by Jane Marchant, physical therapist
Lower back pain is experienced by most people at some time in their lives. The muscles which support our back are in constant use, while our body is in motion, but also while simply sitting or standing. This constant stress on the back easily results in back pain. Most back pain is caused by muscle or ligament strain, however there are other causes such as damage or injury to spinal nerves, discs or bones. Sometimes back pain is linked to stress, anxiety and depression.
Recurring lower back pain can be prevented by the regular practice of specific exercises designed to strengthen the muscles which support your back, stretch shortened muscles and correct your postural alignment.
Exercising is beneficial for most conditions causing lower back pain. In case of acute back pain, the exercise program – except for very gentle stretching exercises – should be started only when most of the pain has subsided. Lying on a firm mattress and applying cold packs on the area for a couple of days will help relieve muscle spasm and pain. If your back pain is severe or is accompanied by numbness or pain down the leg, a doctor should be seen immediately.
I recommend doing the exercises first thing in the morning. If your bed has a firm mattress you can exercise even before getting up, if not, use an exercise mat on the floor. Each exercise indicates the breathing pattern. Synchronize the movement with slow and deep breaths. Keep the movement fluid. Gradually increase the number of repetitions, as you make progress over the weeks.
Should you wish to join an exercise class or start the regular practice of a sport to prevent or relieve lower back pain, chose low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming, walking or an exercise class which does not involve running and jumping. Water aerobics is a good choice, as well as exercising with the Gymnic Ball. Exercising with the Ball allows you to safely and effectively develop the strength of the muscles that stabilize and move the trunk, including the abdominals and muscles of the back. Not only does it develop their strength but also their ability to work in an efficient and coordinated way to maintain correct alignment of the spine while the body is in motion.
Stronger abdominals and back muscles, as well as improved flexibility, balance, coordination, heightened body awareness and corrected posture will help you protect your lower back in your daily activities.
It’s that time of year when many of us reflect on the fun we’ve had, the tears we’ve shed, who we’ve loved, beautiful moments we’ve shared, what we’ve learned, and the journey we’ve covered.
We begin to orient around how the year ahead will be meaningful to us, keeping us on path, satisfying for our mind, body, spirit, and soul.
I have been putting together visions and goals for the past 10 years, and my process has evolved and adapted, with influence from beautiful people, professionals, and psychological theories. So it felt time to share what I’ve learned and what works best for me.
Above all the most insightful, helpful, and truthful way to decide what I want to focus on—give my energy and attention to—is by asking my body. Taking time to settle into my cells, let my nervous system rest, my breath become natural, connect with my belly, heart, brow centre, and see what comes: images, stories, and memories. It is from here that our deepest, truest longings and wishes can show themselves to us.
Here are seven things that have worked for me in setting meaningful goals that actually work:1. A positive frame, set hopes rather than resolutions.
Several years back a dear friend and colleague shared that she doesn’t set New Year’s resolutions, she sets New Year’s hopes. I thought that was pretty revolutionary and wanted to try it. Switching from a resolve, which was often something not to do, to a hope, felt like it had less attachment or potential self-inflicted criticism and dismay when my resolve lost its strength and discipline.
Setting hopes brought some freshness and air to planning the year, a lightness and a sense of shared responsibility. Hopes were not only up to me, they were also up to anyone related to my hope, and what emerged with time. That worked for me. New Year’s hopes form the base of how I approach my vision and goals for the year ahead. The process seems to have got more and more creative and elaborate each year.
2. Take time to listen to the wisdom of your body.
It is important to start any prioritising or goal setting process with some still time, connecting to the wisdom of the body, and quietening the mind. I ask my heart, my belly, my cells, “What is most important for me? What is my spirit called to next year? What is my aliveness longing for?” You could do this out in nature—under the trees, by a river, or pond, or you could lie on the floor by a fire, meditate…whatever works for you! Do it for 15-30 minutes.
This process often reveals something unexpected. Once I got, “Dance as much as you can,” and, “Go and spend solo time in the Central American forest.” I did the process again a couple of days ago, to begin to orient myself toward 2018. I got images of community, circles of companions, and a beloved life partner walking with me in the healing green of nature. I had actually thought I was done with romance for a while and needed a year’s break. But, the deepest truest hope inside said, “Yes, this is what you want, in your own way, own style, but nonetheless, in a lifelong partnership with someone.”
3. Enjoy the process, get creative, do it in partnership.
A dear friend inspired me to do a vision board. We would set aside a day together in the first few weeks of January, gather our collective art supplies, turn off our mobile phones, drink herbal tea, and listen to beautiful music. Time would disappear—chatting, cutting, sticking, painting, drawing, writing.
4. Remind yourself every day in any way.
Sometimes I need another evening to finish my vision board, and then I stick it up on a wall that I see every day, take a photo, and make it the screen saver on my computer. And this is the key piece: Keep your vision and goals present in your mind as often as possible. Other good places to put your vision board are on the fridge, in the notes of your cell phone, or next to the mirror in your bedroom or bathroom. If you are someone, like me, who finds meaning and discipline through ritual, then adding in five minutes to your morning to review your hopes, vision, and goals is a great way to keep on track.
5. Right-size your hopes and goals.
There is a huge benefit to breaking down your hopes and goals into actionable chunks, with specific time targets, and a level of specificity to describe how you promise to be satisfied when reaching them. I learned this with the Strozzi Institute while doing my coaching certificate. The key is making sure you can realistically reach a level of satisfaction on your way toward your vision and hopes.
So, for example, one of my hopes that body strongly reminded me of, is to be in relationship with my life partner, and that involves finding him, testing the waters, growing in love together, and making the decision to stick with each other long-term. My goal in the next 12 months for this hope is to meet someone I can grow in love with.
I promise to be satisfied in 2018 if I take it slow and we spend time together nine times before getting intimate, if he likes to spend time doing his own thing, and has a healthy emotional and physical relationship with himself.
My actionable chunks are to prepare myself to keep my life going—even while sharing it with him. By June 2018, participate in a mixed gender group activity authentically enjoyable for me—once per week, practice clear dignifying declines so I can say no when I want to—once per week, tell my good friends, and family that I am ready and available—by March 2018.
With this, I have milestones along the year to work toward, and I have thought about what I specifically need to do to make this happen. We are each unique, like our fingerprints, and the edges we need to push, or changes we need to make to reach our goals and hopes will be unique, too.
6. Ask a friend to keep you on track.
And then the next steps are to share your vision board, hopes, and goals with your partner, mother, sister—whomever you trust, and can ask to support you. This is essential to keep you on track. We are often better at sticking to our commitments when we are accountable to someone else—this is partly why we pay for personal trainers, join a running club, or write books collaboratively. Ask your trusted friend to check in with you regularly—once a month perhaps—on how you are doing. You can even set up calls in the diary in advance to do this. I have done this with different friends for different commitments I have been working, scheduled monthly as “listening partner calls.”
Alongside this kind of support, you can also start to train your attention to focus on what you are grateful for, what inspires you to stick with your hopes and goals, what brings you joy and aliveness.
7. Write down your moments of wonderful aliveness.
One year a friend shared an idea to keep a jar of gratitude. This is a fabulous practice. I went out to buy a special blue vintage glass jar and used the back of old business cards that I collected from people throughout the year. I would write special moments I had experienced on each piece. I did this every so often, when I remembered, and so would write five to ten of them at a time.
At the end of the year, the day before or the morning of my vision boarding, I emptied the jar on the dining room table, and read through them all. Well, that put a “the cat that got the cream” smile on my face for the rest of the day—a real mood-lifter. I saw a clear pattern in what was creating joy in my life. I wrote these down to help guide my choices in the future, and my goals for the year ahead. They were intimate conversations, dancing, learning, time in nature, good sex, and healthy yummy food—when I get what my sister calls the food wiggles.
Knowing the importance of these kind of experiences in my life is a great way of setting the compass when I have to make hard choices or feel a bit lost. If you travel a lot you can use a little notebook instead of the glass jar at home. I’ve been doing that lately--it suits my nomadic lifestyle better.
And you can do this anytime of the year, whenever you feel the need. Going on a form of retreat can be a great way to give yourself the time, space, and support to vision.
Author: Lise Melvin
Image: Angelina Litvin/Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
published in Elephant Journal https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/12/the-most-insightful-helpful-truthful-way-to-decide-goals-for-ourselves/
Copy editor: Catherine Monkman
Social editor: Lindsey Block
Below is an article written by Caroline Rider about leadership with horses. The same attributes of leadership she writes about can be applied for leadership with people. Learning to master these attributes can be done by working with horses, who will give you an immediate feedback on how you are doing. Try out a session of coaching with horses with Jane. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to book your session.
Published on Sep 15, 2014
Hi, I’m Caroline Rider of Rider Horsemanship. This month’s Holistic Horse “Ask the Expert” Q&A is about leadership with your horse, specifically the qualities or attributes of leadership and how leadership needs to show up in us – how we need to act in order for our horse to notice us, take us seriously, trust and respect us.
The first attribute of leadership is purpose or focus. The second attribute is clarity. The third is fairness, the fourth is congruency and the fifth is consistency. All of these attributes are equally important to our horse and contribute to the overall emotional and societal welfare of our horses. Each of these attributes develops us into the leader our horse will recognize, take seriously (not challenge), trust and respect.Let’s now discuss the attributes, how they show up in us and why they are important to our horse.
The first attribute, purpose and/or focus, is about having direction – a goal in mind.
The second attribute is clarity and being clear. Horses are transparent meaning their actions reflect how they think and feel. This is what I refer to as the “Language of Equus.” Horses respond to humans the same way and if we are not sure about something the horse perceives this as uncertainty and becomes distrustful. Another way to look at clarity and the meaning of being clear is to have purpose - a goal in mind as well as fluidity, harmony, congruency.
The third attribute is about being fair. Fairness means being free form bias, judgment or discrimination. It also means having objectivity and not being personally attached to an outcome.
The fourth attribute is about being congruent. Congruency means “whatever you are thinking your body embodies.” This is another form of being harmonious and fluid. Your thoughts, feelings, are compatible with your actions. Meaning, you don’t think one thing and do another. This is very important to a horse as it represents clarity and consistency which are the building blocks of trust.
The fifth attribute is consistency. Consistency builds accountability and trust with your horse. They can count on you which in turn helps our horse to feel safe.These five attributes are the building blocks of leadership and what makes our horse not only want to be with they are what our horse needs.
Thank you and may you always be one with your horse! CarolinePlease visit www.riderhorsemanship.com for more education materials, DVD's, clinic opportunities, training and the TAO of Horsemanship Online Foundation Course.Leadership attributes.
In a previous post here on Nosara Wellness discussed "Why Does Anyone Do Yoga Anyways". There are many different reasons why people practice yoga. Some do yoga to improve their health, manage their stress better, or reflect on their inner selves.
But did you know that from the many yoga poses come techniques that can help you achieve beautiful and glowing skin? It's true, and even doctors like Dr. Timothy McCall agree that practicing yoga can make your skin look and feel younger.
Padmasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, and Dhanurasana are three of the poses that you can do regularly to beautify your skin. These particular postures are said to stimulate blood circulation in the body, while reducing stress and tension.
image credit: www.stylesatlife.com
Sit up straight on the floor with your legs stretched out.
Bend the right knee slowly, and use your hands to place it on your left thigh. The soles on your feet must point up, and the heels must be close to your stomach.
Then, do the same thing with your other leg.
With your legs crossed, and your feet placed on opposite thighs, put your hands together into a mudra of your choice. Normally, the hands are placed on the knees.
Breathe long and deep. Hold this position for a few minutes before releasing. Also, remember to hold your head straight and your spine straight as well while doing the pose.
Repeat the process with the other leg on top of the other.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
image credit: yogadork.com
Stand on all fours like you're imitating a table. Then, lift your hips gently and straighten your knees and elbows. Make sure that your body’s form is similar to an inverted V.
Make sure your hands are in line with your shoulders, and your feet in line with your hips. Also, your toes should point outwards.
Press your hands towards the ground and stretch your neck. Put your ears close to your inner arms while you position your view to your navel.
Hold the pose for a few seconds, bend your knees, and then return to the first pose, which is standing on all fours.
image credit: sarvyoga.com
First, lie on your stomach. Keep your feet apart and relax your arms at your side.
Then, slowly bend your knees and hold your feet.
Lift your chest and legs off the floor, and pull your legs back.
Hold the position for a few seconds while breathing long and deep.
If you find these poses easy, it’s worth researching some more complex poses.
Yoga is being practiced by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, and they're living examples of the age-defying benefits of yoga. The younger you start doing it, the better, but you can practice it at any age and reap the benefits.
Just look at the many celebrities who swear by yoga. They have amazing bodies, and look great even as they pass their 40s. David Beckham is one of the most prominent yogis on the planet, and he looks great even at 42. Interstellar and Magic Mike star Matthew McConaughey is also a keen yoga enthusiast, practicing it seven days a week.
Actress Alicia Vikander is also an avid yogi, using it to mediate and de-stress. Vikander is the female star set to play the latest version of Lara Croft in the 2018 remake of the film Tomb Raider. The movie, which has several titles on the digital platform Steam will once again start to take over the gaming world with its many incarnations. A Tomb Raider slot game has also recently appeared on gaming site Slingo in the lead up to what will no doubt be a Hollywood blockbuster and career-defining film for Vikander. And with such a hectic schedule ahead, Vikander will need yoga to help her focus on the many tasks at hand.
The original starred Angelina Jolie as the iconic femme fatale. If you always wondered how celebrities had such wonderful and flawless skin, then you don’t have to look any further than yoga to see how you too can reap the rewards from this meditative exercise.
Do you practice yoga in your free time and have any tips to share? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below!
click here to read this article about Aerial Yoga Instruction in Nosara, with Hayley MacMillan-Ord :
A physical therapist explains the therapeutic benefits of Pilates.
Click on this link or read below : http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/SignUp/RegDocFetchFile.aspx?BRID=52299570410111
Joseph Pilates has written that “physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” To enjoy and receive the full benefits of Pilates, understanding the application of the basic principles is imperative. It takes both time and patience for each of these principles to become a natural and inherent part of each movement. This is why Pilates is different from other forms of exercise, and can be so enjoyable, interesting, always challenging, and even addictive.
Awareness and Concentration
Developing a strong mind-body connection is an essential component of Pilates. It begins with learning about the body. There is never a sense of “going through the motions.” There is careful attention to each and every movement. The more you develop a strong sense of awareness, the more you will benefit from Pilates. Clients are taught the correct positions they should be in and how to hold those positions with movement such as in maintaining a neutral spine during leg work. Body awareness is also taught in regards to which muscles one should use and where to initiate a movement.
After a Pilates session, a client should feel “balanced.” More specifically, the client has completed a well-rounded exercise program that has worked on improving both strength and flexibility. There is great attention to the selection of exercises that would best address an individual client’s postural dysfunctions. After a class, in addition to feeling “shaky and worked,” clients will often say they feel taller and lighter on their feet.
While the benefits are enormous, teaching a client the concept of breathing during Pilates is not easy and takes time. Proper breathing is taught very early on in one’s Pilates practice, but the powerful benefits of breathing often are achieved much later in one’s practice. Pilates stresses posterior lateral rib cage breathing which emphasizes using the diaphragm muscle (the primary muscle of inhalation) and the abdominals (important spine stabilizers and assist with exhalation). Initially a client is focusing on so many things, but once the movements in the body are learned, more attention can then be put on breathing. The breath and the movement go hand in hand.
Centering oneself or focusing on one’s core is part of every Pilates movement. Each exercise begins with correctly tightening your core (originally termed the powerhouse) to stabilize and protect your spine. Many people are drawn to Pilates for this very reason—to strengthen their core to eliminate back pain or to improve performance in a sport.
Control and Precision
During Pilates, a client is always in control of her body and the movements she is performing. Because of this, Pilates can be a very safe and effective form of exercise for anyone. As Pilates movements become more advanced, the control of a movement becomes increasingly important. The end result is a very advanced exercise that looks easy and effortless. Emphasis is on precision of a movement and maintaining good form. The more precise one can be with a movement, the more one will benefit from the exercise. Once a client starts to lose good form, the exercise is over. Doing 6 repetitions of an exercise correctly, with good form, is much more effective than 15 repetitions with bad form.
Efficiency / Flow of Movement
Pilates has a strong focus on movement versus holding a pose or position. Throughout a class, there is constant movement from one exercise into the next. As a result, strength and stamina are developed. Many movements are designed to improve posture and lengthen the spine, improve flexibility of muscles, and mobility at joints. Harmony Good Pilates practice requires discipline. The outcome of this mind and body exercise is dependent on continuing to work on improving the flow of exercise, challenging oneself and developing a true sense of harmony and well being.
article by Mollie Fitzsimmons, DPT, MSPT, CPI, staff physical therapist and Pilates practitioner at Physical Therapy and Pilates Restoration LLC in Cheshire, CT.
Most of my Structural Integration clients come to me because of chronic pain. It may be a mild discomfort in the shoulders or neck that comes and goes. It might be a constant tightness in the low back that must be babied for fear of spasms. Sometimes their pain is so severe that it is debilitating. As each previously attempted treatment failed to give lasting relief, their frustration turned to resignation. Pain management, not resolution, becomes their goal. As a professional, these are the cases that I find especially rewarding. Through Structural Integration, these clients often gain a new lease on life –rediscovering what they thought was lost.
We All Have Chronic Patterns
Chronic patterns of tension and tightness are not the problem. We all have them. They support us and help us in everything we do. These chronic patterns develop based on how we use our body. A helpful
analogy for understanding their slow growth process is the shaping of a bonsai tree. The gardener will wrap a branch with metal wire and bend it in a desired direction. After several months, this metal splint can be removed and the branch will stay bent. The very structure of the branch, every fiber of the wood, has grown to support the branch in that state. The same happens within us. If we sit, stand, and act the same way, day in and day out, our body’s structure grows to support that use. Ultimately, we shape our chronic patterns.
What Puts the Pain in Chronic Patterns?
When our chronic tension patterns develop in an open and aligned state, they help to support and strengthen us. If they develop in a compressed and misaligned state, they weaken and destabilize us. Misaligned joints wear out faster. Chronically tensed muscles become knotted and grow trigger points. Nerves may get impinged, causing numbness or shooting pain. Breath becomes shallower and circulation is hindered. Our overall health and vitality suffers. These dysfunctional patterns grow within us, year after year, because of poor posture, a lack of bodily awareness, and confusion about proper body mechanics. It may take a decade for these patterns to become painful, but by the time they do, they are part of our very structure.
This Thing Called Structure
In Structural Integration, structure is a broad term used to describe our fascial web and its balancing relationship to our skeleton. The fascial web is an intricately woven fibrous web, made mostly of
collagen fibers, running throughout our entire body. In a sense, it is the leather in our bodies; designed to
hold long term. The fascial web organizes our tissues, keeps things in place, and connects everything to everything else. Any strain that has resided within your body for more than a few months is now held in
place by the fascial web. Your posture, your habituated movement patterns, and yes, your chronic pain are all maintained by your fascial web.
Structural Integration’s (I trained with Tom Myers and am certified in Kinesis Myofascial Integration) effectiveness at resolving chronic pain comes from its ability to loosen and rebalance the entire structure. Our chronic pain is always related to and maintained by a systemic, structural pattern. For example, chronic neck pain is often caused by a misalignment of the spine. A misaligned spine implies problems in the pelvis. And problems in the pelvis suggest uneven support from the legs and feet. The pain in the neck is a symptom of the way the fascial web is misaligning the skeleton. It cannot be resolved by addressing the neck alone. The solution must be in the context of the whole body. Otherwise the underlying misalignment that causes the neck pain will remain, eventually resulting in a return of the symptoms. In Structural Integration, no matter what tissue we are working on, it is always in the context of the whole pattern.
Taking the Pain Out of Chronic Pain
Structural Integration is a series of bodywork sessions (10-16 depending on the style, KMI consists of 12) designed to free up, lengthen, and align the fascial web. In each session we focus on a specific part of the body. By studying the client’s standing posture, I determine how that part of their fascial web is enabling the old, pain-inducing pattern. I then form a strategy for changing those tissues, using deep, slow manipulations, to provide support for a more functional, pain-free pattern. Each session builds on the next, enlisting more and more of your body to shift toward this new state.
The physical changes we make through Structural Integration give you the opportunity to use your body
differently. However, if that potential remains unclaimed, your habituated way of doing things will
persist. Therefore, as part of this process, you must search and explore your body between sessions.
Learn to feel and recognize the old habits and patterns. This gives you a base line from which to
recognize the new potential created at the table. Awareness is the beginning of change. As the series
progresses, more freedom and alignment in your body become available for you to experiment with.
You will discover new ways of using your body that are less taxing ways that are based on the new
Keeping Pain Out of Our Chronic Patterns
Imagine that you have completed the Structural Integration series. It has been a powerful growth process and you have learned a great deal about your body and how to use it. Your chronic pain is resolved, andyou have a new lease on life. What now? Will this last? Yes, but not through more Structural Integration work. Once the series is completed, a six to 12 month
break is required to absorb and integrate the work. Your homework is to simply maintain your improved
awareness and pay attention to your posture and body mechanics. Fortunately, your standing, sitting,
running, working, and playing are now based on an open, aligned structural pattern. All your future
actions will guide the development of your chronic pattern toward health and vitality. By the year’s end,
the changes gained will be integrated into the very fibers of your structure. Without much effort, you
will be able to maintain these pain-free results for years.
Eli Thompson is a licensed Massage Therapist, a certified KMI practitioner, and a certified teacher of
the School of Anatomy Trains (www.AnatomyTrains.com). He offers Massage Therapy, KMI Structural
Integration, and private Instructional Yoga classes in Brookline, MA. He also travels the country
teaching the Anatomy Trains – myofascial meridians intensives to Bodyworkers, Yoga practitioners, and
Personal Trainers. You can learn more at www.EliThompson.com, or by contacting Eli at 617-776-9494 or Eli@EliThompson.com.
In Costa Rica: 8342-8854
Pilates is a body conditioning method that works in a different way to other fitness techniques. It targets the deep postural muscles, by building strength from the inside out. Pilates rebalances the body by bringing it into correct alignment. The approach is slow and controlled, giving long term results.
Pilates is suitable for anyone, from the first time exercisers to Olympic sports people, helping re-shape your body, improving your posture and relieving stress and tension. It is particularly recommended by medical specialist for any one with back problems and is also an ideal regime for injury rehabilitation.
At Nosara Wellness we take exercise seriously. We know the benefits of proper exercise, but we also know the pitfalls of unsupervised, haphazard efforts. Our Pilates courses will give you a real understanding of the concepts behind this unique form of exercise. Our group classes will allow you to develop your proficiency in a controlled environment.
We recommend to begin with a one-to-one private session. Pilates offers both mental and physical training and this first private session allows the instructor to explain the basics in full, and to prepare you for mat work classes.
"The goals of therapeutic rehabilitation are similar to those of Pilates. Restored muscle function, balance, and range of motion are among the many shared objectives of these two movement-based therapies.
Joseph Hubertus Pilates delevoped the Pilates method in Germany more than 85 years ago to overcome such physical maladies as asthma and rickets. Extremely concerned about the impact of technology on the spine posture and breathing he sampled from diverse movement regimens and therapies that included yoga, self defense, weight training and gymnastics to develop his method of consicous muscle control.
What is Pilates ? A unique method of body conditionning that combines muscle strengthening and lengthening with breathing to develop the core of the body and restore muscle balance to the musculoskeletal system.
The core refers to the muscles that span from the rib cage to the base of the pelvis.
Pilates breathing facilitates extremity motion and natural movements of the spine on inhalation and exhalation. It also helps prevent Valsalva, promotes relaxation and encourages concentration.
Fundamental Pilates exercises emphasize stability while advanced exercises build on stability to promote mobility, balance, coordination, and muscle stamina.
In recent years Pilates mat exercises have been introduced with equipment that includes stability balls, small balls, exercise bands and foam rollers.
People who perform Pilates exercises can apply the principles of core training to everyday movements of life, work, and athletics.
Benefits of Pilates :
From "Pilates for Rehab, a guidebook to integrating Pilates in patient care", by Elizabeth Smith and Kristin Smith
I liked this article about the reason why people practice yoga. It explains some of the health benefits, but also how yoga can change your brain and really how in the end, Yoga is just a way to be in the present moment, to be mindful and open.
Read my new article for the Voice of Guanacaste : http://www.vozdeguanacaste.com/en/articles/2014/01/15/how-get-back-shape-summer