Time to think, reflect and educate…

Luckily for me confinement has not meant that I have had to give up working and in fact it has opened up new possibilities that I thought just werent there before. With this in mind I decided that during this time I would focus more on how I teach and educate myself through online courses and workshops that have been made available to me as a Body Control Pilates Teacher. In this way I will be able to bring even more knowledge and continue to evolve my teaching to help benefit all of my clients, old and new.

Last week I attended an online class and webinar called ‘Fearless Spine’ taken by Cameron Angus, a renowned pilates teacher, international lecturer, physio and all round awesome guy. If you’ve ever suffered from back pain you will know the fear that comes from doing a movement or NOT doing that movement because you know its going to hurt, in this way you have probably started to stiffen up your body by doing less movement, thereby increasing the fear of movement in your brain. Recently, I have suffered some mild discomfort in my back and I have had to overcome that very natural impulse of my body telling me not to bend over and pick things up or not twist around to see whats behind me. Its hard to overcome your initial impulse and I know that I am fortunate that I have had the education that becoming a Pilates teacher has given me. It turns out the pain in my back is actually referred from my hip and by doing specific Pilates exercises to help my hip, the muscles in my back have released and reduced the pain. The place that we suffer the pain is not always the place where there is an issue.

Your spines are NOT fragile they are an amazing structure that enable us to move in all sorts of directions. We need to keep them moving!!

Now don’t get me wrong there are certainly some medical conditions where certain movements are not recommended, ie osteoporosis and ankylosing spondylitis, to name just two, but one thing I know for certain is that for lower back pain, movement helps ease that pain.

Flexion/Extension/Rotation/Lateral flexion are all SO important for your spine and even better lets put some of them together in exercises. Lets get twisting, turning, bending and reaching in exercise classes whatever they may be. After all, in real life we dont do everything on one plane of movement. We need to be strengthening and challenging our bodies in all postitions while we are exercising so that when we do things in real life your body doesnt suddenly go, ‘oh no I cant do that or my back will hurt’.

Pilates is an amzing form of exercise that has the ability to lengthen, strengthen, mobilize, and free your body to move it in whatever way you want. My aim in my classes has always been to bring joy back into movement. So if you’ve been suffering in silence, get in touch and lets free your mind and your body and give it permission to move!!

“A man is as young as his spinal column….If your spine is stiff at 30 you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”

Joseph Pilates

Breathing….the essence of life and a fundamental part of your Pilates skill

Breathing is the first act of life, and the last

Joseph H Pilates

At a time when we are being hit with a virus that effects the respiratory system I have found myself focussing on one of the fundamentals of Pilates – Breathing. How I breathe and how I teach people to breathe whilst moving. Breathing is an automatic process that most of us dont think about however learning to breathe properly will not only improve your ability to do exercise but it will also improve the health of your lungs.

To breathe correctly you must completely exhale and inhale, always trying very hard to squeeze every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth.

Joseph H Pilates

If you come to my classes you will have heard me saying dont forget to breathe! Normally I say this when someone is holding their breath and going red in the face! Many of us hold our breath while doing exercise which impacts our ability to do the exercise. We may find that we breathe shallowly or much faster than we should. If we breathe shallowly we are using only a fraction of our lungs thus reducing the supply of oxygen and thus also reducing our energy levels.

Learning how to breathe correctly is one of the fundamentals of Pilates. Breathing exercises are also used in meditation and to break up a period of anxiety. Currently there are many people feeling anxious of what is to come so I thought that I would share a couple of exercises with you that you can do at home.

Scarf Breathing – you will need a chair and a scarf or stretch band.

  • Sit or stand tall and wrap the scarf or stretch band around your ribs – make sure that it is not too low and is spread over the backs of your ribs, crossing it over at the front. Hold the opposite end and gently pull it tight (not too tight)
  • Inhale through your nose – As you breathe in focus on the backs and sides of your ribs, where your lungs are located. Your lungs will gradually fill and expand your ribcage. Do not force this movement as it will create tension. Keep your shoulders relaxed
  • Exhale through your mouth – As you breathe out you will feel the air gently being pushed out fully, right to the bottom of your lungs. You should feel your ribcage beginning to close as your lungs empty.

Do not puff your cheeks or purse your lips during the exercise as this will create tension in your jaw, face and neck wasting energy. Also make sure that you do not over-breathe, it should be natural, easy pace.

Relieving anxiety – you can stand, sit or lie down doing this exercise, most importantly you should be comfortable. You may want to close your eyes (please make sure you are not standing if you do!!)

  • Inhale through your nose for the count of 4
  • Hold for the count of 4
  • Exhale through your mouth for the count of 6
  • Repeat as many times as you like

If you find it hard to inhale for the count of 4 you can change this to 3 and then exhale for 5. You will find the more you do this the longer you can inhale for.

My classes are carrying on over the internet through this time of lock down so if you are interested in joining any of them please contact me for more information.

Stay safe and well.

Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body

Thich Nhat Hanh – Vietnamese Monk

Pilates Classes to carry on…

In light of recent government decisions I have decided to change the way I run my classes. They will NOT stop but I will be teaching via Zoom, a video conferencing online service, for the forseeable future.

What does this mean for you?
You will need to sign in from home on your computer/laptop. I will be sending out meeting invitations to everyone.

How much will it cost?
Nothing more than your usual monthly membership

Will the classes change times?
My plan is to keep the same times as my current classes, I may even add some more times, subject to demand.

What will I need?
All you will need is a mat, or towel if you dont have one. Also if you use a head cushion normally a small folded up towel will work instead.

The class will of course be slightly different as I wont be able to correct any alignment issues however I know all your bodies quite well and I will be able to watch as you do the exercises. If you have any questions please do not hesiate to contact me either by phone or email.

If you are not one of my regular clients but would like to join in please contact me clicking on this link – CONTACT