Monday, June 9, 2014

Let my Somatics Teacher explain what Somatics is

I haven't really perfected my "elevator pitch" yet for when folks ask me what somatics is, but here's a video by Martha Peterson, who I'm studying under for my Somatics Exercise Coach certification. She explains it oh-so-well!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fitness Vocabulary: Sensory Motor Amnesia

In 25 Words or Less
Sensory Motor Amnesia--a term coined by Thomas Hanna, in which muscles have become habitually contracted (tight), as a reflex to stress, trauma, etc, and neurologically one's brain must be retrained to relax said muscles.

Let's Go Deeper
Hanna equated SMA to the the same process of learning any skill. Your muscles respond to an accident, trauma, injury or just plain old day-to-day-hunching-over-your-desk stress by contracting. Over time your muscles repeatedly contract in response to the stress or pain, so that eventually it's an unconscious habit.

Maybe you're unaware that your shoulders are constantly elevated towards your ears or that you're still hiking your hip due to a sprained ankle that "healed" five years ago. All you know is that now you have aches and pains, maybe even in other parts of your body, that no amount of stretching, massaging, chiropractic adjusting will fix long term.

Your brain and body have developed sensory motor amnesia. But in the same light that your muscles have created a faulty pattern, you can tune into your body's imbalances, practice Somatics exercises, and retrain your brain to relax your muscles, so you reverse your pain and regain a more supple body.

It's so simple yet so profound. If you'd like to experience it for yourself let me know. I offer somatic exercise classes and private sessions. I love it and I bet you will too!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fitness Vocabulary: Somatics

In 25 Words or Less
Somatics--from a physical perspective-- is a series of exercises to help one reeducate how to move the body with ease and release chronic tension.

Somatic refers to the awareness of what one feels within their own body.

Let's Go Deeper
There are several movement programs that focus on somatics--exercises to help turn off chronic tension and release muscle contractions. Popular methods include Feldenkrais Method and Alexander Technique. But most often when someone refers to a Somatics they are referring to Thomas Hanna's exercises, part of his Hanna Somatic Education.

The difference between Mind-Body and Somatic Education
You've probably heard the term Mind-Body exercises, usually in relation to programs such as tai chi, pilates, meditation, or yoga.

According to Cleveland Clinic website, "The mind-body connection means that you can learn to use your thoughts to positively influence some of your body’s physical responses, thereby decreasing stress. If you recall a time when you were happy, grateful or calm, your body and mind tend to relax."

In other words, you use your thoughts (brain) to control/generate a bodily response.

Somatics on the other hand is kind of the opposite. It relates to your perception of how your body feels from the inside out. A simple example would be to lie down on the floor, lengthen your legs, arms down at your sides, close your eyes, and sense where your body contacts the floor. You'd be amazed at how not symmetrical you probably are. One leg can be turned out more, a hip can be hiked, your shoulder blades might not evenly contact the floor, your back can be overly arched up off the floor, and more. Your brain is receiving and register feedback from your body. Those imbalances are usually caused by muscle imbalances. By moving the body through somatic exercises, you learn how to correct the imbalances. It takes time, slow movement, and awareness. But it is so worth it!

I could go on but I'll stop with this... 
If you've ever work with a Hanna Somatics, Feldenkrais or Alexander Technique practitioner, you may notice that there are some similarities between them all. Hanna studied under Moshe Feldenkrais, then developed his own method after studying neurology at the University of Miami Medical School. There's debate about whether Feldenkrais stole ideas from F.M. Alexander. But that's another story.

Feldenkrais and Alexander Technique are both more well known in the Portland Oregon area than Hanna Somatics. Practitioners of all three can either manually guide a client through the motions, teach the client to do the exercises independently, and also as a group class. Personally I like the proactive approach so the student can really identify/feel what his/her own body is doing.

Join me!
My Restorative Fitness classes blend moves from Thomas Hanna's teachings plus other somatic continuing education courses I've taken. Most teacher training programs require instructors to complete so many practice hours before certification, so please join me sometime in a class or email me to set up your own private session. I'm very excited to share this method!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fitness Vocabulary: sagittal plane/anatomical planes

I've been thinking about a Vocabulary category for blog posts for a very long time. I use certain terms and words in my training, and sometimes things need a little clarity....

Like with my latest freebie: Kristin's Walk/Jog/Run Training Program. I had a few notes in there that might make you scratch your head. So I guess I'll start there...

Here's a great diagram showing
the anatomical directional terms and body planes.

Like a compass identifying the directions on a map, anatomical planes help divide the body into sections to help identify location of certain structures and how they relate to others.

The Sagittal Plane is a vertical plane which passes from front (anterior) to the back (posterior) of the body dividing it into right and left halves.

So what's the big deal about the sagittal plane? 

Well this is the plane we humans mostly move in. And hopefully fairly symetrically, i.e. not leaning to the left or right on the coronal plane, like someone with scoloisis or leg length difference might. 

But this is not the end-all-be-all way to move. Our bodies can move in lots of different anatomical directions and in combinations of them. Just like the saying goes: Use it lose it! So that's why activities that bend us side to side or twist on the transverse plane are important and help us avoid injury.

So there you have it. Your first fitness vocabulary word. Don't you feel smarter?! 

 There will be a pop quiz later. Nah, I'm just kidding.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Crafting to help me heal

I'm currently dealing with plantar fasciitis. It sucks with a capital S! But just like every other ache and pain I've dealt with, this too will pass. In the interim I miss my walk/jogs with Panda. I love to get out in the morning and let my mind percolate thoughts to share here, so that's not happening as often. At least that's my excuse for being MIA here on the blog. :-)

To stimulate my brain and keep me off the concrete, I have been crafting more, so I thought I'd share some of my latest endeavors...

Wedding Seed Packets

My sister and Bryan got hitched on the beach in Hawaii in March, then friends and family celebrated in San Francisco Mother's Day weekend. Corey and I also eloped, so apparently none of us are into making a big deal over weddings and receptions. But I did offer to make some sort of party favor! I ordered wildflower seed packs from Etsy. Then I designed a rubber stamp and found a gal here in town to make the actual stamp.

Memorial Quilt from Plaid Shirts

As some of you know, my dad died in December, and I wanted to make quilts using his shirts for me, my sister and mom. Well, I've never actually made a quilt, I just specialize in checking out quilting books from the library. Precision is not my forte*, so I thought I'd start with the Log Cabin block. For some reason I thought that one might be a bit forgiving if it didn't line up perfectly. I had my doubts along the way, but as I learned more and more about all the steps to making an actual quilt, I really enjoyed the process, even if it's not all that precise.

I had planned to make the first one for my sister, but as this one progressed, and it was Mother's Day weekend after all, I had to give it to my mom. (Just for the record, not all those fabrics are from Daddy's wardrobe. The man loved his plaid, but a quilt of all plaids would have been a visual nightmare, so I pulled from my scrap basket too.)

Grow Your Own!

Lastly, being spring and all, I buckled down and started my veggie garden. Well, I don't really have a garden, since my yard gets a lot of shade through the day. Instead, in primo spots I planted seeds and starts (4 different squash varieties, 2 types of cukes, a jalapeƱo pepper plant, peas, snap peas, Ichiban eggplant, and beets, radishes, 2 heirloom tomatoes --thanks to Carolyn!--and lots of lettuces.)

You wanna know what part of our lot is actually the sunniest? The driveway! So I dragged some dumpster finds home and used old soda crates and a drawer to expand into the sunshine.

Upcycling soda crates as a mini veggie garden.

I walked by this drawer at a neighbor's curb all winter long. 

Yum! Maybe I need to do some thinning. Ya think?

Anyhoo, that's the latest for now.  I'll share some more later, but back to work. 

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone and thanks for reading!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More Restorative Fitness classes!

Updated 5/19/14
Remember when I was hit by a car a while back? The silver lining to that day was that I turned my research and continuing education to corrective and restorative exercise methods. And believe me, I explored a lot of them!

So, now I'm thrilled to share all that I've learned (and continue to learn) with you in my Restorative Fitness classes. That's not to say that I'm abandoning my outdoor fitness classes, or saying goodbye to Tabata. On the contrary! I love them all, and they all make our fitness routines complete. It's just that the Restorative Fitness methods make everything else--running, hula hooping, pilates, Tabata, hiking, desk work. . . well, life in general-- easier. Really, you need to experience if for yourself!
Here's what's on the schedule currently.

Restorative Fitness- Proactive Postural Restructuring Focus 

Tuesdays 9:45-10:45am

Sign up here!

Restorative Fitness- Muscle Tension Release

Tuesdays 5:45pm-6:30pm
 Fridays at 8:30-9:30am

Sign up here!

Our bodies take on compensation patterns from past injuries, accidents, trauma, desk jobs and stress that result in what's called sensory motor amnesia. Our brains become unaware of what your muscles are doing and we are stuck in a painful loop of tension and muscle imbalances that make us ache.

In these classes I'll blend techniques that include and focus on
  • breathing
  • range of motion moves
  • Proactive Postural Restructuring
  • somatics
  • pilates
  • yoga
  • foam rolling (similar to the Melt Method)
  • qi gong
  • and more
Our bodies often take on compensation patterns from past injuries, accidents, trauma, desk jobs and stress that result in what's called sensory motor amnesia. Our brains become unaware of what our muscles are doing and we are stuck in a painful loop of tension and muscle imbalances that make us ache.

Intrigued? Then come learn to tune into your body's imbalances, turn off that chronic tension and feel relaxed and refreshed. It's truly amazing!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Great Special for Newbies!

-------------------- April Special-------------------
1 Private Session + 1 Month of Classes for $99!

Get a Jumpstart on your Fitness and Lifestyle Goals!
  • private training session to help you establish goals and design a weekly plan targeting your goals
  • enjoy all kinds of classes up to two per week for a month
  • get on track with lots accountability, motivation and sound guidance
  • meet friendly, supportive exercise buddies!
You really should take a look at my Specials Page to see all the details. Then email me to get started with that first session!

And feel free to spread this around the innerwebs. You know, on Facebook, email, smoke signals. Gracias!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If exercise is a pain you're doing it wrong

You know that old adage, "No pain, no gain"? Well, that's a bunch of crap. There's a world of difference between being sore a day or two after doing strenuous exercise and suffering through pain while working out. So, today I'd like to clarify a few things about the feedback your body gives you while exercising. Read on...

This is NOT what exercise should look like.
Pain is one kind of feedback that you can get during a workout. But despite popular belief, it's more like a red flag than a gold star. Pain is your body's way of helping you avoid injury. So, when you're exercising, think of pain as a Tweet from your brain telling your body to rethink what it's doing.

So, how do you exercise without pain? For some people, just getting cues about proper form (alignment and posture) can do the trick. For others, though, it takes stepping back and learning to function properly.

Past trauma, injuries, surgery and even desk work can affect how you function in everyday life and more so when you're exercising. It’s a domino effect — poor function leads to increasingly poorer form, which can lead to injury, which can set you back further from your goals.

One of the first things I tell my clients is: There's a difference between 'Oh!' and 'Ow!'

Oh! is when you connect your brain with your body and feel particular muscles doing their proper job while doing a particular exercise. For instance, when you do a push up (with good form) and feel your chest muscles engage to lower you and then push you up from the floor, that is an Oh! moment. Yes, this can be challenging. You might have a bit of soreness in your muscles later on, but no exercise should hurt while you're doing it.

An Ow! moment, then, is when an action feels painful, which usually means you are doing something incorrectly.

This is a hard point to sell to folks who really want to get in shape and just jump into the deep end of the pool before learning how to swim, so to speak. Too many people aren't functioning well to begin with. Then they hit the gym, load their muscles with weights and think, 'Well, exercise is supposed to hurt, so I must be doing it right!' WRONG.

So what can you do to function better? Well, let me tell ya!

  • Work with a trainer who does assessments—postural, strength, function, flexibility, etc.—to see what's going in your body.
  • Try restorative and corrective exercise methods. There are a lot of these out there, but some of the popular ones are Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Somatics and my Proactive Postural Restructuring courses
  • Work on your breathing patterns and pelvic floor. PT Julie Wiebe has a great webinar covering both of these and how they work together—well worth the money!
  • Slow down and tune in. This is a hard one in this crazy world, but some down time can help you reduce tension. 
  • Stop redoing what you're doing. If you've been doing the exact same exercise routine for years, change it up. Talk to me if you need suggestions.
Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Proactive Postural Restructuring Courses start first week of April!

I have new Proactive Postural Restructuring Level 1 Courses starting this month. This is in my "Beta mode" so this is a great time to sign up and learn at a reduced rate!
There is a morning and evening option. (Sorry, you must pick one series or the other, no mix and match)
  • Please note the dates. Both courses meet 6 times each. Evening classes meet on six consecutive Thursdays. The morning classes meet Tuesday and Thursday for two weeks and then the following Tuesdays for two weeks.
  • There is an option for two 30-minute private postural and altered muscle patterns assessments before and after the course (please contact me to schedule these.)
  • Handouts provided so you can practice during the course and long after it's over
Proactive Postural Restructuring Level 1 Course
Tuesdays and Thursday 9:45-10:30am
Tuesdays and Thursdays 4/1, 4/3, 4/8, 4/10 + Tuesdays 4/, 4/22 = 6 classes total
Course fee: $99 without assessments
or $149 with assessments
Register here!

Proactive Postural Restructuring Level 1 Course
Thursday 5:45-6:30pm
Thursdays March 27–May 1 = 6 classes total
Course fee: $99 without assessments
or $149 with assessments
Register here!

What exactly is Proactive Postural Restructuring? You can read more about it here. Short and sweet, it's a series of simple movements to reeducate and reorganize muscle patterning that bring better balance, ease and comfort to how we feel in our bodies. The exercises help to 
  • restore proper length and width to the back, releasing tension.
  • develop better awareness in your lower back, hips, and pelvis so we separate movement that occurs in the hip from movement that occurs in the spine.
  • restore proper strength and flexibility in the ankles and feet, so they are fully operational which improves our base of support and helps correct stance and gait patterns. 

Other Things to Consider
INTRO COURSES: I offer Intro PPR Workshops so people can "try it before they buy it", so to speak, but you can sign up without taking a prior intro course. It's good idea to sign up for my email announcements!  
IDEAL STUDENTS:  PPR is best suited for those who are proactive in their health and fitness journey. Proactive, meaning that one personally takes action instead of choosing just passive methods such as massage, chiropractic or surgery to release pain. Proactive methods often make the passive treatments that much more effective and speed up the process for recovery and rehab. The student has to tune into her/his body, perform the movements, be aware and practice. 
POSTURAL ASSESSMENTS: I offer pre and post assessments so people can be more aware of their body's alignment, which can help bring awareness to the exercises. It's not mandatory, but most folks find it helpful and eye opening.
RESULTS: Those who have tried it find it extremely helpful and gives quick results for many of them. Even after the first introduction they feel differences in their bodies, joints and muscles. They find that their hips and knees ache less and their feet feel warm and alive. They also recognize that it's not going to remedy everything in one class. It'll take regular practice. 

I'd love to share it with you! If you have questions please contact me

Monday, February 24, 2014

Proactive Postural Restructuring Update

Whoa! I'm so excited to share the latest on my Proactive Postural Restructuring training. I recently hosted a couple of PPR introductory workshops and I got a lot of positive and helpful feedback.

PPR is a somatic exercise method, designed to improve functionality in your a hips, knees, ankles and feet. Over time it can bring better alignment to your pelvis, so that misalignments below and above the pelvis can correct themselves.

As we practiced the moves I'd have the groups get up and walk around a bit. Give them time to feel how their bodies were responding.  To quote some of them, they said they felt taller, straightened out, aligned better, as if their feet were lighter and their ankles moved better. Some people with more pronounced biomechanical deviations--things like feet turned out or weak knees--found the moves challenging but recognized how the exercises could really help them. One person said her knees felt better after just the hour than when she originally walked in the door. Another person even emailed me to say she felt different emotionally the rest of the day. Which just goes to show how powerful somatics can be!

The students thought that this method would be better learned in a series of classes than in a drop in method and I agree. So stay tuned for those courses, coming in March!

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