Now just Breathe...

Breath is one of the most important processes of our body and yet do you think about breathing? It is the first thing we do and the last event that happens in life. It is so natural and yet we so take it for granted. I did for so long that I’m now seeing the possibilities in using it to my benefit.

Back track a few years. So I was aware of my breathing, but only when I was doing Yoga or how I used it to sing or when I was running, not in how it was changing my body or how I was allowing it to change my body. Meaning, breath was only important to me when I was doing something that required a particular breathing pattern and even in saying that, I wasn’t paying attention to how it effected my body. It was used as a way to increase my speed or sing a longer note or relax into a pose, that was it. And although those things aren’t bad and that’s not to say I wasn’t using it properly, there just wasn’t any mindfulness and I was only practicing when I felt like it.

Recently I have spent some time just breathing and working on breath training and manipulation and I’m so amazed at how capable we are of changing, manipulating and controlling it and then just allowing it be normal. I’ve known we can do these things even was trained how to do this in yoga, but it didn’t really hit me that my body was struggling to breathe. To find space in the breath and in the mind. You see when you work on controlling and manipulating the breath through means of inhaling and exhaling through the nose, you slow the breath and when you control breathing into your ribs verses your belly or put focus into these spaces, you control so much in the body. Movement is so important to health, but the breath can help make those movements controlled movements, mindful movements. And does that breath help slow the nervous system or speed it up? Of course! In certain situations even in controlled breathing, I was hyperventilating, which was bring my nervous system higher and my anxiety up. But when I slowed my inhale counting and exhale counting, I slowed my nervous system and my anxiety went down.

Breath is not just something the body needs, it is to me one of the most important functions of the body. Breath can increase and decrease the nervous system, it can help with weight loss, it can help quiet the mind, it can help with meditation, it can teach the body to pull into itself when shallow and it can also give openness by inhaling fully and exhaling fully. Did you know that the breath actually can help with spots of stickiness and soreness, meaning spots that are not moving or areas in the body that are being held by tension. Breath can actually cause a release in the body that nothing else can. Something that most don’t talk about is the holding of the breath. Holding the breath can be a strategy for control, it can be important when in water, but also training for how to slow the breath and slow the nervous system or control a movement.

There is so much more that we can do with the breath and breathing. So take the time to sit and breathe and see what you notice. You might find that it is way more important than you realize.

Thank for taking the time to read my blog. Please let me know if you have questions or comments. This is only a small clip of what we can do with breath and I would love to show you more.

Let's think Feet!

Do you really think about your feet that much?  Ask yourself if you pay attention to the shoes you put on or how your feet move when you walk or how much weight is actually on those feet? 

Recently I have been thinking of my feet a lot more, as I am suffering from Hallux Rigidus (or arthritis in the big toe) and some nerve pain set off by tight ski boots.  The long and short of it, is a whole lot of foot pain brought on by years of high impact running and some not so great shoes.  So it got me thinking, do we really pay that much attention to our feet and the major role they play in our alignment or posture and because of the pain in my feet, is that causing pain in other areas of my body.  Why yes, yes it is!  Now I will tell you I do a lot of standing and a lot sitting, but I spend a fair amount of time moving and stretching my feet, as I have had off and on pain in the heel and ankle from plantar fasciitis for years.  Before I continue, I want to give you some fun facts of the feet.

When you run, your impact is as much 3x your body weight.  So if I'm 135 lbs, that is 405 lbs of impact. That is about the size of  Welsh Pony, just saying.  The foot has 26 bones(which is a 1/4 of the total bones in the entire body). You have 33 joints and more than one hundred muscles, tendons and ligaments.  If any one part has a structural flaw or malfunction it can effect another part of the body such as ankles, knees, hips or the spine. And vice versa, if any part of the body is out of alignment within those parts(ankles, knees, hips, and spine)it can effect the feet.  So in short, the feet are really an important part to alignment, posture, and being pain free all the way up to the spine.  

So when you have damaged your feet unknowingly and now you just want to be pain free, what do you do?  There are a few things in Pilates that can help.  Joseph was not stupid about this part of the body and amazingly enough he created a little device called the Joe's toe Gizmo(available at pilates.com) and the foot corrector also available on pilates.com.  I also use a couple of half yamuna foot awaking balls and they help bring circulation back into the feet.  These are pretty inexpensive on amazon.com.  However, doing footwork on the Reformer, chair and caddy are great for the feet and just walking barefoot once in a while also helps to strength the foot, but walk with thoughtfulness on how the foot lands, if you land on the lateral (outside) arch or walk to the medial(inside) arch.  This all effects the function of the foot and alignment of the whole body.  I, also, do toe raises focusing on lifting the big toe separate from the other four toes, remember when doing this to press into all three points of the foot(the heel, the big ball and the pink side little ball) and spread the toes wide.  Heel lifts are great too and try some standing footwork, which really stretches the out the achilles, calf and ankle.  Ask me for any other exercises as there are a ton.  

In conclusion,  Please be nice to your feet and remember them when something is hurting because it might just be something in your feet and you might just need to give those feet some love!   

P.s.  Just a note, I am not advocating anyone that is a runner to stop or that running is bad for you,  just maybe pay attention to your foot fall and alignment.  :)

P.s.s.  I promise this is the last! :) I want you to know that I didn't address other foot problems as that was not on my blog list today.  I will address more in the coming posts.  Thank you for checking out my blog and please feel free to comment.   Have a happy feet day!   XO Gi

 

Benefits of Pilates- My story

Hi All!

My journey starts about 14 years ago, while living in small town Iowa.  I saw a sign in a massage shop for learning Pilates.  So I gave the gal a call and started my 5 sessions learning pilates.  It was mat based and her space was small, she gave me a print off of the exercises which was nice, but we never really went very far with it.  She had a reformer that I'm pretty sure her husband had made for her, we used that only once. Never really enjoying the experience.  6 month later, I found a book on Mari Winsor pilates and decided to take this on at home.  Mari's descriptions were good and I finally started to enjoy and see some improvement, however, home based, on your own exercise never goes very far for me and I ended up loosing interested. Going back to running full time. Did I mention that I have run for 35 years, taking a break only for a couple of months in between.  Back to Pilates.  Fast forward about 7 years, I become a member of a gym in Omaha, NE. They had a pilates studio and I began privates, I was also training for a couple of 1/2 marathons and getting ready to take on a full.  The pilates instructor was good, but did not have a great understanding of the body and injuries and I ended up more sore than not. So I removed that from my training and went to a personal trainer.  I should note here that poor instructors who don't understand the needs of an individual will lose clients.  I have found this to be true in my own instructing and I think it important to keep up of your education and know the body. Fast forward  4 more years, we move to Denver, I find a studio across  Washington park and I start taking pilates.  I decided to continue to run and train for another 1/2 marathon. Full marathon was just too much on my body.  I start taking pilates twice a week at The Pilates Studio and love it. All of Kim Kolesar instructor are great.   I feel better, but am still running and finish my final run, completing the Denver Rock N Roll Half.  My time was about the 20 minutes slower than my last 1/2, I'm very disappointed, but my hip hurt the entire race and now it takes me six weeks to recover as my whole right hip, back and leg down to my toes are in pain. I go to the doctor, no help, see physical therapist, no help,  start seeing a chiropractor and I start to see some help and pain starts to alleviate itself. She gives me some exercises and I start taking Pilates more serious. I see real change from the Pilates.  However, I am done running and when I try to run the pain returns.  We do an mri and find out I have scoliosis and degeneration in my L5 - Sacrum and I find out I have arthritis in my feet especially my toes.  In between all of this, I decide to become an instructor, as I see the benefits I am getting from Pilates and know that others could benefit as well.   Fast forward one last time to now.  I complete my certification through PH7 Pilates with Cher Aslor via Kim.  My passion is to help people find that relief from pain and see the benefits of doing pilates regularly.  It does not matter who you are or what your body shape is. We all need movement and strength and we all need Pilates.  Pilates not only gives movement, but strength in the core including the spine, shoulders, neck, hips and legs.  Right down to the toes.  It helps with many injuries, alignment issues, strength, and a whole host of other issues we may have.  You see Pilates focuses on the little muscles which support the big muscles and give us that all over balance in strength and posture.  Come join me at Grow A Spine™ and let's work on this journey together.