Monday, August 27, 2012

Where does life suck in your body

I've been working at improving my personal biomechanics for many years.  Those of you who have been around me for the last couple of decades might know that my left knee started acting up in the early 90s [probably talking to me long before that ] finally locking up in the mid-90s and STILL I managed to ignore it.

Now, no one would call getting rear-ended on the freeway good-fortune, yet in hind sight it most certainly was: it lead me to chiropractor and a physical therapist, neither of which i'd ever seen before in life.  During these encounters I came understand what was going on with some of my muscles and my knee.  Oh yes, and I was introduced to a homeopathic arnica gel concoction [a great thing to know about].

I'd studied pilates earlier in life and after the accident I took it up once again with a vengance.  It worked wonders for me.  My knee started working again.  I told everyone how to fix their physical problems through core conditioning!  I certified.  I taught others so my friends could be left in peace (well, once my student teaching hours were completed).  Skip down the road (well I could almost skip) a decade and while a well-conditioned core is a really good thing to have, I had to study Alignment/Restorative Exercise to get my knee back to a place where I can skip down the road [and I can].  I've been at the alignment thing for a little more than a year.

While I am pretty physical and do a lot of stuff, I am also pretty lazy.  It's precisely because I'm lazy that I love both my alignment practice and core conditioning:  because once you're on board with these concepts, life in general becomes easier and makes it possible to really enjoy all the rest of the time I'm alive in this body.

Life's better when your body works.  Can I get an amen?  No one likes doing the "100s" (well I don't know anyone who does).  And the first time one stretches muscle that's been ignored for longer than overnight, a uniformly pleasant experience it's not :o) In a relatively short period of time (my 500-hr. pilates certification took longer) I have come a long way toward being completely happy in my body and I'm in my sixties.  I'm not perfect and I don't even care how much farther I have to go, I'm so happy.  OK.  I'll shut up already about how happy I am.

Life's been trying lately.  I've lost my Mother recently. Other stuff.  And I realize that I deal with my emotional issues energetically [in my body].  A month ago I walked all the time.  Lately I fit this activity in if I can manage to push this immobilization out of the way.  It's as if I have been possessed by evil spirits who keep me playing sudoku for hours on end (I know, I could be eating ice cream, too).  Calf stretching?  Who has time?  All this to say:  when you find yourself in times of trouble, how do you react?  (as I type this I realize I could be walking instead of typing)

I'm back.  Ordinarily I'd edit this out of a blog BUT THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT of what I'm saying (and maybe just to myself).  We're meant to move. When you're not busy moving around, maintaining the goldilocks length of your muscles, they're tightening up, getting pulled out of alignment, gravity is deforming you, and it's not as much fun to be in one's skin.  (if you had a standing workstation right now you could be aligned and even stretching your calves while reading). And maybe you are but even if you aren't, thanks for reading. :o)  Think about the happiest times of your life, and I'll bet they're when you were doing cool stuff.  It's hard to sit still in enthusiasm.

And so we all go through stuff that bums us out.  I seem like a cool customer (I was raised in NYC where it's good to put on a united front) but when the going gets tough, my digestion slows way down, and my tight places get tighter.  Where are your tight places?  Are you into your 2nd hour gazing into a lighted screen?  Maybe it's time for a stroll.  At the very least, time to stand and stretch.  There.  That feels better, no? 

Life is sweeter when I'm able to be aware and in touch with myself in life's largest terms.  I go for a walk by the water's edge (SF Bay nearby) and I become aware of my place in this present earthly configuration.  Breathing's bigger and easier.  Oh, yes.  Body:  temple of the soul?  The nearer I get to the goldilocks place, the more sense that makes.

So how's your temple today?  Ribcage mobilizing as you breathe?  Calves got that long look and easy feeling?  The goldilocks thing all starts from the soles of your feet and works its way up.   Think I'll take a little walk.   Check the mail and my reciprocal arm swing.  :o) For the time being, I'm using any excuse.

And if you don't know anything about the aforementioned goldilocks thing, alignment, or restorative exercise (but would like to have more fun in your body) there is a bunch of great information available @ and a lot of great instruction available @  Come on over to Point Richmond for a class, or ask me to locate a REx practitioner near you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Think you're doing nothing?

Yeah.  You've read your email.  Checked your FB, your G+, who knows, maybe you tumble and tweet [I don't even know what the last two ARE] maybe you've played a half hour [or more] worth of games online, and NOW you're looking at my blog about alignment.  OK.  I'll try to be quick, so we can all log OUT and go for a walk.

While you're vegging (or perhaps you have a standing workstation for your computer-time which would be SO smart of you) at the computer and think it's only your brain and eyeballs and fingers that are working right now.

Well, surprise! You're always tearing down & building up your body's cells.  So even when you appear to be doing nothing, there's a whole lot of important stuff going on.  Your job (your real job) is to replicate every cell in your body, perfectly.  There are no ancient cells in your body.  You replace them every 7 years.   By the time you were 20 you'd done that successfully several times already.  As you're reading this you've probably done this many more since then.  Many cells are replaced faster, and you're mostly water anyhow (taking a sip, now) so you'll want to keep that supply pure and plentiful, no?

So what do you think?  When you were a kid, you had a lot of fun, learned new things, danced and swam, skipped and climbed (well, maybe you paddled a canoe), what I'm getting to is this:  maybe you have to move around a WHOLE LOT (get lots of blood circulating to ALL your tissues) on a regular basis to get that job done (the re-making of you) perfectly.  You did it just fine as a young person and let's face it, you weren't all that learned then, you just moved around a lot.  So maybe aging could be looked as: cells being replaced by one whose movement/circulation isn't sufficient to get the cells copied perfectly.  Maybe it's not just time on the clock, but how you're behaving as the clock is ticking.

It just may be how and how much you are in the habit of moving (lately; like over the last seven years) that determines how successful your cell re-creation (wouldn't want to call it recreation:  that makes it sound like fun :o) can be.  And even when you're old as me, moving all over can be a pleasure and as simple as going for a walk (& especially if you employ reciprocal arm motion).  Check back for the next installment:  the magic of reciprocal arm motion!!

I've been inching myself [for the last year or so] into better and better alignment.  My muscles are VERY happy to becoming ever-closer to their optimal length.  I'm getting dangerously close to standing up with legs absolutely straight and I'll be darned if I don't feel like playing and dancing and surfing (OK, I don't actually know how to surf) but I feel like I could [well, if the water were warmer hereabouts].

What I keep finding a complicated to say:  the better my alignment is, the more fun I find it to be in my body.  Core strength alone was not enough:  even getting pretty-darned-close to good alignment's made all the difference.  And if I could happen upon this starting my alignment adventure at age 60, imagine how easy it can be for you.

Come see me in at Body Wisdom Studio in Pt. Richmond for a class:  there are many.  Katy's coming soon:  check the A&W website!  I have colleagues around the world, and you can find one near you, here:  If you live on a mountaintop, there are a line of DVDs, a really good book, Katy's blog, plenty of resources to get you started on the road to feeling so good you'll want to run and jump, too.  Cartwheel.  Surf.  Shuffle off to Buffalo.

Enough.  I'm going for a walk and I'll probably do a cartwheel or two.  I may turn heads.  I'm an actor and I'm used to people watching me, I think I can handle that.  It's the blogging I find challenging!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Falling, Yes, I Am Falling......

Feel a song coming on?  Yeah.  Me too.  Good times :o)

My colleagues and I have put a lot of time and effort into studying how to achieve perfect alignment (because one's muscles think it is SO FUN). We observe ourselves and our clients before mirrors seeing a great many things:  there are so many different ways to hold unnecessary tension in the body and only ONE way to absolutely relax (and I'm not talking about vodka).

Being in natural alignment means you are not having to grip anything much at all:  everything's in it's natural placement and ready for you to make your next move.  And few of us (in affluent cultures) are there or anywhere near where you could see it with field glasses.

So you've read the book (and if you haven't, it's time) click here, you're stretching your calves and everything else that's tight and that's GREAT.  You rock :o)  Looking in the mirror:  weight's in my heels, check. Pelvis, shoulders, and head backed up and all stacked up perfectly.  Yay!  I've finally made it!  Whoo Hoo.  Too bad you're stuck in front of the mirror, cause when you get your shoes on (your minimalist shoes on) and take your act on the road, the tension's back. "I'm back :o)"

Let this be an amusement to you, but all this alignment study and stretching is pointing toward you being able to arrange yourself naturally and move through life that way.  Which may be a whole lot different from being able to arrange yourself successfully before a mirror....

We often hear reports that the old AND feeble complain their balance isn't good and they're afraid they're going to fall down.   I'd like to give them a shout out to validate their awareness of themselves and what's going on in their universe, because they are falling down.  What's different is they don't catch themselves as reliably as they once did.

Everywhere there's gravity, the act of walking [forward] is driven by posterior leg muscles.  (equal and opposite reaction, right?)  The same all over.  In Venice, the gondolier generates force back to move you forward. 
Paddling your own canoe, you push your paddle back to move you forward.  Well, walking is no different.  You stick your straight leg down on the ground and push back to move you forward.  Oh, no, wait.  You don't walk that way:  you kick your foot out in front of you and you fall on it AND your knee's bent when you hit .  Well, it gets us down the road, but at the expense of our delicate tissues.

If you were very clever, you'd stop falling and start locomoting.  For this to happen, you put your pole (leg) down on the ground and "pole back."  This moves all of you ahead where the inactive leg is dangling (ever so briefly) right beneath you.  You receive your body's weight on that straight leg which is at a right angle to the pull of gravity and you repeat the process on the other side.  Neither foot ever gets out in front of you and you are not at any time in the process, falling down.  This is especially because you swing the passive side's arm back to balance you out. (one day soon: link to a little movie right here)

This process depends on none of you getting ahead of any other part of you, which means for 'fallers' [like you]: quit leaning into it, get your weight back over the front of the heels (right where the bony bump on your ankle is-- which is why you want your weight there, btw) and for maximum enjoyment, supporting the body's weight on straight legs.  You think your legs are straight.  They're not.

If you were all aligned and un-grippy (well, BEING aligned means that all of you is un-grippy) you could walk across the Bering Straits, or the Iberian Peninsula, or a really long way (and our ancestors certainly did).  You'd maximize your output as you'd use your body as the designer intended.  You wouldn't dream of hauling composting cow manure in this, would you?

Or pee here:
Of course you wouldn't.  :o)

So now that you know it's un-clever to be falling instead of locomoting (and/or tooling around in your Tesla roadster), it's time to straighten up and fly right (& I don't mean in an air-chaise like in WALL-E).  

There's a long list of tissue damage that occurs when one's falling which doesn't occur when one's locomoting.  I was keenly aware  my knees weren't happy with me anymore as I had been falling-not-walking for six decades.  In the year or so I've been working on walking-not-falling through life I can testify that my body is a whole lot happier with my ever more natural alignment.  It might be an easier trip for you, but even if it's longer and more arduous, the reward will be the same:  a healthy body ready to respond to whatever your next move is....  tap dancing, anyone?
Betcha Ginger did a LOT of calf-stretching in her time....

Monday, June 4, 2012

For Princesses of all ages :o)

a true story

Princess Feet

A good friend introduced me to Katy Bowman's work on biomechanics and body alignment a couple of months ago, and I've found her work to be fascinating and incredibly helpful, not just for my own issues, but as a healthcare provider. Many of her posts on the importance of healthy body alignment and the effects of one part on the entire system compliment my own interest in the importance of  breathing technique and body position in working with issues such as pain, anxiety and decreased oxygenation, especially during recovery and physiological stress.

One of the subjects which Bowman talks about frequently is the importance of walking, squatting and the cascade of problems which positive heeled shoes can cause. I was never a big fan of heels, and have been carefully considering the angle of my shoes ever since. But my fashion sense has always been decidedly...unfashionable. I cannot say the same for Anya, and preschool girls have some very particular ideas about what to wear.

The Princess Years
Yesterday morning, my 4-year old daughter wobbled into the room wearing a princess tutu, a princess tiara and one of the 6 pairs of cheap plastic princess heels she was given for Christmas last year. I had thought she forgot about them when I buried them in the costume box, quarantining them from the real shoes. I have socio-political issues with girls and princess culture. My kids know that I hate princesses, know that I dislike that princesses rarely save themselves in stories, are considered special simply by the circumstances of their birth or because of their beauty. When I explained the problems of a monarchy vs. a democracy, Anya was the first to chime in that the people should decide who the leaders are. And yet. The princess culture in the preschool set is overwhelming, infectious, and all-consuming. The fixation with prettiness is problematic but workable; the conflation of "pretty" and "fancy" with "princess", and "princess" with the requirement of pretty above all else!!!1!- that is the spiral of death by pink for me.

When Anya wobbled in in that outfit, all smiles and pride in how pretty she was, I knew I had to pick my battle; all out War, Mom vs Princess was asking for an epic loss. I told her how beautiful the dress was, how impressed I was that she had created a whole costume for herself, and how beautiful she was when she was pretending to be a princess AND when she was being regular Anya. She asked what I thought of the shoes. I told her that I didn't like high heel shoes because the heels were no good for running and no good for the muscles, bones and the whole body.

She twirled for me a couple of times, then wobbled her way out.

Be free!
A minute later she wobbled back in and said, "Why are my pretty shoes not good for my body?" I know what to do with that kind of soft pitch! I leapt up and showed her where her hamstrings are, showed her how to feel them stretch, pointed out where they attached to the skeleton- we did a great activity using a little movable guy with rubber bands attached to his bones to represent muscles and how they move bone, which I'm just realizing I never blogged about- and she was fascinated. Then we lay down and held up our legs to look at the angle of our feet and how a pointed toe shortened the length of our hamstrings. I talked to her about how walking like that and never stretching them out would make the muscles get tighter and shorter, till it was so bad that our feet couldn't even get into a neutral position without some effort on the part of our muscles. And, by the way, our lesson on simple machines has totally come in handy- the kids now often differentiate between things that take work from our muscles and things that don't!

Next, I did some silly poses to try to show her how the whole body has to compensate for the forward lean of the body standing on heels. Katy Bowman's illustrations are better than my clowning around, but when your audience is 4, a little mama slapstick goes a long way towards remembering a complex lesson!

Anya wobbled back out to the living room, then returned, without the heels and said, in the most woeful voice ever, "But how can I have princess shoes if they are bad for my body?" I took her out to examine her shoe collection and tried to push the hot pink, turquoise glittered light up sneakers as sufficiently fancy for a princess. Anya was not impressed.

Then I had an awesome idea.

Princess Feet

"I think that princess FEET are even cooler than princess shoes, don't you?" She looked doubtfully at her feet. "I can make your feet extra fancy and special!"

I collected up red, pink and purple markers, a washable glue stick, gold glitter, and two colors of nail polish. I painted her nails and drew suns, hearts, flowers and swirls all over the tops of her feet, then rubbed some glue stick over the top and went to town with the glitter. She was beyond thrilled.

We went outside to test out her new princess feet. It turns out that not only are princess feet cool-looking and fun to create, but you can run in them way better than in high heeled princess shoes.

 We also did some careful scientific tests of climbing, playing, skipping and hammock pushing. Princess feet outshone princess high heels in all the categories!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Esteemed Colleague's excellent blogpost on alignment

Monday, May 14, 2012

The best things in life are free :o)

Stressful times.  If you’re not already rich, your net worth has likely taken a beating in the last little while.  Dang, Jim.  For most of us, enriching one’s existence will likely be headed in the “inward” direction, not in the acquisition of cool toys.  My Tesla will just have to wait for me.  And that’s not entirely a bad thing.  What the greed heads don’t want you to know (or feel) because when you do, then you don’t need to buy anything:

The Best Things in Life are Free  :o)

(I feel a song coming on) A genuine smile shared, holding your baby in your arms, a moment to reflect, taking a walk in the sunshine OR on a rainy day and jumping in puddles, or __________(your good and free thing goes here).

For the moment, oxygen is free, so take a deep breath and notice:  are you creating downward pressure on your Pelvic Floor in so doing?  If you move your ribcage to bring air in, make the cavity larger-changing the air pressure-outside air rushes in, downward pressure doesn’t happen.  Huh?

If you ride a horse, the next time you dismount:  notice that their entire ribcage expands as they breathe, it’s not just their belly reaching down to the ground and back up again.  If you toss a stick or a ball to your dog, once they’ve fetched it back to you and set it down, check it out: their entire rib cage grows all over for respiration. The ribcage is a moveable affair.

Put your hands on your own ribcage and see if you can give them a ride away from each other when breathing in deeply.  Breathe into those hands:  booyah!  See?  You can "ride" your hands in and out using the muscles in and around your ribcage. 

Soon, we’ll see swimmers race in the Olympics.  Their ability to compete successfully has a great deal to do with how much oxygen they can take in repeatedly:  the ability to move their rib cages.  After the race is over and they’re hanging poolside or on the ropes, check them out:  their backs are big – the ribcage goes all the way around.

Maybe you don’t partake in competitive sport.  You may take something else seriously, encounter other daily stresses.  In a stressful time [or when you’d like to remain separate from one] give your hands a little ride:  a couple of good, deep breaths.  It’s so relaxing.  And relaxed is where you do your best stuff:  like dancing or singing in the shower or ____________ (your best stuff goes here). 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Adult diapers: are you in? (know someone who is)

I think it's pretty clear that anyone who's outgrown them, does not want to return to wearing diapers.  Yet there are football and tv stars advertising them on tv in primetime:  expensive time.  That means the market for this item is BIG.

So many of us spend lives with our butt permatucked (a technical term) and it ain't natural.  Gentlemen and women, influenced by a 'civilized' culture, that sticking your bottom out isn't done, "tuck" them and in so doing set off a chain reaction of tension traveling throughout the body.  Think: tossing a pebble in pond.

Sitting for long periods of time [all day?] [got an hour commute to add to that on either end] exacerbates the situation.  Your hamstrings are way tight, (another technical term) from being asked to do nothing all day long, and while seated, the weight of your torso is jamming that sacrum in from the bottom. We're designed to sit on our ischial tuberosities, where the sacrum can assume its natural position.

So you say, "what's the big deal, I'll do my downward dog, and stretch those hamstrings, all right already."  Sure.  But your pelvic floor is muscle and it's the only thing keeping your guts up inside you and not falling out on the floor. Your PF is attached to different spots in the pelvis, one of which moves: the sacrum.  If it's jammed in on the bottom, there's slack in the PF muscles created only by the narrowing the obstetric conjugate (the shape is slightly different in men, but is the functionally the same). The PF muscle which used to be serviceable is now hanging like a hammock.  The muscles shorten and tighten in an effort to remain structurally useful, yet if the angle is extreme, you're out of control.

Your doctor (who's likely forgotten any of the biomechanics he/she may have studied in college) recommends kegels to you, so you can strengthen your pelvic floor, failing to realize that the tissues are weak not because they're lazy, but because they are not physically able to shorten any more than they already have.   Not too loose: too tight! 

Your entire body is amazing and it moves just as you ask it to.   Were we a people who squatted for toilet affairs we would not have these issues.  The places in the world where people still squat for eliminations have no need of diapers.  And they're definitely not tucked, as the tucked squatter sends their business between their feet (and those desiring to leave some items behind will be UNtucking their pelvis, no?) 

Developing your ability to squat and stick your tail out (and one ought to be able to maintain this position for as long as is necessary) will restore their obstetric conjugate to its natural ratio/relationship to the rest of the pelvis and your pelvic floor will (magically) be able to function normally once again.

Surgery doesn't work for long, so if you're dealing with pelvic floor issues your choice is simple.  Start asking your rear end to behave naturally or start shopping for diapers.

And if I've piqued your interest in restoring your body to its natural vibrant state, come see me or my colleagues in lovely Pt. Richmond for classes in Restorative Exercise.  And if you're not nearby, don't worry.  There is much instruction available on line, a line of DVDs, a great book on Fixing your Feet (they're where the rubber meets the road) all available at

Monday, April 16, 2012

the Hurry Cane. Really?

How about learning to use the hurry canes that were issued along with the rest of you?  They're ever so handy and they're always there when you need them :o)  The graphics in this commercial are great.  The stick, the leg.  The bend at the knee.  Oh, that's right.  What's so useful about the Hurry Cane is that the middle doesn't bend.  That's why you'll need/buy it.  It's so handy!  You don't have anything that will do this...oh wait.  You do.  Your LEGS.

OK that sounds a little sarcastic.  Sorry.  People suffer traumatic injuries and require all manner of TEMPORARY assistance in such times for the miracle healing machine to get itself back to Go.  Your very own pair of hurry canes are designed to serve you for a lifetime.  And you can decorate them a whole lot better than you can the hurry cane offered on tv.

Long term use of your body parts outside of what's delineated in the owner's manual can be deleterious to your health and well-being, so you'd be clever to inform yourself.

My sixty seconds are almost up, so instead of purchasing something additional which you'll soon stuff in the hall closet, why not take a peek at the owners' manual at  Your own hurry canes will be glad you did :o) and you will too, as the better you feel the more fun you can have. In fact, when your body feels good you can have a whole lot more of whatever it is you want:  good time or bad.  Sweet, no?  Here's where my journey into these good times began.  Thanks, Nancy!  See you soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alignment: what it means [to me]

what's found in the dictionary : 1. To arrange things in a straight line or 2. The process of adjusting parts so that they are in proper relative position.

If you're going to align dominoes so you can break the world's record of greatest number of dominoes progressively knocked down, you will of course have to pay a lot of attention to alignment (and not sneezing).  You'll make curves and be careful that the forward motion of each will impact the one that's in front of it at least enough to send it forward into its' neighbor.  Alignment is very important to this endeavor and probably making sure all your dominoes have a nice square bottom on which to stand (no wobbly dominoes thank you).  

If you're stacking blocks, the straighter you stack them vertically, the higher you're able to build.  Aligning them perfectly one atop the other makes them most stable.  Where you're slightly off center, that's going to be where the toppling occurs.  You align the blocks to successfully oppose the force of gravity.  This definition of alignment clearly presents the good reason one's knees ought to be straight as opposed to having a slight bend:  as soon as you bend even a little bit, you're going down, my friend.   The only way to stop going down is for there to be muscles gripping somewhere and that sets off a chain reaction of needless tension even when you're standing still and take it on the road the unnecessary gripping possibilities expand exponentially.

The second part of the definition is the one I find myself plummeting through these days:  the process of adjusting MY parts so that they are in proper relative position.  We didn't cover this in Physical Education school (but we could have).

I'm a singer and I have developed the ability to listen really well.  I've come to think of it as good relative pitch:  I know where to place my sound relative to what others are playing or singing.  Anyone can easily tell when it's working, as it sounds good.  Conversely, anyone can tell when it's not working so well, as it sounds SO bad.  Puhleeze make it stop!!

Properly relating one's body parts could be looked at this way, also.  When you're in optimal alignment you are feeling really good and your miracle body can do whatever you ask it to.  If you're reading this, you probably carry a bunch of tension places it's not required:  places that are tight.  When the muscles stabilizing a joint are not fit for duty (too loose or too tight) the joint they're meant to serve becomes compromised and over time its capacity to move in the manner it was designed becomes impaired. Oweee.  Hello tightness, heat, friction, swelling, arthritis. 

For me, and for many others this process of relinquishing joint wellness remained a mystery and I'd thought there was nothing I could do about my knees but sit down and shut up.  Decades of poor relative positioning of my upper and lower leg had put my knees in an awkward and finally painful position.  Enter Restorative Exercise, the Alignment Markers for Optimal Body Function and I'm re-writing the story of my knees.  The reversal of my fortunes has been astoundingly rapid and I started the process in my 60s!  If you're still breathing, you can do it, too.

I'm a Pilates instructor too, and a well-conditioned core really DOES make everything better, but concentration on correct relative positioning of one's parts has brought my picture of wellness into living color.  My body tells me through muscle tension what's right (feels good) and what's wrong (doesn't feel so good).  It's simple.  Perhaps simpler for me as I have a mobilized ribcage already and maybe you don't.   

Going barefoot makes my knees (and the rest of me too) happy and putting on the high heels for a glamorous appearance somewhere feels just so stupid, now.  Who'da thunk it?  Getting the alignment picture and how it's going to help you stay healthy for the rest of your days is the most important part and you can start right now:

Katy Bowman has set everything you need to know down in black and white.  Much of what I've been doing is presented in her book,

Every Woman's Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet

(& it works the same for guys, too)  You can also spend some time on her website and enter into the conversation via her blog: KatySays which you'll find at   You can talk to me, but, hey, she wrote the book!  You may feel the need of a personal tour guide and that's where I (and other Alignment Specialists) come in.  We're here to lend a helping hand and our numbers are swelling.  There's probably one of us practicing near you.

You might be saying, "Well, it's my _____ that hurts, not my feet." But, think about the blocks.  If the block on the very bottom isn't solid, you're not going to stack very many blocks:  they're going down.  This is where "the rubber meets the road," and feet have the greatest affect on your ability to hold your body as the designer intended, along with the ability to move through life that way.

Object to the high cost of healthcare?  Have no need: understand these concepts.  Aside from avoiding toxic exposures in our environment and from the food we ingest, our miracle self-healing machine:  our bodies, if aligned in the manner intended, will heal magically and serve us faithfully until we're done with it.   :o)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Have joint pain?

Today's newsletter/email of the day from a good doctor talks to me about exercise, joint pain and the supplements he'll sell me to help with my joint pain.  Yet joint pain is a thing of the past when one is able to align body segments as the designer intended.  When you stack your body up so you're perpendicular to gravity (stand up straight), you don't need to grip any one muscle:  they're all  "live" and ready for your next move.

Happy muscles are those which are capable of both generating force AND stretching.  To be capable of this they need to hold themselves at a happy 'medium.'  There is a "goldilocks" place for your bones (and the muscles which support them) and if you habitually hold yourself in a manner counter to that, you get muscles which must become either too loose or too tight.  Muscles work antagonistically, meaning that when muscles on one side flex, the ones on the other side you can see it's pretty simple to assume a position which compromises the way your joints feel over time.  Tight hamstrings, anyone?  Tension in your neck and shoulders?

My joint pain has been in my knees, indicating (which I nonetheless ignored) that there was muscular weaknesses around the joint:  but instead of listening to the cues my genius body was sending me, I did nothing.  Unable to wait for me to come to my senses, my body adapted to the weakness by tightening up and I pretty much relinquished most of the functionality of that knee. Which, by the way, had an effect on all of me.

Enter Restorative Exercise, my great awakening. The more upright I become, the nearer I get to having straight legs, the better my knees feel.  I believe that strengthening my hamstrings was a big part of the equation but you could also say it is a matter of lengthening my quads & adductors and they'd both be right. The prescription is:  whatever you need to do to align yourself to oppose the force of gravity with ease.

It's a complex issue, as whatever part of you that's out of whack affects everything else.  When one muscle's too tight, it's not as if everything else can just 'let that be.'  For you to get on with your day, every other muscle has to make an accommodation for the tight/weak muscle you're not addressing.

I recently injured the fourth toe on my left foot swinging a door open onto it after a yoga class.  (Man!  that smarted. )  :o(  Even putting my five finger shoes on was tricky & what does my neck and shoulders have to do with the end of my toe??? The response to this little event was whole body - every step could be felt right up through my shoulders and neck:  how could I avoid hurting this toe more?  My entire body seemingly had to tense up to make it happen: to favor that toe.

Maybe you have some sexy looking shoes that produce a similar effect.  Trust me, the shoes don't make you look so sexy when you're all hunched over, (maybe you just have to wear your shoulders a little higher and a bit forward for now) but you know you're headed in that direction if you feel it in your knees when you descend a staircase.... (can I get an Amen?)

Time to straighten up and locomote right.

Restorative Exercise to attain optimal alignment:  it's the right thing to do.  Or the upright thing to do.  What the Designer intended.  Don't find those declarations compelling?  It feels really good too.  :o)

Oh yeah: as if saying goodbye to joint pain weren't enough, being in proper alignment (and moving through life that way) helps all your cells function optimally, too:  your blood moves smooth and easy (tight muscles = poor circulation), which brings the good stuff in and carries away that which is no longer useful.  Which is why a massage feels so good on tight muscles:  a little blood flow brings in the good stuff and releases the bad.  Ahhhh.

You could arrange yourself so you feel as if you just got a massage all the time.  That's my personal goal.

Friday, March 23, 2012

You are a wonder

And so am I.  The human "machine" is so amazing: and it's designed to take care of itself.  Given a chance it creates a beautiful now for you to enjoy and does this over and over and over.  You're constantly recycling yourself:  taking cells offline, throwing them out, and replacing them with brand new ones:  perfect copies of the old ones and they go right to work doing just what they're supposed to.  AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN AWARE OF IT.  Your body just does it.

So what?  Well, what this means is it is never too late to create your happy body.  Since you're always building the new one, you can remove impediments one by one until one day you'll be in a pain-free body: ready, willing, and able to do what ever you feel like.  Even if you're someone who has trouble getting your shoes tied, you are replacing your cells at exactly the same rate as the cover girl on Mademoiselle (do they still print Mademoiselle?) magazine.  So you can make significant changes to how much fun you have while occupying the amazing body you've created.

Your body is designed to "right" itself.  Cut your hand, some blood will dry there to form a scab, covering the hole you just made.  It does that automatically.  If someone opens the window and you get chilly, you'll get goose bumps and your hair will stand up to help trap air around your body to help maintain its temperature: an insta-sweater, if you will.  The "operations manager" of your body has been on the job for as long as you've been breathing.  It works flawlessly and coordinates an extremely complex system.  And you don't even have to think about it:  it just happens.

You are the CEO of this glorious configuration you know as your body.  Your major concerns might be:

1. Fuel:  Your body can get by on just about anything at all (also miraculous) but is happiest when its nutritional needs are met amply.  I won't talk about nutrition. Once you're 'in touch' with your body, it's going to TELL you what it likes to eat if you're listening.

2. Rest:  You can likewise get by on too little sleep, but consistently getting enough rest is a major component of establishing conscious awareness of how you're doing physically, so you can "hear" your body's communication when it tells you "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired."  Many of us confuse these messages and eat when we're tired (or in response to other stimuli).   Sometimes you're tired, not hungry, and you CAN know the difference.  Your body is talking to you,  are you listening?

3. Activity:  The difference between youthful vigor and where you are right now is how you move and how much you move your body; habits you have developed.  To move or not to move; this is the question.  Your body can get by with very little movement (did you see Wall-E?) but is happier when it's moving and happiest when it's moving a lot.  If you have pain in your body:  your body is talking to you, are you listening?  If you get yourself moving in the designer-specified manner, you'll be using your body in a manner which optimizes it's functionality.  Moving will become less and less painful and more and more fun.

Knees hurt?  Pharma would rather sell you a pill.  The doctor/specialist would rather replace your parts; to them surgery is cool.  I'm here to suggest that you are supremely well-equipped to fix/maintain yourself all by yourself.  There are a few things to learn but they all make good, common sense and you can absolutely understand and do them.  Yes, you can.

I know you can because are a wonder.   (Even the idiot on the freeway who cut me off yesterday is a wonder).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life's more fun when your body works right

How can I know, you may ask.  And you'd be right to ask.  This blog is primarily what I've learned about the care and feeding of your miracle fun machine, and what you can do to straighten up and fly right.

My teacher, Katy Bowman, is a pioneer in education about the body and how it works best; because there is a 'Goldilocks' place that you can hold your body in, and when you're there, you've gotten out of your own way and your body (your very own miracle fun machine) will do as you direct it and pretty much take care of itself until the day you drop dead.  You're growing up but you don't have to grow old if you hold yourself per the designer's instructions. 

If you're an A-type, you'll want to go to her webpage,

I will be drawing material from this source often, as well as from the greater alignment community (an exclusive club of really smart men and women who've seen the light).  You (and I, too) don't need to exercise EVER, we have only to assume a natural, upright stance and move as the designer intended:  naturally.  I typed that sentence pretty easily, but it'll probably take you a bit of doing to get yourself stacked up in this naturally healthy manner:  where you don't have grip anything, and all your muscles are free to do what they're supposed to do, which is to be ready for your next move....