knee is collapsing out to the side and that the foot is turned out, creating lots of force into ligaments and not so much muscle engagement. Not a great way to utilise our moving parts.

Notice that the front knee is collapsing out to the side and that the foot is turned out, creating lots of force into ligaments and not so much muscle engagement. Not a great way to utilise our moving parts.

Here he has so much more potential to take care of his knees and actually use the muscles in the back of his legs! Yay!

Here he has so much more potential to take care of his knees and actually use the muscles in the back of his legs! Yay!

STAIRS ARE GREAT KNEE TRAINERS!
Don't avoid them, do them differently. Master stairs and hills will become easy. Change what your body is doing as you step and you can remove painful friction and get stronger at the same time.

  • Don't Lean Forward
    We lean because it lets us use momentum instead of our leg muscles. Slow down your movements so you can use your legs more. They'll get stronger and the stairs will get easier.
     
  • Check What Your Knees Are Doing As You Step
    Is your stepping leg tracking straight ahead or is it collapsing in our out as you place your steeping foot down? Use your hip muscles to centre your knee. This keeps you out of those sensitive knee ligaments and uses muscles instead (a common theme for us and not just with the knees).
     
  • Are Your Calves Pulling Their Weight?
    Don't just use the front leg to pull you up, try and push off with the foot of the back leg as well. This takes pressure off your knee and strengthens your calves. One of our constant missions is waking up the muscles in the back of the legs.
If you practice these ideas as separate exercises you'll find that eventually they become the new habit and you'll willingly increase how many times you go up and down stairs - adding more and better movement to your day.

This and many more movement health gems are in Katy Bowman's latest book. I've got 3 library copies currently doing the rounds. If you'd rather buy your own Fishpond have Dynamic Aging on special with free postage here: Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Better Whole-Body Mobility

Feeling good is it's own reward!

Here we are already, it's the last week of the term and we've packed a lot in and had a lot of fun. I have light bulb moments every term but a big one for me this term is how much our movement is shaped by our cultural expectations of one another. That's a fancy way of saying - "I can't stand / sit / stretch like that, people will think I'm weird!"

I was at a show recently and the lady next to me asked if I had a bad back, because I'd used my coat and bag as seat pads to help me sit well. I explained that I didn't have a bad back but these seats could potentially give me one. She looked at me strangely, made it clear she didn't want to know what I was on about and opened her Malteesers (she didn't even offer me one!) But after 2 hours (and a few wriggles) I was fine. Whereas I often see people around me getting up with groans, and they hobble off clutching their backs.

Below is a range of ways I move regularly out on walks with my dog. I grab the backpack and do as many jobs as I can. I make phone calls, connect with other folk in the neighbourhood, do the shopping - and Bart has meetings with his local doggy crew. We get a lot of done and we move in lots of different ways. And we both feel great for it. *please note Bart is attached via his lead to my backpack, leaving me free to arm swing. Please use your own discretion as to whether this is a good idea with your team of sled dogs, my guess is probably not.

I also like to set myself fun challenges (I recognise that my idea of fun may be alternate to yours, but humour me), like today every time Bart stopped to investigate I squatted in some way (keep it nice please people). He investigates a lot so it was a great workout!

    So building on last weeks theme I say REBEL people. This is a Call to Arms! (see what I did there?). Move more all day every day. Not just because your slightly nutty movement health teacher suggested it, but because you might feel some instant benefit. What better motivation could there be?

    Take care over the holidays and don't forget to check out your videos. There are 2 new ones up there. Rhomboid Pushups and Lateral Hip strengthening too. It's free to subscribe and then any new ones get emailed to you.  X Mel

    Katy has just released a new book, and it is my favourite so far. It's called 'Dynamic Aging' but it really is an all ages gem. It's easy to understand and very inspiring. Her co-authors all began as her students and became Restorative Exercise teachers, and they are all 70 and 80+ years old. I have 3 library copies currently in circulation and Fishpond have it on special with free postage here: Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Better Whole-Body Mobility

    PS. All Term 2 Boookings are now available on line. There is a new 6am Tuesday class freeing you up for more make up potential too, and Nicole's new workshops are filling fast.

    So I'm at a Music Festival....how do I take care of my back with so much potential for sitting?

    (This blog also translates to theatre intervals, airport waiting lounges, train stations ......you get the drift!)

    We've just got back from the Port Fairy Folk Festival and I saw some of you gorgeous folk there. Here are my tricks (and some of yours that you shared with me) for avoiding the perils of too much sitting:

    • Once you park your car at the camping ground (or wherever you are staying) that's it. You walk everywhere. It probably makes the biggest difference in counteracting the sitting factor. A good guideline for life at home too. Move more, sit less.
    • Dance every chance you get
    • Think about how you sit - in other words sit better (a theme of this week's class)
    • Vary the way you sit, lot's of our exercises can be done sitting
      • No.4 while you sit
      • Arch and release while you sit
      • Hand stretch while you sit
      • Modified Crescent while you sit
      • 'Sit to stand' with our squat technique and 'stand to sit' as well (knees don't go past ankles and stay tracking forward)
    • I could go on, and on, and on, but I like you too much (did I mention dancing?)
    IMG_6134.jpg

    In summary what you don't want to do is sit for hours in the same position only to find you can barely get up (which I see happening to lots of folks around me at festivals). Or you do get up and go and find some food and sit down again to eat it. Instead walk around and stretch it all out every single chance you get. Double calf stretch, thoracic stretch, reach and release standing variations. All of these things can be done in between gigs. 

    Because in the end sitting for hours tends to impede your circulation, making you feel tired and listless and more inclined to feel that...........you need to sit! Exit the vicious circle my friends, join the restless among us. Get up and move around often. (This blog also translates to theatre intervals, airport waiting lounges, train stations ......you get the drift!)

    And Another New Video!

    The great thing about our foundation exercises is the power you have to mix them up - to make them a part of your daily life. It can be a minute here, 2 minutes there. Really, more than anything, it is a gradual shift in an awareness of how you move.

    New Videos and It's Foot Week!

    The value of relaxation aligned with the release of physical tension makes a powerful duo, and many of you take advantage of that by coming to class early each week.

    Recently the early Friday crew (they get there at 6.10 for their 6.30 class!)  incorporated some pre-class warm ups (or unwinds) into their routine. This inspired me to make 3 videos based around different ways to utilise a Psoas release. These are also ideal for practice at home or on holiday (look for my earlier 'Long Car Trip Unwind' youtubes for even more ideas).

    Video 1 releases tension in the centre of the body via Press and Release and Arch and Release. Mobility in your centre can have a big impact on your hip and shoulder function.

    Video 2 adds the Number 4 release and a supported Butterfly to the mix. Such a wonderful partnership for hip and back health.

    Video 3 shifts the focus to the upper body, with a hand stretch and Angel Arms.

    Also it's Foot Week (yes there will be a nobbly mat to walk on!)

    Could it be possible that many of our movement health issues begin with our feet? What if simply massaging your foot with a tennis ball for a few minutes could help you to stand well, improve your balance and walk more effectively too. If you are coming to this weeks classes you'll get to find out. We even have new spikey balls to work with.

    A quarter of the bones in your whole body are in your feet! But wait, there's more. They have 33 joints (your legs only have 3), and there are more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments just waiting to be called into action. But if the movement potential of your feet has been restricted (think shoes or living over your toes) their stiffness will resonate on and up in your body (yes, my friends, that's why we do top of the foot release!)
    These are trained stunt feet.

    These are trained stunt feet.

    One of the best ways to take pressure off your feet is to stop living over the toes. That's right, back those hips up. Here are a few other ideas to consider:

    • Can you spread your toes in your shoes?
    • Are the soles flexible so those 100 + muscles can do their thing?
    • Are your shoes secured on your foot in some way? An ankle strap, even just elastic attached to your thong - stops the need to claw your toes to keep your shoes on when you walk.
    • Do you spend some time barefoot?
    • Do you vary the surfaces you walk upon? Simply moving from grass to gravel to a slope can activate many more muscles than always taking the concreted path.
    • If you want to read more about moving to a minimalist shoe click here.

    Your feet are an important feedback tool, letting the rest of your body know what terrain you are experiencing and how it needs to respond. But there is also so much potential joy of feeling the world through your feet. Walking barefoot on damp grass after a summer rain can feel pretty magical. On a walk with Nic I was reminded how fabulous it feels to have mud between my toes too. I bet you can think of your own favourite ways to be barefoot.

    Whatever changes you make let them be gradual and with respect for the tissues need to adapt. There is no rush, and even the smallest amount of attention you give your feet can deliver many benefits.

    Want to Expand Your Range?

    Full Range of Motion of Our Joints - by Nicole Kees

    The week before last (already? Where did that time go??) I attended a 5 day course lead by a wonderful teacher by the name of Jules Mitchell. She is an interesting combination of Yoga teacher, biomechanist and exercise scientist – very much about the East meeting with the West. She wanted her masters thesis to incorporate relevance to advancing our understanding of what happens when we practice Yoga so she began an in depth understanding of the muscles which lead to stretching: the useful elements and also the potential for injury.

    These photos are from last weeks Walking Workshop with NIc. Expanding your range can be so much fun. Grab a group of friends and go play in the local park.

    These photos are from last weeks Walking Workshop with NIc. Expanding your range can be so much fun. Grab a group of friends and go play in the local park.

    One of the takeaways for me, that I shared in class last week, was a direct link to Katy Bowman’s work in which she talks about “mechanotransduction”: the ability of every cell to respond to changes in pressure exerted upon it (or lack there of) and transfer that pressure to the next cell and the next and so on.

    So when our joints receive pressure signals through movement or load it can stimulate the cells involved with cartilage production to keep reproducing. The example Jules used was in the hip or shoulder joints: if we don’t move our arms or legs in a way that puts the joint through its full range of motion then eventually the cartilage that is being missed in our movement patterns is no longer required to be produced by the body. In later years cartilage at the outer edges of the joint appears crumbly or non-existent thus limiting comfortable movement.

    I guess the take home message is to keep moving our whole body, in all planes of movement: front, back, to the side, overhead, rotating…I’m thinking dancing like a wild-woman!! On a more reasonable level, find things in every day life that simulate these movements so you can get things done…but try and keep the joy and curiosity part of it as well, the mind too plays such a big part in how we move.

    Relaxing your ribs can expand your breath

    This last few weeks we've talked a lot about the mechanics of the shoulders and how much they are effected by the position of our ribs. We know that when we lift our chest and thrust our ribs we can create body wide tension. But did you know that this can also restrict your ability to breathe well?

    There are many different ways to breathe - are you singing, dancing, walking, running to catch a train? When you are lying down and looking to release tension belly breathing is hugely beneficial but in many cases when you are upright rib cage breathing is a great way to go. It's kind to your pelvic floor and can allow your core muscles to work more reflexively. It uses all of your respiratory muscles and gets your ribs moving (we can get very stuck in the intercostal muscles between the ribs). It also allows your neck and shoulders to take a break.

    As with everything my advice is don't try and force change. Getting yourself stressed because your ribs don't move much when you breathe is just going to lock you up. Enjoy your regular psoas release, do your calf stretch, enjoy your daily walks. How is your Real Life Dosage going? In classes this week we are checking in at the start of class and then again at the end and seeing how it feels to sense and feel movement in the rib cage when we breathe.  We realise that the adjustments we make can create positive change for more than just our muscles and joints.

     

    My feet are on the ground. Shoulders drop from ears (this could be me reaching up to the top of a door frame if they made them that low). Just doing this exercise regularly is going to make a more natural engagement of rib cage breathing possible.

    My feet are on the ground. Shoulders drop from ears (this could be me reaching up to the top of a door frame if they made them that low). Just doing this exercise regularly is going to make a more natural engagement of rib cage breathing possible.

    This clip by Katy Bowman offers a more detailed explanation.

     

     

    Wave Your Hands in The Air Like You Don't Care

    I wanted a catchy title for a shoulder girdle post and this classic hit from the 80's popped into my mind. One thing led to another and I've just been dancing like a wild thing for the past 3 minutes (have you ever seen the Elaine dance episode from Seinfeld? If yes you now have the appropriate visual.) Now either read on or click here if you'd rather go back in time and dance 80's style - black lycra unitard optional!

    Dancing like a wild thing notwithstanding, how many times a day do you take your arms up above your head? It's often so infrequent that when we do we take a lot of muscle tension with us. If you've got a door frame you can reach up and touch, or a tree branch, or a park with some handy sized bars - or just a really good imagination - you can do this exercise. Please note in the pictures below Nic does not take her feet off the supporting bar. At this stage (unless you've already safely progressed to hanging) do keep your feet down on the ground.

    Whenever you can during the day practice taking your arms up over your head, then see if you can drop your shoulders down away from your ears and encourage your ribs to relax too (don't force them down, that too can be a kind of stress - just allow the whole exercise to be a little quieter. Doing it mindfully, gently, regularly and in an enjoyable way is what will open up lasting change).

    In Photo 1 Nic's ribs are shearing forward and her shoulders are hunched up (notice how her neck almost disappears). In Photo 2 her ribs and her shoulders are down. Notice the return of her lovely long neck. The side view is even more telling - in the 3rd photo you can see Nic's rib cage is out in front of her pelvis. Can you pick up the subtle forward head that goes with that? Now look at the 4th photo.  Nic's ribs are lining up with her pelvis and her ears have come back into line with her shoulders.

    The bonus in all of this is correct alignment equals much better use of your abdominal muscles. I can always get people excited about that one ;-). Come and practice (play) with us between classes at The Hub. We've got lots of gentler variations that can help you find upper body strength and freedom at your own pace. Here's a video from last year with a nice variation we've been playing with on the bars at KYO (no unitard I promise!).

    Real Life Dosage

    We can have all the well meaning intention in the world when it comes to getting stronger and healthier. One of the ways to trip yourself up though (and I speak from experience here) is to go at it like a bull at a gate.

    We frequently remind people to approach change gradually and consistently. Remembering to 'back your hips up'  is a great example of how you make gradual changes towards long term goals (do it enough and it can become the default).

    To make that journey a little easier to digest the wonderful Laura McKinnon has created a 'Real Life Dosage' sheet for us. This gem allows us to create the impetus for long term improvement in the way we move and the way we feel.

    But My Pelvis Over My Toes Feels Comfortable?

    You can understand logically why it might be wise to live over your heels rather than your toes - but why does it feel so weird? Because your tissues are used to it. They've adapted around that shape. An example might help here. Say I've worn 6 cm heels in my shoes for so long that my calves have got the message that they don't need to be so long. They are now 10% shorter than optimal. Then I take my shoes off (without doing any supporting work) and try to stand with my hips over my heels. You don't need to be an engineer to understand that this is going to be extremely challenging and potentially stressful for the body and mind.

    It really is true that patient repetition builds the new normal so 'Real Life Dosage' starts to make that very accessible and practical.

      Current habits feel comfortable because your tissues have shaped around them. Remember they've also changed how you move in a way that has potentially caused friction and pain. A new normal is right around the corner - but it will take a growing awareness of how you move throughout your day.

      So where do we begin? 

       

      We have lots of enjoyable and useful exercises to explore. But these ones create the foundation for them all. They give you an opportunity to practice many times a day. You can practice how you stand without anyone else even noticing. While you're there why not add knee cap release? I have it on good authority that some of you are kicking of your shoes at cafes and top of foot stretching while having a cuppa with a friend. You are my heroes (so long as you are also rolling your pelvis forward while you sit!) 

      Thank you Laura! X

       

      Can Changing How You Move Change How You Feel?

      Yes.

       

      I've promised to try to go a little lighter on the 'bla bla' for 2017. But could I expand maybe just a little?

      What if your pain and lack of mobility aren’t due to your age, but to your habits? What if changing how you move can change how you feel, no matter your age?

      This idea is central to why I've developed this program. I love all sorts of movement. I love dancing, climbing, walking and swimming - but I could see patterns in myself and patterns in my friends, family and students - and I knew there had to be more to why so many of us were in pain.We approach our weekly classes with this idea of an evolving understanding of the mechanics of your amazing body. We look at what it needs to thrive, and what sorts of things can be leading to discomfort. We have our Essentials exercises - which cover the kinds of things (and really awareness) that you can keep coming back to all day, and then we also work with a range of other series to unwind tension, get stronger and enjoy ourselves too.

      I love to see people trying something new and the look of real achievement when they realise that age does not have to limit us. I've worked with 16 year olds who initially had a bit of a struggle with hanging from a monkey bar and 70+ year olds who are now doing so gleefully for the first time in their lives.

      There's no rush and there is no magic bullet. It takes time to change your movement blueprint - but we make sure that we have some fun along the way. Hope you can join us.

      We believe in grown ups climbing trees! (if they want to, and if they don't - that's ok too. Come along on one of our free movement community walks)

      We believe in grown ups climbing trees! (if they want to, and if they don't - that's ok too. Come along on one of our free movement community walks)

      Are you new to working with us this term? Here is a video of our Essentials program, with a few bonus exercises along for the ride.

      Bolstering On The Move - Summer Walking Inspiration with Laura!

      We had such a great Community Walk on Tuesday - I felt like a kid whose friends had all dropped in to play Leggo, or Barbies, or whatever your favourite chlidhood game was! Taking your healthy movement out on the road can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, so read on for some brilliant tips from Laura McKinnon

      Bolstering On The Move

      You've taken Mel's classes, you've bought into the 'blah blah' ;) which isn't hard since it works!  - and you're feeling the transformation and restoration of your body…now you want to take all you're learning 'on the road'! So how do all these alignment points work once you're on the move - say on your daily walk?

      Do you take everything you've learnt and apply it to your walking body? The short answer is Yes! and No! or more accurately a little bit, and here and there :)

      The long answer…

      Just as in class, where you meet your tissues where they are and work on change, this is where you start with walking.

      If you dive straight into 'perfect' head ramp, ribs down, neutral knees, feet straight, etc, the load to your tissues in these new positions of alignment, while biomechanically correct,  would be too great to their current condition and could cause pain, and even injury.

      So, just as Mel teaches in class, be gentle on your body and allow slow and safe transition, both for your mind (it can get pretty hectic trying to remember and stay aware of what your head, chin, ribs, arms, pelvis, knees and feet are doing while walking - and still enjoy your walk!) and your tissues, to these new alignment points and ways of moving.

      A great way to slowly transition the alignment points and movement principles to your walking is to use a type of 'bolstering on the move'. Some of the ways you can 'bolster' are the degree that you apply an alignment point and for how long. On your next walk pick an alignment point (or two if it's not too much to think about!) and then pick a tree or street corner to walk to, or number of steps/minutes you're going to focus on applying it. Also choose to what degree. For example how far down will you drop your ribs? How far forward will you rotate your elbow pits?

      Here are some alignment points and movement principles to consider while out and about:

      • Feet hip width apart

      • Feet straight ahead

      • Neutral knees (very tricky while walking!)

      • Neutral pelvis

      • Listing the pelvis to bring the straight 'stepping leg' through

      • Actively using the backside of the supporting leg to generate the force to propel you forward (gluteus, hamstring, calf, foot and toes)

      • Neutral elbow pits (facing forward)

      • Reciprocal arm swing actively pulling behind (and then reflexively swinging forward)

      • Ribs down

      • Head ramped (chin in!)

      • Eyes up and looking at varied distances and directions (as your terrain allows to safely)

      Remember to only apply these alignment points and movement principles as it feels right for your body on that particular walk . It might change for you from walk to walk- even within a walk! Stay mindful of how your body is feeling and adjust as necessary.

      A little reminder chant my mum, Annie, and I use in our heads like a marching band while walking is 'back, back, back'! This helps to keep us aware, making sure all our walking is happening behind us. The reciprocal arm swing is actively pulling back while the supporting leg pushes behind, all the way from the extended hip flexor and active gluteus muscle, all the way down through the foot and toes, to propel you forward.

      May the alignment points be with you (a little bit at a time) out on your walks!


      What a fantastic post, thank you so much Laura! Also huge thanks go to Catherine who has done a makeover of my Summer Sessions flier. This, my friends, is why you call in the professionals.

      A LITTLE UNWIND CAN MEAN SUCH A LOT - HOLIDAY VIDEOS FOR YOU

      I'm about to give you the best gift I could think of, a few weeks away from the Bla Bla factory!

      But that isn't enough to express my gratitude for your coming along to classes and being a part of the team of beautiful humans that make up our movement community.  I know that this time of year can get pretty busy and perhaps even stressful for many people. After a recent long car trip my own positive experience with short bursts of our program was so helpful I was inspired to make a few videos for you. The production quality is not great, as I did not have access to my usual make-up team and film crew. In fact the camera broke down and I had to come back to the trusty Iphone. It looked pretty funny there on the tripod, wedged between the proper camera and the microphone (neither of which were working.....but it did the job!)

      I think they still stand up with what they offer though - bite size approaches to unwinding tension, and even starting to get stronger - all approached in a more easeful way. In my own experience and this is also true in many of the people I've worked with, what tends to get you to monkey bar queen/king status is not the pushups, it is releasing the tensions that inhibit full access of a wide range of muscles that support whole body movements. 

      Thank you so much for coming along this year, and for those of you we haven't met yet - thanks for visiting and we hope to catch up soon. Wishing you every happiness for 2017. Here are your videos.  Please enjoy!

      Part 1 is all based on a Psoas Release position as the foundation. The only equipment used in all 3 videos was found in our Air Bnb cottage. Couch cushions were a feature!

      Part 2 allows you to get used to this whole idea of supporting more of your body weight via your arms - but very gently and at the rate you are ready for. At the same time you can release tension via a number of exercises.

      Part 3 involves a lovely foot tension release = try it, you won't believe what a difference it makes to how you feel.

      Congratulations to Robyn on winning the foot massage mat! Thanks to Trish for being in charge of selection protocol on the day (Trish closed her eyes and all entries were folded. Random selection guaranteed).

      Congratulations to Robyn on winning the foot massage mat! Thanks to Trish for being in charge of selection protocol on the day (Trish closed her eyes and all entries were folded. Random selection guaranteed).

      And just incase you were wondering, this is one such monkey bar queen in her natural environment. We have many others, but not all will let me photograph them yet! Thanks Laura X

      And just incase you were wondering, this is one such monkey bar queen in her natural environment. We have many others, but not all will let me photograph them yet! Thanks Laura X