For years I have taken a variety of types of yoga classes for the primary purpose of having a spiritual experience with movement. However, what I've come to realize over time is that charting “Om” and practicing pranayama breathing isn’t the only way to connect with yourself in a soulful way.
You may notice you find this experience while hiking in nature, bike riding, swimming, surfing, tennis or whatever calls to you. I'm hoping many of you, as our clients, have a this meaningful experience through your Pilates work.
Joseph Pilates initially termed Pilates “Contrology “ with the sole purpose of connecting the mind, body and spirit. I think we can all attest to the amount of focus necessary during skilled Pilates exercises, and therefore the presence within our bodies that is needed during our sessions. In my mind, this presence and connection to breath and body, is what Joseph Pilates felt as well, and founded his work on.
Over the years, I've been in awe at the transformation I can see in a client from the beginning to the end of their session; not just physically, but their entire energetic being and persona. In this way, I believe Pilates is deeply spiritual. I feel grateful to have the knowledge of this work to be able to share it with others, in addition to my own body.
No greater time then now , do we need a practice to connect with ourselves and gain awareness of all of our parts, encompassing body, mind and spirit.
Are you menopausal, perimenopausal, or postmenopausal? Have you had a recent bone density scan? What is Osteopenia and Osteoporosis, and the difference between the two conditions ?
Osteopenia and osteoporosis are becoming an epidemic in our society. Millions of women (and men) have these conditions without knowing it. This is because these are “silent” conditions which often do not exhibit symptoms, and therefore are not addressed properly or in a timely fashion.
Osteopenia is a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. Its defined as a bone mineral density score between -1.0 and -2.5, and is considered by many doctors to be a precursor to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis is defined as a bone mineral density score of -2.5 standard deviations or more below the mean peak bone mass. Medication is typically indicated.
What are the risk factors for these conditions?
What are the complications of these conditions?
Bone fractures, particularly in the spine or hip, are the most serious complication of osteoporosis. Hip fractures often are caused by a fall and can result in disability and even an increased risk of death within the first year after the injury. In some cases, spinal fractures can occur even if you haven't fallen causing back pain, lost height and a hunched forward posture.
What is the treatment for Osteopenia & Osteoporosis?
This varies considerably among physicians and practitioners, but usually includes hormone balancing, exercise specific for bone health, a healthy diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and magnesium, and bone building supplements or medications.
At Pilates Santé, we recommend the supplement Osteoben by Designs for Health.
Osteoben is a complete bone building formula. Osteoben contains a natural compound, Genistein, that acts like a mild, safe form of estrogen in the body. It is also rich with vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K2. Osteoben increases bone mineral density (proven by bone scan follow up studies), reduces frequency and severity of hot flashes and is safe for breast, uterus and the cardiovascular system. You can purchase Osteoben here.
What exercises can help maintain or increase my bone density ?
Exercises which improve posture (decreasing round back kyphosis position), strengthen the spinal muscles and hip muscles in particular. Balance exercises are also important to decrease fall risk , and potential fracture related to falls.
Please see our video for exercises beneficial for bone density.
Many of us have heard of scoliosis, and are aware we have the condition, but likely don’t know exactly what it is, if it needs to be treated, or if the condition is worsening. Hopefully I can answers some questions or concerns for you.
What is Scoliosis ?
Scoliosis by definition is an abnormal curvature of the spine, often observed as an “s shaped curve." We often think of scoliosis as a condition which begins in childhood, and remains stable for the remainder of ones life. We now know that scoliosis is actually a condition which can progress or worsen over time, dependent on factors such as our lifestyle and daily activities. There is also adult onset scoliosis which can begin at any time (after adolescence), and often occurs secondary to other conditions such as degenerative disc disease.
How is Scoliosis diagnosed ?
Scoliosis is usually confirmed through a physical examination, an x-ray, spinal radiograph, CT scan or MRI. The curve is measured by the Cobb Method and is diagnosed in terms of severity by the number of degrees. A positive diagnosis of scoliosis is made based on a coronal curvature measured on a posterior-anterior radiograph of greater than 10 degrees. In general, a curve is considered significant if it is greater than 25 to 30 degrees.
What causes pain in scoliosis?
Pain resulting from scoliosis can come from a variety of structures such as trunk muscles or soft tissue, spinal vertebrae or facet joints, spinal disc, and nerve root compression or inflammation. Many of my patients who suffer from low back pain, also have concomitant scoliosis creating imbalances in the the spinal soft tissues & hips contributing to their symptoms.
When should I get treatment for my scoliosis?
If your curve is greater than 20 degrees, your doctor will likely prescribe bracing and physical therapy treatment. If you have not had a formal diagnosis or referral, but have back pain you could benefit from pilates to address your symptoms.
How does physical therapy or pilates help my Scoliosis ?
Pilates therapeutic exercises using both the equipment and mat based exercises can improve your scoliosis condition by assisting with the following :
1. Decreasing pain , tightness , and muscle spasm
2. Correcting & improving posture
3. Improving Core control & spine stability
4. Reducing trunk muscle asymmetry & imbalances
If you have any questions or concerns about your scoliosis, please feel free to reach out to us for help!
Here I am performing a few basic spine stabilization exercises beneficial for scoliosis:
Many of our patients with neck and low back pain come to us with a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease, but are not clear on what this means. Degenerative Disc disease (DDD) is the process of losing disc height The inner most part of the intervertebral disc called the nucleus pulposus, looses fluid and often small cracks or fissures develop in outer annulus of disc.
DDD is not necessarily a "normal" process of aging, but a common process. It is often a progression of previous disc herniation or bulge, but can occur at the same time. DDD can occur in individuals as young a 30 years old ,and into 90 years of age.
Common Symptoms of DDD include :
DDD is most commonly diagnosed by an MRI. Treatment can include oral anti-inflammatories, cortisone injection into the spine, spine traction, and physical therapy.
Nearly 90% of our patients at Pilates Sante have DDD in their neck and pain. Very often these clients improve with lifestyle adjustments and specific therapeutic pilates exercises.
A couple of common exercises we might give include :
For any questions or concerns about your spine pain, feel free to contact us at Pilates Sante!
I recently had the opportunity to take a class from Donna Eden, who has become a well known Energy Medicine practitioner and educator. She is known for helping clients and patients make profound changes in their lives and health.
So what is Energy Medicine? And how does it work?
The concept of energy as medicine is to heal the body by restoring energies that have become weak, disturbed or out of balance addressing both physical and emotional ailments. Moving or shifting “stuck” energy can aid in everything from low back pain and chronic headaches, to anxiety, fear or depression. Energy is moved using deep breath while applying deep pressure or taping techniques along energetic meridians, 9-12 of which are recognized, based on the source.
What I personally experienced performing some of these energy shifting techniques, was immediate, which is why I feel strongly about sharing them with my clients and patients. After almost 20 years working as a physical therapist and pilates practitioner, I am very clear that teaching body mechanics and therapeutic exercise alone does have its limitations. So much of the time, my patients are plagued by stress which directly correlates to their pain level. Without managing the stress, by shifting their energy or nervous system state, their healing process is stunted.
Some of you (my patients ) have recently experienced my hands-on energy shifting techniques, along the spleen meridians, sacrum, and occipital center points at the start or end of our sessions. However, what I recommend is also doing self energy work. I've been performing Donna Eden’s “Daily Energy Medicine “(DER) daily for two weeks and I’ve noticed very significant changes! I am more calm with a greater ability to focus and be present. I experience a feeling of stability or centeredness that my meditations have been lacking. Below is the DER, which takes only 4-5 minutes, as well as some wonderful additional stress management techniques.
Daily Energy Routine 4-5 minutes
Purpose: build positive energy in your energy field & move “stuck’ energy to live with greater vitality, health, and happiness.
1. The 4 thumps 15-20 seconds each
-tap cheekbones (stomach meridian)
-below collarbone /notch at top of breastbone (Kidney meridian)
-middle of breastbone (thymus )
-one rib below breasts (spleen meridian)
2. The crossover shoulder pull
Put one hand on opposite shoulder, pull down firmly &
drag hand diagonally across to the opposite hip
3. The Wayne Cook Posture
Cross right wrist over left, clasp fingers, turn your hands under/up & rest them on your chest, inhale & exhale slowly
Unwrap arms/hands, “Steeple” fingertips at third eye (between brows), & pull across forward
4. The Crown Pull
Place your thumbs at temples, & fingers at forehead then pull fingers apart toward hairline
Repeat at hairline, center & back of head
Finish with hands pulling down/forward on shoulders & breathing
5. The Zip Up
Move your hands from your pubic bone up toward your lower lip with deep breath
6. The Hook Up
Place middle finger of one hand in belly button, & other on third eye
Press inward & upward for 15-30 seconds.
I am happy to meet with any Pilates Sante clients to apply some energy healing hands-on techniques or instruction in exercises. Please feel free to write with questions or comments. Thank you for trusting us to help you in your healing journey.
What is inflammation? We generally have two different inflammatory responses. Acute inflammation is a necessary (and helpful) short term immune system response to ward off “invaders” such as pathogens, bacteria, viruses, etc. Immune cells will rush to the site of injury or pathology to help heal and recover. This occurs with musculoskeletal injuries.
Chronic inflammation is long term, sustained inflammation in various systems of the body caused by repeated “hits” to the immune system such as poor diet, lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle, and high stress levels. Chronic inflammation is the root of most diseases and health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, chronic pain, IBS, high blood pressure and even depression. Chronic Inflammation is typically the cause of pain.
“All acute and chronic disease states have pathophysiology that is multifactorial, but nearly all have an inflammatory component to them”
Generally our new patients or clients come to Pilates Sante with symptoms and pain due to excessive inflammation. The inflammation of their condition prevents us from being able to effectively apply pilates therapeutic exercise to improve their condition. Therefore an immediate anti inflammatory regime is needed. This generally includes postural changes, ice, & oral medications such as NSAIDs.
Many clients are allergic to NSAIDs or have been on them long term, and are not tolerating them. It seems we have found the solution with Inflammatone.
This is a holistic anti-inflammatory supplement which consists of a protein enzyme blend which assists the breakdown of the inflammatory process. Many of our clients have experienced significant decrease in symptoms and increased tolerance for exercise, as well as daily activities.
We also recommend changes in lifestyle such as diet & stress management.
Please let us know of you have any questions about your level of inflammation , & whether you could benefit from an anti inflammatory regime.
Source: Jackie Miller Designs for Health
I've been meditating on and off for nearly 20 years now. I began in graduate school as a desperate step to manage the “academic stress." My mother sent a meditation cushion to me in Boston. From there, I read nothing on techniques, instead I just sat on the cushion and breathed for 15 minutes daily, prior to doing anything else. After 2 weeks, I noticed I looked forward to sitting on the cushion (instead of dreading it). I noticed a sense of peace, that wasn’t always long lasting but was clearly present. I was able to better focus on my studies in a calm state. Years later I continue to meditate, but for a much different reason, with various techniques, both alone and in group settings.
They call meditation a “practice” because it is difficult and requires consistent practice to see or feel the effects. At times it results in a great deal of reward, and other times more frustration. However, what is becoming more clear, are the benefits of a steady meditation practice. Amongst some basic benefits are reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and an increase in awareness, self concept and general well being.
Research by Dr Joe Dispenza is now also proving an actual “rewiring” of the brain to body pathways, and new gene up regulation with specific guided meditation leading to profound change in physical and psychological health conditions.
More about rewiring your Brain with intentional meditation to manage your pain:
So many of us understand the benefits of meditation, but are not sure how to meditate. I've come up with a short list of some basic types of meditation which you can try in order to find a particular technique that resonates with you. Your technique will likely change or evolve as your practice deepens.
Types of meditation :
1. Loving kindness meditation - also known as Metta meditation. The goal is to cultivate love and kindness toward everything, even an individual's “enemy" or source of stress, as well as toward oneself.
2. Body Scan or progressive relaxation - the goal is to scan the body for areas of tension, and allow it to release. This technique can help with both relaxation, and decreasing chronic pain in the body.
3. Mindfulness meditation - goal is to become aware and present with your existing surroundings. This technique can help with focus, emotional reactivity, & general negative emotions
4. Breath awareness meditation - goal is focus on mindful breathing, and shifting from focus on thoughts.
5. Kundalini yoga meditation - physically active meditation that blends movement with deep breathing and mantras. This technique can improve physical strength and reduce pain.
6. Zen meditation - form of meditation that is a part of the Buddhist practice. This practice is very similar to mindfulness meditation, but has potentially more of a spiritual component.
7. Transcendant meditation - goal of this technique is to transcend or rise about the persons current state of being. Focus is on a mantra or repeated word to series of words.
These are just a few guided meditations on Youtube, but there are plenty of options available to try. For all of our Pilates Sante clients I strongly encourage & invite you to join us for our meditation workshops.
With the presence of significants amount of stress in our daily lives, we need to have steps to manage our lives holistically which include not just exercise, but our diets, sleep regime, & pain management techniques which includes meditation.
We thank you deeply for allowing us to assist you in reaching your greatest health potential.
Many women suffer from symptoms that they believe to be “normal” after a certain age. However, we now understand that isn’t necessarily the case, and pelvic floor dysfunction can be diagnosed and treated.
Common pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms include:
Although we don’t really understand causes, we can link pelvic floor dysfunction to:
A common diagnosis for pelvic floor dysfunction that we often treat before and after surgery is pelvic floor prolapse. A prolapse occurs when the pelvic muscles and other supporting tissues become weak, which causes the organs in the pelvis to drop or fall out of place.
We also see patients who do not have prolapse but complain of some of the above dysfunctional symptoms. We recommend these patients see a specific internal pelvic floor physical therapist in addition to us working on the imbalances externally in their hip and pelvic musculature.
Many of our pelvic floor patients have extremely tight pelvic floor musculature. Once of the exercises we instruct them to do is for relaxation - deep diaphragmatic breathing with imagery.
While breathing , the client is to imagine the 4 points of the sitz bones, coccyx, & pubic bone to spread apart as if you are “ laying an egg”.
For more pelvic floor questions, concerns and exercises, contact us at Pilates Sante!
Breathing is the first thing we do once we are born, and the last thing we do before we die, but how much attention do we often give to our breath? Most of us don’t think about our breathing, likely because it is automatic and occurs nearly 20,000 times per day. Breathing of course is vital to our existence, and provides for all of our body’s systems. Physiologically, breathing provides oxygen to our all of our vital organs, as well as elimination of toxic substances from our bodies. For our emotional system, it provides control and clarity. In exercise, it provides for efficiency and organization of our musculoskeletal system.
Breath is one of the fundamental principles of pilates. Breath with pilates therapeutic exercise creates flow and ease of movement, encourages proper engagement of our deep core musculature, allows for axial elongation or decompression of our spinal segments, and general efficiency and strength of our musculoskeletal system.
At Pilates Santé we focus on two types of breathing patterns: diaphragmatic breathing and lateral breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing involves inhaling through your nose, while expanding and relaxing your abdomen, then exhaling through the mouth while engaging your lower abdominal muscles. We often teach this breath technique initially to clients to create a connection to the lower abdominal muscle (transverse abdominus) to facilitate core control. This breath pattern also allows for relaxation and focus for our clients learning the pilates fundamental exercises.
Lateral breathing focuses on the expansion of the rib cage and breathing into the sides and back of the ribs. In lateral breathing, we maintain a consistent inward contraction of the deep abdominal muscles, through the inhalation and exhalation. This encourages us to keep our “corset” engaged by recruiting our intercostal muscles (the muscles between each of the ribs). Lateral costal breathing is the primary breath pattern implemented by our rehabilitative pilates clients, so that maximum core support and engagement is maintained through exercise.
The timing and direction of inhalations and exhalations we cue are based on the type of movement being performed. Inhalation is often cued to facilitate extension of the spine, while exhalation is for flexion. Inhalation is cued for axial elongation or relaxation, while exhalation is cued for engagement or facilitation. However, as Brent Anderson Polestar Pilates says, “Breath is a tool, not a rule, “ therefore cues should be based on the movement quality of the exercise you are observing in your client.
For more on these breath techniques, please refer to our website videos.
Nearly all of us have been told we need to have good posture to avoid injury, but what does that really mean? It means that when the spine is in its natural position, all 3 curves of the spine, cervical (neck), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower), are present and in properalignment. In this position the spine is able to withstand the greatest amount of gravitational stress during our daily activities. It is also the position in which we can most safely exercise.
Are we harming our bodies by moving out of neutral spine? No. Throughout the day, we have to move within a safe spinal range of motion that will not always be neutral spine. Therefore, we need spinal extension, flexion, side bending and rotational mobility in our spines. The beauty of pilates is that we work on both neutral spine stabilization and controlled spinal mobility in all exercises. This is the primary reason pilates can be so beneficial in both prevention and treatment of low back pain.
How do we find neutral spine? Pilates instructors use many different cues to teach alignment and awareness. In my opinion it’s a matter of finding what's most successful for each individual. I find cueing for axial elongation, or spinal length, is a nice way for people to achieve proper alignment and decrease stress on their spine. Often finding a neutral pelvic position first will help clients to stack their spine appropriately. An exercise to find pelvic and lumbar spine neutral is the pelvic clock.
Once you have performed these tilts and circles, find neutral spine on the clock face by being balanced on the center of the sacrum and feeling minimal effort of the abdomen and lower back muscles.You can practice just the vertical pelvic tilt both in sitting and in standing to find neutral in more functional positions, and to practice throughout your day.
One of the most common things new pilates clients tell me is how much more aware they are becoming of their posture during functional activities. Finding better alignment during your daily life will not only help prevent injury, but will also allow for more efficient use of your muscular support system.