Achieving Goals with Pilates…Guest post by Riki Shore

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Guest post by Riki Shore

On Sunday October 8th, IOBT client Anne-Claire Broughton will complete her first triathlon, the Ramblin’ Rose, in celebration of turning 50! A lover of challenge and a lifetime learner, Anne-Claire decided to celebrate her half-centennial by doing something active and enabling, and pushing herself to new physical frontiers.

AC bikes

Ever since she can remember, Anne-Claire said her spine looked “unusual”, but she was only recently diagnosed with scoliosis. “I was always flagged for it when we got checked in school,” she remembers, “but the back pain didn’t come until after my daughter was born, and it intensified later when I had abdominal surgery.” Indeed, when she first walked into IOBT she wasn’t standing straight and tall, and she told me immediately that her back hurt “almost all the time”. And like a lot of mothers, firing the low belly muscles was nearly impossible – those muscles just didn’t seem accessible. More than anything, she came to Pilates to strengthen her deep core.

As her instructor, I build sessions that help her achieve her goals while creating space and length in her spine, pushing her to an edge without ever increasing her pain. We start every session with Footwork on the Reformer (see image below), which wakes up her feet and stabilizes her pelvis while using the deep abdominal muscles that Anne-Claire wants to strengthen. Since she’s not primarily looking to build muscle mass, we keep the spring tension low in order to facilitate smooth, continuous movement and highlight the connection between the spring tension and her Pilates scoop (what is sometimes referred to as “holding the spring with your belly”).

AC Reformer

If asked her favorite exercise, Anne-Claire would say Leg Circles, which she credits with helping to straighten her spine and reduce lower back pain.  We also do this exercise every session using the leg springs on the Cadillac. When we first started, I asked Anne-Claire to “stand” into a block that was pushed against the short box from the Reformer, which I had placed at the end of the Cadillac. I wanted to her to feel a ground beneath her extended leg as a stabilizing force while she circled the other leg exploring both movement and restraint. After several months together, she no longer needs the stabilizing block and can hop onto the Cadillac and go right into the exercise.

We always finish the session with some time draped over the Spine Corrector (see image below), which allows her to explore flexion, extension, side bending and rotation in a safe and supportive way. While there have been ups and downs in her triathlon training as she learns what her spine can tolerate, I can honestly say that Anne-Claire is stronger, leaner, taller and more supple than when we first met.

AC Spine Corrector

Like any busy not-quite-50-year-old, she sometimes experiences stress, fatigue, muscle tightness and pain, but she remains undaunted and committed to what she calls her Body Project. “I love doing things that at first I’m afraid of or I think I can’t do. Then when I do them…that is the best feeling!” I have no doubt she’s going to be feeling that way when she crosses the finish line in Chapel Hill in a few short weeks – and I’m proud to have played a small part in her journey. Thank you, Anne-Claire, for brightening IOBT with your presence!

AC Congrats

Schedule a private session with Riki or any of our instructors:        

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

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Moving through stress: Simple steps bring a sense of calm to your day… Guest post by RJ Lisander of Lotus Seed Meditations, LLC

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Not a single one of us is immune to the daily stressors in life.  We all wear many hats requiring us to move from situation to situation, decision to decision, circumstance to circumstance often without a breath in between.  Before we know it we can be flustered, moving too quickly and feeling like we are losing pace with each fleeting moment.

 

This time of year, as Summer starts to cool to Fall’s breeze we can feel especially unsettled.  Old routines are shifting to new routines and this transition of weather and routine can be especially turbulent.  Demands on our attention are heightened and time is at a premium.  We often find we have to put self-care off for another day or week.   

In these moments I try to remind myself this is all part of a cycle and these moments of stress are normal, and in some cases necessary to sustaining life, and as they pass we move back to a state of calm.  But, sometimes we stay in this heightened state and need a technique or two to help move us through them to a place of less stress and more calm. 

 

Not that the below list will solve all your problems, but the inclusion of a pause or multiple pauses throughout the day can help you find a little bit of balance between longer, larger resets. 

  1. Start the day before: Establishing and maintaining state of calm starts by taking a moment or two to organize your day the night before.  Review your calendar and do what you can to prepare for an easier start to the day. 

  1. Sleep: Try to get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep.  When we sleep well everything else seems easier to manage. 

  1. Pack healthy and nutritious snacks to eat throughout the day:  Having small, healthy snacks will help keep your blood sugar level stable and will make it easy to keep your energy levels up (especially if you have a lastminute event that prevents or delays a meal).  Also, having snacks on hand will make it easier to resist the vending machine or drive-through. 

  1. Drink water:  Water naturally fights fatigue and increases energy.  Water flushes out toxins, relieves headaches and boosts the immune system.  So, keep a container of fresh, filtered water handy and sip it throughout the day.  The benefits on mood, hydration, and overall health are truly amazing. 

  1. Take breaks throughout the day to just slow down:  Making a cup of tea, going for a 10-minute walk outside, counting out the beads of a mala, or finding a quiet spot to close your eyes and breath with intent will each do wonders for perspective.  Sometimes all we need to do is pause long enough to breathe.  This can do wonders for calming the mind and senses. 

  1. Focus:  Find an object or objects that bring you a sense of peace and joy and have them at your desk at work or in a space you frequent throughout your day.  Gaze on them for a moment drawing your awareness toward something outside of your momentary frazzle and back into an inner state of joy.   

  1. Music:  Play soothing and happy music as you are able throughout the day.  Relaxing music has been shown to increase levels of serotonin and other positive hormones in the bloodstream providing our bodies with better mood, sleep and learning capabilities. 

  1. Scent:  Scent has been studied and proven to improve mood, cognitive capabilities and behavior.  Go ahead and dab on a touch of your favorite perfume.  Start a diffuser scenting the room with lovely essential oils that bring calm, awareness, focus, whatever it is you need at that time.  (Just be mindful of those around you and any sensitivities they may have to certain scents.). If you are in a space where a diffuser or perfume is not recommended, try dabbing a touch of essential oil on a pressure point or two.  Pressure points can include the temples, the back of the neck by the base of the skull, the neck by the jaw line, the collar bone and the wrists. 

Here’s to hoping you have a day filled with manageable stress, breath and space to be.