Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity: one of my favorite songs from the musical, “Wicked”, and the title of one of Amy Alpers’ fabulous workshops.  As I sit at my desk or try to figure out a good way to be on my iPhone without getting a neck cramp, I hear that song playing in my head and think of ways I can do just that: defy the pull of gravity.

One might think that since I talk about and teach posture and proper alignment all day, I would have perfect posture all of the time.  One might think.  BUT with spending nearly 4 years of my life either pregnant or nursing, toting around two kids, and squeezing in computer work at the end of the day when I don’t have much left in regards to energy, my posture definitely takes a hit.  Recently I have been noticing my shoulders rounding forward and my upper back getting weaker and weaker.  So I have decided to take a stand to actively counter the effects of kids, chairs, smart phones, computers and general LIFE stuff to work on defying gravity.

On the left I am in my “comfortable” sitting position.  That is until my back, neck and shoulders start aching!  At which point I assume the sitting posture shown on the right.

Here is a “four point posture check” that I teach my clients and use for myself:

  1. Sit up on your sitz bones
  2. Pull your abs toward your spine
  3. Roll your shoulders back and down
  4. Pull your face back into your head (weird but try it…did your head stack back over your spine?!)

With less than optimal posture, here are a few things that might happen in the body:

  • head sits forward on the spine causing the neck muscles to have to work harder to keep it on
  • shoulders round forward causing the pecs (chest) to tighten,
  • the upper back rounds, causing those muscles to be over stretched and weak
  • there is a greater load on the low back (lumbar spine) as all of the weight of the upper body sits on that area

The Pilates system is perfect for helping to counter the daily strains on our body.  The equipment in particular, is amazing in promoting decompression of the spine and helping to defy gravity! I highly recommend getting in a Pilates studio anytime you can, but, if you don’t have access to a reformer, cadillac, low chair, or ped-o-pull, you can certainly do things from your office or home to help improve your posture.

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Press your arms back behind you to tone the triceps and open the front of the chest.

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Start with elbows bent and hands forward (like you are in a bicep curl). Squeeze your shoulder blade muscles as you rotate your arms out to the sides (as shown above).  Add light weights for added challenge.

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Look to the right and then nod your head down (chin to armpit) to stretch the side of your neck.  Take your right hand to your head to add a gentle stretch and reach the left shoulder down and away from you for an even greater stretch.  Repeat on both sides.

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Reach one arm out to the side and pull your hand and fingers back.  Gently look away from that arm for a greater stretch down the front of the shoulder, arm, and hand.

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Tricep and shoulder stretch. Keep abs in and try not to over arch your low back.

We can’t avoid carrying our kids, sitting for long hours, and being on a computer, but we can combat the negative changes they have on our body.  So give these exercises a try and see if your posture improves and if you notice a difference in how you feel.

Interested in Defying Gravity at InsideOut Body Therapies?   Call, email, or schedule online. 919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com         www.insideoutbodytherapies.com

10 Reasons to Do Pilates

“In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 you’ll see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a new body” ~Joseph Pilates

 

In honor of Global Pilates Day this year I thought I would share a few of the reasons I think everyone should do Pilates.  I know there are many more, but this is my short list of reasons why Pilates is so life-changing.  Yes,  Life. Changing.

  1. You time– Who doesn’t need an hour of “me time”?!  For an hour the focus is on YOU: your body and your movement.  Since Pilates is fairly detailed, your mind doesn’t have the space to drift off to the grocery list, bills, kids, etc.
  2. Posture– Through the Pilates system, we work all areas of the body, even the ones that might be neglected in daily life.  A big focus is on opening the chest, working the upper back and strengthening the core, which all lead to better posture!
  3. Flexibility-  You do NOT have to be flexible to start Pilates, rather doing Pilates will improve your flexibility.  Through the Pilates exercises you will actively stretch AND strengthen your body at the same time versus focusing on passive stretching.
  4. Core strength- As you might have heard, we do focus a lot on the core in Pilates. The core goes beyond just the abdominals (although you will strengthen them for sure!).  The core includes the abs, hips, and even the shoulder complex as all of these areas help to keep us strong and balanced.
  5. Balance- Improved core strength helps us improve our balance.  We need balance in order to be able to do all of the other things in our lives, whether it is holding a baby and four bags of groceries in the rain, climbing a mountain, skiing, or just walking across uneven terrain.
  6. Breath- We focus a lot on the breath in Pilates.  Breath is imperative for life.  Tight ribs, necks, backs, and jaws can all lead to restricted breathing patterns.  Many of us can optimize our breath for greater lung capacity, improved oxygenation of the blood and healthier tissue.  When we breathe better, we feel better.
  7. Sleep- And when we breathe better and move our bodies during the day, it can help improve sleep at night.
  8. Injury prevention- One of the Pilates principles is to promote uniform development of the body (and mind!). This means that all muscles have both the strength and flexibility needed to create balance in the body.  When there is balance in the body, there is less chance of injury.
  9. Happiness! As you get stronger and more flexible, breathe better, sleep better and give yourself some quality time, an added benefit is HAPPINESS!
  10. Fun- Even when your instructor makes you hold Teaser for what feels like hours, Pilates is generally FUN!  The Pilates system, with the playground-like equipment and 100s of exercises is never boring!

One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Pilates’ book, Return To Life is this:

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.”

The goal for most of us is to stay healthy so that we can do the things that make us happy.  Why not choose a fitness program that brings about joy and happiness along the way?!

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Happy Pilates Day from InsideOut Body Therapies!

Call or email the studio to schedule a class or private session.

919.361.0104

info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

www.insideoutbodytherapies.com