Wednesday, July 20, 2011

teaching is humbling

Yet, why are there so many pompous teachers out there?  The teachers I most admire are the ones who change their opinion, who aren't afraid to look at an exercise from many different angles and who understand that what makes us unique instructors is what we bring to the work because we did not invent this stuff.  Someone taught each teacher out there.  Still, I see many teachers who act as though they have some intellectual claim to "Contrology".

Teaching Pilates to me is a living, breathing organism.  We all should have the same goal - to align, strengthen and assist in uniform development of a client's body.  There are many ways to get to a strong uniformly developed client who is happy with their progress, not just mine, not just yours.

I am constantly refining my teaching skills, including attuning my tone of voice, selecting intentional wording, knowing the work/having felt the work in my body many times over and over (and not being afraid to admit that I only know what I know, what I have felt in the body I inhabit and that there is so much more to be learned - I will never be wise, I will never be done), making sure each spinal plane (flexion, extension, rotation and side bending) gets some time, and challenging all of my students with varying degrees of health and fitness.  It certainly is a lot of multi-tasking.  And I think I've come a long way by being open to my mistakes - the not worrying about being perfect has really helped me.  I, in fact, learn more when I mess up.

It is already challenging enough to proceed with confidence in doing all of this, we really should be uplifting one another more, rather than the constant petty judging.  I believe other teachers also are constantly refining their skills and I like that they challenge my thinking and have other ideas about the repertoire we were left with.  I think the world would be a dull, uninhabitable place if each teacher did things the same way.  I want to give props to all my teachers, the ones I resonated with and the ones I didn't.  I learned something from EVERY teacher and every experience.  I hope I remain open to each new student, each class I take, each class I teach and all the teachers I get the joy of hearing be it live and in person around the studio(s) or in this wild internet.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the pelvic floor aka dry running

So...why care about the pelvic floor?  I mean who ever really even considers their pelvic floor?  Maybe when pregnant, or when you get an SI joint dianosis, or when you get the whim to do some Kegels.  The pelvic floor is what holds your insides in AND well, your body fluids, too.  That sure makes me care about mine.  Plus, finding your pelvic floor engagement will help you have a deeper, fuller abdominal connection with TA (transversus abdomini - the spanx muscle - the flatbelly muscle).

Runners are WAY more likely to have prolapse and let's face it some incontinence issues.  So female runners really should care about their pelvic floor.  Plus running with core strength really assists in better breathing, posture and keeping a safe lower back.

My favorite pelvic floor spa day is power yoga!  When you are holding those bandhas in purposefully, you are not only focusing your mind, but strengthening your core!  When I started yoga, I deprived myself the goodness of p floor connection - I simply ignored those cues to pull my pfloor in.  Please learn from my mistake and add your pelvic floor into your yoga and your running.

How do you find the pelvic floor?  Nobody wants to admit that the kegel is elusive and how do you know if you are doing it correctly?  I often see people bear down when I cue the pelvic floor which is no bueno!

Before we me a favor.  Pull your low belly in.  Notice what you feel.  On a scale of 1 to 5 note how strong it feels.  Okay, here we go...pelvic floor school.

You have probably heard the cue to stop the flow of pee midstream.  That really helps!  But here are a few other ways if that one doesn't resonate with you.  This list is by no means comprehensive, so comment if you aren't feeling any of these.

1.  In seated or prone observe your sit bones as they rest.  Relax.  Breathe, feel your sit bones.  Try to draw them together.  Feel that little zip "down there"?

2.  Suck your thumb.  No really.  Try it - it's the suckling response from infancy that connects your guts fully!  How cool is that?

3.  On all fours/quadruped try to neutral your pelvis.  Tuck and arch a few times until you feel as though your pelvis is flat.  Notice your tailbone.  Now without moving your pelvis or hips (or ribs!!) zip your tailbone toward your pubic bone.  Remember, nothing moves except a "down there" contraction.

4.  Now pull your pelvic floor in and THEN pull your lower belly.  Now give it a 1 - 5 rating.  See?  It's no joke!

My yoga grandmother (my yoga teacher's teacher) says feeling mula bandha (the pelvic floor) engage is like a butterfly landing on a flower.  Yep that means if you squish your shoulders or your face or make any tense big movement, you haven't got your pelvic floor engaged properly.  It should feel like a nice, kindly lil muscle pull.  As you deepen your pelvic floor experience it will feel stronger, but still, never like you are bearing down or working hard.  (Tip:  look at your low belly when you pull your pelvic floor - if it poufs out, you are bearing down, not drawing up and inside you)

I leave you with this to ponder - just in case you still aren't sure you care about the Pfloor...  I caught an episode of Oprah with the sexpert where she said not only should you be able to pull your P floor up but also back and from right to left.  Ooooh, spiraling pelvic floor movement.  That's freaking cool.  So is not leaking when you run, not having lower back pain, not sneezin and peein, and being able to fully connect with your core.
I woke up this morning feeling really old.  Physically.  This is rare for me, but less rare since I had my daughter.   I would have preferred to lounge around the ole bed this morning, sipping coffee and waking up slowly or to do some Pilates or stretches.  But, the only time I get to run on a Thursday is before my husband leaves for work.  So, I dragged my sorry ass out of bed, irritated also, that I only had a half hour to run.  I have been hoping to start getting more distance runs in, but there are some practicality issues - mostly due to breastfeeding.  I keep telling myself only three months more and I will have my body back and can get up at the ass crack of dawn and run as much as I please - plus it will not be in the 90's at 7am, either.

Ok, back to this morning.  I zombily jumped into my running gear and had a great albeit short run.  I felt really creaky at first, my knees were grouching, the attachment of my medial hamstring seems to be a little pulled, but the gloriosity of the blue-blue sky, the for once cool filled me with overwhelming gratitude.  And off I went.  I ran fast for my geriatric-loping self.  It was wonderful.

When I get tired, I visualize my hamstrings as big chunky muscles who must reach longer and work harder.  It helps every single time to keep my body moving and energized.