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ELEGANT FREE LONG LEG EXTENSIONS

Blog, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Refined Pilates, Reiki, Yoga

CONNECTING WITH THE WISDOM OF THE BODY THROUGH THE CELLS

In the pursuit of physical wellness and personal growth, it’s crucial to understand that the way you connect with your body can significantly impact the results you achieve. Whether you’re practicing Pilates, Yoga, receiving Reiki, or exploring Cranial Sacral treatments, the way you connect with your body can make all the difference. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of connecting with your body in a more profound and harmonious way.

Details and Subtlety are Important

No matter what is your level when you exercise, whether you are a professional dancer or someone wishing to improve their posture, it is the details about how you connect with your body as you move that will make your practice more effective. The details are many. These details, as we hone our ability, become more and more subtle. You cannot avoid the fact that moving or exercising well requires concentration and continuous subtle connection with the body. This level of focus calms us. We may come to a Pilates or Yoga class, tired from a demanding day at work, but we will leave feeling energised, feeling “clean”, like someone washed our aura.

There are so many aspects, so many details, that are both fascinating and essential. This attention to detail is what keeps our practice alive. This is what makes it interesting.

What is of paramount importance is connection, and the quality of that connection, with your body. It effects your entire, not just practice, but life.

We choose a detail to focus on. We give it time (something else we are not very good at. We are always in a rush!). We get better and better at that detail, and then we layer it with more and more detail. This experience is wonderful. As human beings we are potentially so intelligent and have so much wisdom at our fingertips. We have access to so much knowledge. This opens us, to be curious, to receive the knowledge, helps us LIVE in our body, enjoying it, experiencing it’s pleasure and doing those beautiful movements, we always wanted to do, with grace and ease. We heal injuries and open up to our movement potential. We can do that advanced exercise we thought was impossible for us to achieve. Not by pushing, forcing and abuse, but through the body’s own innate intelligence (huge intelligence) and love. Caring for our body. Respecting our body.

In order to do this, we need to be ready to LISTEN to our own body wisdom. How lucky we are! 

We need to give up being the dictator, pushing our body around.

How to Deal with Fear

We are often afraid of our body. Afraid because we may have passed through various illnesses, done operations, injured ourselves or had accidents. And who knows what is imprinted  in our ancestral memory.  We have been body shamed. We are afraid because we think, if we stop pushing, we will never achieve any thing. 

We are afraid that we will fall into pieces. YES, we will, and in the ashes, we will find those golden nuggets that will make us into a better person, not just physically but we experience the physical body is not somehow isolated from our psychology, our way of thinking, our feelings and our spirit. Each affects the other. It is impossible to separate them out. 

Being kinder to ourselves, we are happier, and in turn, we are kinder to others.

Being more connected to the beauty of our body wisdom we recognise that beauty in others. If you are a teacher this is essential.

Enjoy, enjoy the magnificent gift of your body. Float up into the “Teaser” with ease, experience the true grounding of the “Warrior Pose” and walk your path.

From Force to Ease of Movement: My Personal Journey

I, like many, grew up with the idea that achieving physical goals required sheer force and determination. I used to watch beautiful dancers from the outside and tried to copy them. This approach led to a lot of physical tension, frustration, and even injuries. I thought that “trying harder” was the way forward. However, I’ve learned that this is not the case.

As I reflect on my journey, I realise that true progress came when I began to unlearn these harmful habits. It took time, but the transformation was worth it. I was fortunate to have exceptional teachers who guided me along the way, reshaping my practice and my life. The path to connecting with your body in a healthier way is an ongoing process of growth and self-discovery.

 The Wisdom of The Body Cells

Our bodies are intricate systems composed of approximately 37.2 trillion cells, each containing the vast repository of ancestral memory and knowledge. From the intelligence within these cells, our bodies were formed, from the spinal cord to every intricate detail. It’s a fascinating that the knowledge of how to create our bodies still lies within us.

The logical brain, which often acted as a dictator in our lives, should now take a step back. It’s not about eliminating logical thinking entirely, but rather allowing it to find its proper place within the magnificent system of our body.

 Moving Beyond Judgment

When we embrace connecting with our body directly through the cells, we shift from judgment to being open to receiving information. We enter the realm of experiencing and sensing—a world filled with new possibilities. In the mind body approach, the left side of the brain connects with the right side of the body and vice versa, creating a crossover effect. However, when we tune into the wisdom contained within the cells of our body, there is no need for this crossover. We receive information directly from the cells of the area we are focusing on.

But to do this, we must be sufficiently relaxed. The magic of this process is that, once we open ourselves to the possibility of connecting with our cells, it happens naturally. It’s as though our cells have been patiently waiting for us to listen.

 The Power of Breathing Maintaining a Connection with the Cells of the Lungs.

One effective way to explore this connection is by practicing cellular breathing. By focusing on the cells of the lungs, you’ll discover a breath that originates from a much deeper space within you. Remember to remind yourself to relax your mind during this process.

The attention you give to the area of your body you want to connect with should be wholehearted and nurturing, akin to the loving attention a mother gives to her baby. It’s possible that emotions or realisations may surface during this process. While it can be a bit scary to establish an entirely new connection with your body, the results are consistently rewarding.

 My Gratitude to Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

I am deeply grateful to Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, whose teachings on “cellular breathing” completely transformed my approach to practice. I first encountered her wisdom at a seminar in Patras, and it has since been an integral part of my journey. Bonnie generously shares her knowledge, and you can find numerous free videos of her teachings on YouTube.

My Refined Pilates and Yoga Classes Incorporate Accessing the Body Wisdom Through the Cells

Incorporating the cellular approach into my classes has yielded remarkable results with students of all levels. It’s a reminder that our bodies hold the key to our well-being, and by nurturing this connection, we can unlock the true potential within ourselves. As we continue to learn and grow, let us remember to listen to the wisdom that resides within the cells of our body.

Please visit my You Tube Cannel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2h6-nH_DKi6nVJ9Vn7FZ8w

You are Invited:

FREE EXPLORATION

Saturday 7 October 2023 17.00 – 17.45 EET

45 MINS

Live and On Zoom

Shifting Your Awareness of the body. Connecting to  the Body’s Cellular Wisdom.

Breath. Meditation. Curiosity. Exploration. Free Movement.

DM me for details.

Blog

THE FOOT WORK ON THE PILATES REFORMER IS THERAPEUTIC FOR BACK PAIN. PART 2.

Part 2

BREATHE DEEPLY AND EASILY

Don’t be afraid to experiment with breath. Pilates did! 

Jerome Andrews taught us exercises with “sighing” breath, for releasing; holding the the breath out, to utilise the healing effect, of the *“still point” and deep, rich in breaths, followed by a soft, blowing, long, out breath. All of these are different and serve different purposes  and intentions. 

When we release the breathing diaphragm, we release the largest concentration of fascia in our body. This alone can result in relief from back pain.

Colour the breath. Fill it with intention. Breathing in power and energy. Breathing out tension, negative thoughts and judgements of our body. 

Let go of the old. Draw in, the the new and the positive.

NEVER FORCE YOUR BREATH

Over time the muscles supporting your breathing system will strengthen. The tension patterns in the fascia of the breathing diaphragm will release and let go. The breath will naturally expand. Until then go with what is easy for you. Float on the breath.

USE YOUR BREATH INTENTIONALLY.

Breath is a conduit to filling each of your cells not just with oxygen, but with positive energy.

Here is an example to practice.

Today:-

Each time I breathe in I think. 

“I breathe in energy.” I have practiced this when coming to an ashtanga practice, seemly exhausted, and not knowing how I will get through it. It works! I was so surprised at my practice that day. I started feeling by I might not get through it and finished with the glow and satisfaction of a deep session. I can’t remember what happened exactly but it was good.

“I breathe in light.”

“I breathe in strength.”

“I breathe in clarity.”

“I breathe in knowledge.”

“I breathe in change.”

“I breathe in perfect leg alignment.”

Make an ever expanding personal list and chose one to focus on. 

The out breath is a letting go process.

“I breathe out tiredness.”

“I breathe out previous negative thoughts about my body.”

“I breathe out and I surrender more to gravity.”

“I breathe out, and use my sites of support, to release my joints, and keep them relaxed.”

“I breathe out and feel my spine long and relaxed.”

FLOAT ON YOUR BREATH. FLOAT ON HAPPINESS.

BREATHING EASILY IS FREEDOM. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

HAVE YOU OBSERVED PEOPLE WITH SCOLIOSIS, KYPHOSIS DO NOT BREATHE EASILY?

Using the breath well will help these students overcome their problems.

PEOPLE WHO ARE ANXIOUS MAKE THEIR BREATHING SMALL.

It is like they want to hide and to make themselves as small as possible. Deep, regular breathing gives a sense of calm, peace and focus.

THE BREATHING IN THE FOOT WORK ON THE PILATES REFORMER PLAYS A HUGE ROLE IN HEALING BACK PAIN.

I chose even breaths. The in breath lasts as long as the out breath. The in breath is strong as the out breath. It is like a circle. I find the Ujjayi breath from yoga is the most effective. Students’ breathing rapidly improves as does their focus. It is a strong practice.

Variation 1

Let’s chose a breath pattern for our foot work. Let’s choose BREATHE OUT to push out and BREATHE IN to come down. 

I know this is the opposite way to the way to the way it is often taught. 

Ok. What does this way offer?

When you BREATHE OUT the breathing diaphragm goes up. This gives you more space, internally, to energise the muscles of the pelvic floor for support.

When you BREATHE OUT the belly naturally drops. Take advantage of nature and allow the deep abdominal muscles to drop and engage, naturally, without tension.

When you BREATHE OUT it is a process of surrender and therefore as we travel back we can enhance the sense of surrendering the back of the body to gravity. 

Once again, THIS IS NOT PUSHING THE BACK DOWN. 

Surrendering the upper back in this way, magically releases, the habitual tension, in the shoulders and upper back. Watch magic happen!

So what does the IN BREATH on the way down offer us?

We can learnt use THE IN BREATH in such a way that we emphasise filling the back of the lungs. This helps us once again to come into touch ever more deeply with the back of the body’s connection with the surface of the bed and the surrendering to gravity.

THE IN BREATH has a sense of suspension. Dancers use it, to seem to hover in the air, at the height of a jump.

THE IN BREATH naturally creates more space between the last rib and the iliac crests. It literally creates more space in the spine. 

Expansion. 

We can consciously use this to open up the spaces between each vertebra. 

Variation 2.

CHANGING THE BREATH TO THE OTHER WAY ROUND

CHANGING THE BREATH TO THE OTHER WAY ROUND is not wrong. 

It offers the feeling as you push out of filling the back of the lungs and emphasising the connection with the back of the body to the surface of the mat, of being supported, of taking in energy.

The out breath on the way down can be used to release tension in the joints, and be more relaxed.

WE NEED TO BE RELAXED TO BREATH WELL.

I just prefer the first way. I can get more juice out of the exercise.

Variation 3. 

WHAT IF WE USE MORE BREATHS?

Aaaa this is my favourite way:

BREATHE OUT to push out. Read all the notes above and from the previous blog.

BREATH IN AT THE TOP OF THE MOVEMENT AND STAY.

Visualise a line of light extending back in the space above the crown of the head. ( The point where the sutures meet, about one third back from the hair line, the place that is soft on a baby.)

Our imagination is a powerful tool and just doing this will create more space in the spine.

Be careful not to change the position of your ankles.

BREATHE OUT. STAY WHERE YOU ARE.

Feel like you are hanging from that line of light all the way down to your toes, arches or heels (depending on which position of the feet you are using). 

Consciously release any tension you may have mistakenly placed in the hip joints.

If you are working in parallel. Visualise the angle of your thigh bones. Check this out in your favourite anatomy book! Many, many, many of of us carry a mistaken image of our thigh bones in our psyche. 

Double check if your tail bones are released, the end of your spine. This can result is a deep pain relief at the base of the spine and a widening at the back of the pelvis.

BE PREPARED TO ACCEPT A NEW SENSATION IN YOUR BODY. 

It can be a bit scary.

BREATHE IN. THE MACHINE  WILL STAY WHERE IT IS for the very first part of the movement to travel down. 

Careful not to change your ankles if you are on the toes. 

Continue to feel like the line extending from the crown of the head is being pulled out into the space behind you. As our beloved Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen says “space has magnetism”. 

Careful not to accidentally tense any part of the spine.

The machine will stay for the first part of the movement BECAUSE YOU HAVE LENGTHENED AND CREATED MORE SPACE IN THE SPINE.

You will get taller with each repetition.

You will feel a pleasant opening in the front of the hip joints which is super therapeutic.

Follow the instructions above and in the previous blog to come down. 

REMEMBER WHEN YOU GO TO PUSH OUT AGAIN YOU WILL BE IN A NEW POSITION OF THE BODY. BE CONSCIOUS, AWARE AND RESPOND ACCORDINGLY.

This is why the Pilates method does not have many repetitions. 

Each time is different. 

Each repetition evokes further change.

Just in case you missed it this is the link for part 1. https://jennycolebourne.com/the-foot-work-on-the-pilates-reformer-is-therapeutic-for-back-pain/

These are the links to some You Tube videos about foot work on the Reformer that you may find interesting.

https://youtu.be/Vnfw4wkG35k

https://youtu.be/zvWamobo9FI

https://youtu.be/7oYZGrLAOw8

  • “The Still Point” is a description used in Cranial Sacral Therapy. The body comes to a place of quiet, where the cranial rhythms stop. This can last a varying amount of time. The system spontaneously starts up again, often in a more balanced, easeful way.

During the “still point” the body can go into an unwinding process. The unwinding movements come from deep in the body, and can range from small and subtle, to quite large. They happen spontaneously and have nothing to do with the logical mind. It is important not to judge them because the results are always therapeutic/positive. “Still Points” can occur during movements or exercises. The Head Stand in yoga is said to bring you into this state. The 100s in Pilates, with the breath held out, as Jerome taught it, can lead us into a “still point”. 

Blog, Jerome Andrews, Refined Pilates

THE THIRD SPINAL SUCCESSION

Jerome Andrews told we that Pilates referred to the arching of the back as the “Third Spinal Succession” and an arched position as the “Third Position” of the Spine.

Refer to my blogs for detailed descriptions of all the other spinal positions and successions. https://jennycolebourne.com/jerome-andrews-pilates-the-first-spinal-succession/ https://jennycolebourne.com/second-spinal-succession-and-position-for-refined-pilates-and-yoga/ https://jennycolebourne.com/fourth-spinal-succession-the-mermaid/

Pilates believed that a flexible strong spine was healthy. We need to move the spine fully in all directions.

HE CONSTANTLY MOVED BEYOND HIS PERCEIVED LIMITATIONS.

I understood from Jerome that it was required, (especially as a dancer), that he move right to the end of a movement, and then he explored how to go safely beyond that. He constantly moved beyond his perceived limitations.

DEEP WORK TRANSFORMS A PERSON PHYSICALLY PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY 

Such deep work transforms a person physically, psychologically and spiritually. 

This transformation is not done by forcing and pushing (there is enough abuse in our world) but by a keen awareness of the body, at each moment in time, focus, and detailed, dedicated application of the principals of the method, the technique. Pilates stressed concentration as a key factor. For sure you need concentration, meticulous application and a deep, non judgemental relationship with the body.

TRULY MOVE VERTEBRA BY VERTEBRA BONE BY BONE

As with all the spinal successions it is important to move, truly, not approximately, truly, vertebra by vertebra, bone by bone. If you practice this with awareness you will never injure yourself. 

Each succession can be initiated at the tip of the tail, or coccyx, which comes all the way down to the level of the anus. Or it can start from the top of the spine. I think of the bones of the skull as the first vertebrae. This is how it is thought of in cranial sacral therapy. It makes sense, as the brain and the spine are one system, A system embraced and supported by the cerebral spinal fluid.

Depending on the movement the succession goes from top to bottom or bottom to top.

THE FRONT EDGE OF THE SPINE HAS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FEEL, DESIGN AND QUALITY

When moving into the “Third Spinal Succession” our focus is on the front edge of the spine. It is important to be aware that the front edge of the spine has a completely different feel, design and quality from the back edge of the spine. It is a different experience. The spaces in between the vertebrae open like fans.

In order to allow this huge opening in the front of the body, the back of the body needs to be soft. It partners the front of the body by narrowing, not be forcing, but rather by surrender.

  THE THIRD SPINAL SUCCESSION IS ECSTATIC

An arching movement is ecstatic. Special filming techniques reveal that there are small “explosions” in the chakras at the front of the body. These “explosions” lead to a person being more open. It is not just physically beautiful.

EMOTIONAL RELEASE

I remember quite early on in my career I was teaching a beautiful, professional, contemporary dancer. We had come to the end of class and I asked her to do a relaxation on the Spine Corrector. This exercise involved arching back over the barrel. Suddenly she burst into tears. She cried and cried. Although it was the first time that I had experienced a student having such an emotional release. I knew it was possible, in theory, and here it was happening before my eyes. I knew enough to give her the space to cry. Afterwards she shared with me that although she was very flexible, and a beautiful mover, she had always felt a small area of tightness in the chest. She said that when she did the exercise she felt like an energetic “pop” and burst into tears. It was completely unexpected. After she cryed, the tightness was gone.

You might want to look at this “Down Stretch” video as an example of “Third  Spinal Succession”. https://youtu.be/X2kwH1LvnyI 

Blog

TOUCH AND PRESENCE ENHANCE YOUR PILATES AND YOGA PRACTICE 

PART 2

This blog post is for Pilates and Yoga Teachers, and

Students, as Well as Other Physical Disciplines.

This information is Useful for Reiki Practitioners

and Teachers, Cranial Sacral Therapists and other

Body Workers.

Please read part 1 first! https://jennycolebourne.com/touch-and-presence-enhance-your-pilates-and-yoga-practice/

KEEPING THE DOOR OPEN

In order to help other people we first need to practice expanding our own awareness and consciousness. We truly “know” through personal experience. Each person is unique and will experience things in different ways to us.

Keep the door open to further information.

100% FOCUS

Whether we are going deeper with ourselves, or with someone else, we need to be 100% engaged in the task at hand. Being 100% engaged does not mean we are tense. We are totally relaxed, centered and open. This takes practice. Usually, it is not something we are taught in school. We learn it through disciples such as meditating, or practicing Reiki.

QUALITY OF PRESENCE

Please refer to my previous blog which describes various ways that we can ensure we are, with ourselves and others, with a presence that has positive value.

HUMAN ABILITIES

We all have abilities and possibilities that we perhaps have not been previously aware of. Simply leave your consciousness open to that idea.

SKIN

We are all able to perceive deep in the body.

It is important to be relaxed and let go of any idea of trying.

Let’s say you have your hands on someone either as part of a healing session, or as part of an active touch correction, or adjustment. 

Go through all the steps that were described in part 1 of this blog. Then, very simply, think “skin”. You will be amazed at how easy it is to sense someones skin. In the beginning you may want, as an exercise, to ask yourself some simple questions. How is the skin? Is it warm or cold? Is it dry or moist? It is a simple practice to hone your perception.

IMPORTANT

It is important that the minute you feel yourself tensing up, or trying, to stop yourself, and return to a relaxed state.

UNDER THE SKIN

After a while, very simply, shift your awareness to under the skin. Here we may be in relationship with the fascia of the body. If you wish ask yourself some simple questions like “What does it feel like here? In this space?” 

BONE 

Just for fun, now, shift your awareness to the bone in this area. What is the bone like?

IT IS SO EASY

I remember when I first did these awareness explorations in about 1989 as part of my cranial sacral therapy education. I was stunned at how easy and natural it was.

SENSING MOVEMENT UNDER YOUR HANDS

You may at some point notice internal movements happening under your hands. They will always be therapeutic. The body knows what to do, how to heal itself. The best thing we can do is give these movements our 100% relaxed focus and follow, accompany the movement, as closely as we can. Resist the temptation to direct. Simply follow and wait for the cycle of movement to complete itself. It is super important not to judge anything. Do not be alarmed if the movements happen to be big, follow as best you can and trust the process.

This can be done both with a simple hands on position, or as integrated into an adjustment of a yoga asana, or Pilates exercise.

HUMBLENESS

It is best to remain humble in front of the complex, beauty of the body and the power of the universe. By this I do not mean to make yourself smaller, but to be in a state of awe.

SMILE AND ENJOY YOUR PRACTICE.

BE OPEN TO STILL MORE.

Have a look at my videos, with touch corrections, on my You Tube Channel.

Refined Pilates, “Openings to Second” https://youtu.be/mCwGl3jBrFU and “Short Spine Roll” https://youtu.be/tgfqDcJYb7M.

Hatha Yoga, Downward Facing Dog https://youtu.be/DqWuTIlOYpg, Triangle Pose https://youtu.be/FLSGI6J6MQI and Forward Bends https://youtu.be/1e6oQbOY0GY.

Blog, Pilates, Pilates Instructor Training, Refined Pilates, Yoga, Zoom

SOUL OF THE FOOT PART 2.

Check our my previous blog https://jennycolebourne.com/the-soul-of-the-foot-part-1/

SOFTENING THE SOLE OF THE FOOT

Have a look at my You Tube video https://youtu.be/JvlADcvaahU

SMALL EQUIPMENT

A humble tennis ball.

SUGGESTION

Make this exercise part of your warm up.

REPETITIONS

3-5 in each position.

RECOMMENDATIONS

This is an exercise, which is good for everyone.

It is very important a person has a lot of tension in the feet.

These exercises are excellent for people who have been through chemotherapy or suffer from numb feet.

Elders may need this exercise more.

Ballet dancers often need this work because of the effect of point work on their feet.

Pregnant women may find relief with these exercises. 

Stand on both feet in parallel and find the classic parallel position

Stand with your heels directly under the sit bones. (To find your sit bones (the Ischial Tuberosity), sit on the floor and rock from side to side. Feel those bones? They are what we dancers refer to as sit bones.)

Imagine two parallel lines. Use the line of your floorboards to align your feet if you have them, or use a ruler. Place the inside edge of the joint of the big toe and the inside edge of the heel against these parallel lines. Close your eyes and in a gentle, non-judgmental way tune into your body. How do your feet feel against the floor?

After tuning in to your body take the tennis ball and place it under your left foot between the first and the second toe. Gently roll the foot over the ball and as you do so feel as if you are molding the foot to the ball. Roll the foot over the ball using a medium pressure until you reach the middle of the arch of the foot.  If you come to a place on the foot, which is painful, stop for a moment and imagine that area softening. Wait until the pain dissipates and then move on. Your aim is to allow the spaces between the metatarsals to open and spread.

Repeat this process between the 2nd and third toe and then between the third and fourth and so on and of course on both feet.

After you have completed the exercise once again tune in to your body and notice how the soles of the feet now feel against the floor.

TOE CIRCLES

Look out for my You Tube video.

REPETITIONS.

3-5 in each direction.

RECOMMENDATION

This is an exercise, which is good for all.

Very important if you feel a person has a lot of tension in the feet.

These exercises are excellent for people who have been through chemotherapy or suffer from numb feet.

Elders may need this more.

Ballet dancers often need this work because of the effect of point work on their feet.

Pregnant women may find relief with this. 

Sit crossed legged on the floor or in any position that is comfortable for you. You can sit on a chair if you like. 

Take a hold of the left foot. Hold all the toes with the left hand except for the big one. Keep them still and steady. Take a hold of the big toe with the right hand and gently lengthen the toe and make 3 – 5 circles with the big toe first in one direction and then in the other. Explore the edges of the circle. 

Move on to the next toe supporting the other toes with the left hand and describing the circles with the right. Continue until you have done the exercise with each toe and then, do the exercise on the other foot.

Stand up and check how your feet feel against the floor.

ENCOURAGING THE SPACE BETWEEN THE BIG AND THE SECOND TOE

REPETITIONS

3-5 in each position.

RECOMMENDATIONS

This is an exercise, which is good for all.

Very important if you feel a person has a lot of tension in the feet.

Elders may need this more.

Ballet dancers often need this work because of the effect of point work on their feet.

Pregnant women may find relief with this. 

This exercise is particularly important for people with back problems.

Sit crossed legged on the floor or in any position that is comfortable for you.

Take a hold of the left foot. Hold all the toes except for the big one

Take a hold of the left foot. Hold all the toes with the left hand except for the big one. Place the right thumb against the joint of the big toe in order to support it and with the other fingers gently lengthen the big toe and encourage the space between the big toe and the second toe. Bring the toenail in a line with the joint and not past it. Keep the toes on the same level.

STRENGTHENING THE ARCH OF THE FOOT

Look out for my You Tube video.

REPETITIONS

3-5.

RECOMMENDATION

This is an exercise, which is good for all.

Pregnant women may find relief with this. 

This exercise is particularly important for people with back problems.

It is good for people with fallen arches or flat feet. 

STARTING POSITION

Start by standing in the classic parallel position.

Draw the toes towards the heels, and the heels towards the toes, as if you were sucking the arches up. Hold for a bit and then very deliberately and carefully place the feet back against the floor being very aware of the alignment and the 5 points.

STRENGTHENING THE ARCH WALKS

Look out for my You Tube video.

REPETITIONS

As much as you feel you need. I used to do this morning and night like cleaning my teeth!

RECOMENDATIONS

This is an exercise, which is good for all.

Pregnant women may find relief with this. 

This exercise is particularly important for people with back problems.

It is good for people with fallen arches or flat feet. 

Once again draw your arches up and then simply go for a walk for as long as you want like that. When you want to stop very deliberately bring the feet back into the correct alignment with a conscious awareness of the 5 points.

The alignment of the feet is very important. The feet support the weight of the body any misalignment will cause strain somewhere. If the feet are not aligned the rest of the body will not be aligned.

Copyright : Jenny Colebourne.

Blog, Refined Pilates, Yoga, Zoom

THE SOUL OF THE FOOT. PART 1.  

A MAP FOR THE FOOT.  

AN EXERCISE TO OPEN UP THE TOES.

The exercises, practices or meditations are intended to be for every day life movement © not just at the time of exercise, whatever that exercises may be.

Feet.  Honoring the feet.  Grounding.  Feeling and Sensing the Earth. Feeling and sensing the power of gravity and allowing it, to fully affect us.

SUGGESTIONS.

Try a reflexology treatment before exercising.

Walk barefoot as often as you can especially in nature. Feel with your feet different surfaces such as mud, autumn leaves and beach pebbles.

Paint each toenail a different color to become more conscious of each toe.

Bring your awareness to the space between the big toe and the second toe. Paint or decorate this space with henna or lipstick. 

Reiki your feet.

Stamp your feet as in African dance.

Read and practice the grounding meditation (page 147) in Faeriecraft by Alicen and Neil Geddes-Ward. 

Remember people bow down to the feet of the guru.

Remember that Mary Magdalene washed Christ’s feet. 

Feet are to be revered. 

Experience having your feet washed and oiled by your lover or friend. 

Choose a lover or friend to honor their feet. 

Wear shoes that are made of natural materials, that breathe and are soft and pliable. Think of the Native American Moccasins.

Essential oils related to grounding are Myrrh, sacred as one of the gifts from the wise men to Jesus at his birth.

 Guinevere frequently used patchouli essential oil for healing.  Vetivert is an essential oil, which in addition, assists in balance and offers protection. 

Frankincense, another of the gifts to Christ. 

Rosewood and Elemi are oils that teach us to grounding in order to move into the highest and most spiritual of centers, the crown chakra. 

I suggest you add a few drops of these very precious oils to base oil or cream and massage it into your feet and legs.

Athletes in ancient Greece oiled their bodies before exercising. Make sure your essential oils are pure and of good quality.

Crystals helpful to feeling the earth are garnet, ruby, red jasper, black tourmaline, and smoky quartz. They can be placed in the room where you exercise or worn. 

Clean crystals before using them and then on a regular basis.

INTENTION.

To use the feet more consciously in a balanced way, sensitive to changes in alignment. 

Toes placed on bar of the Reformer (Pilates Equipment) in parallel.

To feel the earth, and the support of the earth, through the feet.

To use the whole sole and soul© of the foot.

To allow the feet to have a sensitivity softness and pliability which allows you to listen to the earth, gives you strength from the earth and allows you at any given moment to take flight in any direction.

To enjoy and participate fully with gravity

THE ENERGETIC AND MENTAL BODY.

The energy of the feet and legs is governed by the root, foundation or first chakra. This energetic center is associated with our relation to this earth, family and ancestors, tribe and country. It represents our life path.

The color of this chakra is a poppy red.

ALIGNMENT AWARENESS.

Start by looking at alignment of the foot and leg in the parallel position.

Standing, have your heels directly under the sit bones. (To find your sit bones (the Ischial Tuberosity), sit on the floor and rock side to side. Feel those bones? They are what we dancers refer to as sit bones.)

Imagine two parallel lines. Use the line of your floorboards if you have them. Place the big toe and the inside edge of the heel against these parallel lines.

To check that you have equal weight on both feet rock gently from side to side until you come to a point of balance. I suggest you start with a slightly larger rocking movement and then make it smaller and smaller until it is minute to sense where your weight is equally on both feet.

We now need to notice whether the weight of our body is centered on the middle of the foot and not to far back towards the heels or too far forward. At the outside of the foot you have a small bump called a Tuberosity. Check out The Anatomy Coloring Book. The ideal is to have your weight evenly distributed between the front and the back part of the foot. The front part of the foot would be the toes and the metatarsals and the back the heel. Place your index finger at the Tuberosity and open your thumb over the top of the arch. This gives you an idea of where the metatarsals end and where the center of the foot is. Stand upright and this time gently rock your weight back and forward starting with slightly larger movement and ending with tiny ones until you sense where your plumb line is. 

Please be aware that we are focusing on the feet now. 

The posture of the rest of the body will have repercussions but we are starting from the base up. It is impossible for the rest of the body to be in balance without the feet being properly aligned.

THE MAP OF THE FEET.

Imagine you have 5 points on the sole of the foot.

Point 1 is underneath the big toe, point two under the small toe, point 3 is at the outside edge of the heel, 4 the center of the heel and 5 the inside edge of the heel. Each of these points should have an equal amount of weight or pressure on them. Imagine that and energetic line extends straight down into the earth from each of these points. Imagine them going very deep and color them red, the color of the base chakra. 

Study a reflexology chart.

EXERCISE FOR FOOT PLIABILITY.

Choose a sitting position, which is easy for you. I usually sit on the floor cross-legged. Sit on a chair if you find this position challenging. 

Always handle your body with respect. Take right foot in your left hand. Remember the right side of the body is governed by the left side of the brain and relates to the masculine line, your father, your grandfather, your great grandfather. Remember your male ancestors with total respect as you do this. The right side of the body is associated with male qualities; it is the yang side strength, the peaceful warrior, positivity, protection, and hunting. Thread your fingers through each of the toes so the second finger will go down in between the space between the big toe and the second toe. The third slots in between the second and third toe and so on. You may have to press the fingers gently down in between the spaces. Remember the Reiki law “just for today do not worry”! Each time you do this your feet and toes will become more pliable whatever your age. Softly bend your metatarsals first in one direction then in the other. Remember that energy follows thought. Gently focus with love and respect into the area you are working with. If you have worked with the anatomy colorings see the bones as you do the movement. 

You might want to pause as you move into the point of stretch. Notice where you may have resistance or perhaps even pain, have your tender focus there and breathe out visualizing the resistance melting away. You may wish to repeat this a few times.  Allow yourself to move into a new space in the foot. There is a continuous process of surrendering. The more you move into new spaces in the body the more joy reveals it self. 

The number of repetitions is not important. Deep work transforms and the memory of it stays in the body. Move into a timeless zone where anything is possible.

Usually I suggest that you notice simply the number of times you need to do this on the right foot and then do the same number on the left even if you feel one side less pliable for reasons of balance.

It is important not to judge any thing you feel but simply be with it. Judgment closes the door on new more profound information revealing itself as well leading us of in a direction away from our 100% attention on the body. Allow your body to speak to you. Allow your foot wisdom to reveal itself to you and in the process allow the body healing in motion©

Copyright Jenny Colebourne.

Blog, Illium Center of Light, Jerome Andrews, Refined Pilates

FOURTH SPINAL SUCCESSION. THE MERMAID.

I have shared with you that Jerome Andrews said that Joseph Pilates spoke about 4 spinal positions or successions. I have written blogs on the first 2. See my blog on the First Spinal succession here https://jennycolebourne.com/jerome-andrews-pilates-the-first-spinal-succession/(opens in a new tab), about the Second Spinal Succession https://jennycolebourne.com/second-spinal-succession-and-position-for-refined-pilates-and-yoga/(opens in a new tab) Here is the 4th.

The fourth spinal succession has to do with lateral bending.

The Mermaid is the perfect exercise to explore this.

MERMAID.

RECOMMENDED.

This exercise is good for everyone. The starting position may sometimes bother those with knee problems but you do have more than one starting position to choose from. Hopefully one will suit the student.

PREGNANCY 🙂

Pregnant women can do this exercise throughout their pregnancy.  At a certain point when the belly gets larger it is better to sit cross legged or in the second starting position.

LEVEL.

Intermediate.

REPETITIONS.

 3 – 5 on each side.

NOTES.

This exercise is performed  in smooth, continuous way, with flow. The breath is always just as important as the movement.

Jenny with Pilates student and dancer Ariadne Kitsou

STARTING POSITION.

Sit on the left hip with both legs bent. The knees are pointing forward and form a zig zag. Relax in the right hip and lower it to the floor. Have the spine long and proud. The pelvis is square to the front. The arms are at the sides of the body, gently rounded as if framing the body.

There is an alternative starting position which is called 4th position in contemporary dance. This is the position shown in the picture. Sit on the left hip. Both knees are bent but this time the front leg is bent at a  45% angle and the shin bone is parallel to the front of the mat. The right knee is bent inwards and goes behind the body. Once again relax in the right hip and has far as possible lower it to the mat. The pelvis is square to the front. The arms are at the sides of the body, gently rounded as if framing the body.

Your focus is in the *middle body.

The arm can come a little closer to the ear.

BREATHE IN.
Being careful not to hyper extend the elbow, feeling the support of the left lung and shoulder blade, raise the left arm to the side and above the head in a wide, graceful arc. Keep the shoulder soft, slide the shoulder blade downwards without strain and bring the arm as close as possible to the ear. Make sure the hand and fingers have shape but that they are not tense. Once there is tension in the hand and fingers there will be tension in the shoulder. Feel the fingers extending out into space.
Feel the sit bones rooted and the crown of the head lengthening to the sky.

The arm could come closer to the ear.

BREATHE OUT.
Lengthen the spine, keep the left hip rooted to the floor and lifting up and over, bent the spine to the right. Keep the body on one plane, this is just a lateral movement which means  both shoulders will be flat to the front. The head moves as a continuation of the spine. Think of the crown of the head as being the last vertebra. At the same time the right elbow comes to the mat directly under the shoulder joint. The forearm  and the palm of the hand are parallel to the front of the mat. Make sure the underneath arm does not block your stretch. Slide it further out if you need to. Feel as though the fingertips and the crown of the head are being drawn out into space. The side of the body facing the mat should soften and condense in order to allow the the stretch in the side of the body facing the ceiling.

BREATHE IN.
Stay in the stretch. Feel of the side of the ribs, facing the ceiling, filling with your breath.

BREATHE OUT.
Deepen into the stretch by relaxing where you feel a resistance or pulling and surrendering the torso and arm to gravity. Remember to keep the opposite hip grounded. Imagine the side of the spine facing the ceiling and how the spaces in between each the vertebrae will be open like a fan.

BREATHE IN.
Roll back up vertebra by vertebra, starting, truly, from the very base of the spine, the tip of the coccyx. You place one vertebra on the other as you move up. This is the fourth spinal succession. As you come up have a picture in your head of where you will return to. You will return to your axis feeling the sit bones like they have roots going deep into the earth and the crown of the head lengthening up into space.

BREATHE OUT

Open the arm to the side and bring it down beside you.

*Middle Body. Imagine your body as if it were in 3 slices. Front body, back body and between those is the middle body.

Blog, Illium Center of Light

FRONT LUNGE ON THE WUNDA CHAIR

PRECISION    BODY    TONE    GRACE    BALANCE    CONTROL  

Open space in your body.

LEVEL

INTERMEDIATE EXERCISE. 

For people who have mastered the basics of Refined Pilates and, especially, leg alignment. Please look at my blog https://jennycolebourne.com/good-leg-alignment-is-essential-for-everyone/

SPRING AND EQUIPMENT SETTINGS.

Medium Support. On my Wunda Chair, one spring up and one down is good.

The exercise can be done with, as shown in the photos, or without the poles.

The poles afford a very light and subtle support. They are not meant to be leant on!

Themis Andreaoulaki, Dancer and Refined Pilates Teacher Training Graduate. Starting Position.

STARTING POSITION.

Stand facing the bar. Place the hands on the handles for a modicum of support. Press the bar down with the toes of the left foot. Mount the bar. Place the right foot, in parallel, on the back edge of the seat of the chair. Softly spread and lengthen the toes. The knee is bent and the knees cap is in a straight line with the space between the first and second toe. The left leg is straight, the toes are spread and are on the bar. The heel is soft. It is in, what dancers call, “demi relevé”. The front of ankle is soft. The foot stays in this position throughout the exercise. The left leg is in parallel.

Think of the bones that form your pelvis and bring your pelvis so that it is centered between the legs. Bring the iliac crests in a line. This will probably involve softening in the hip joints. Make sure the triangle of the pelvis ( the two iliac crests and the front of the pubic bone are in one line. This will usually mean an enlivening of the pelvic floor, the engagement of the deep abdominals and an allowing of the coccyx to be free and hang. The spine in in the second position (see my blog) https://jennycolebourne.com/second-spinal-succession-and-position-for-refined-pilates-and-yoga/ or naturally straight, with the curves present.

The palms of the hands are placed on the top of the handles. They very softly push down for support. Use the support, soften your shoulders and gently widen between the elbows. The collar bone is open.

If you do the exercise without the help of the poles you can extend the arms to the side, or have the left arm forward and the right to the side.

Having the left arm forward reminds you to keep the left hip forward.

It is important to sense the extremities, to feel the toes at all points of the exercise, and their contact with the bar, and the crown of the head actively lengthening upwards.

BREATH IN

Feel the air traveling into the back of the lungs. Lengthen the ribs away from the hips to create more space.

BREATH OUT

Feel the toes on the bar, it is as if an energy rises from there, connect the pelvic floor, in your mind’s eye feel the that energy rising up through your axis and out of the crown of the head. It is as if the crown of the head is being drawn out up to the sky. It almost feels as if you are being pulled upwards and out into space. 

Feel the right foot very firmly on the seat of the chair. Feel gravity and press into it (be extremely vigilant about the foot alignment).

Allow the springs to lighten. They help draw you upwards.

Themis Andreaoulaki, dancer and Refined Pilates Teacher Training graduate at the top of the movement.

BREATH OUT

Leave the crown of the head where it is and gently and smoothly lower the bar.

NOTES

Keep the two iliac crests facing front throughout.

You can come up into a balance on one leg (arabesque), on the seat of the chair, either each time, or on the last repetition.

REPETITIONS

3-5

Blog, Refined Pilates

WUNDA CHAIR

FOOT WORK 

VARIATION WITH THE LEGS IN PARALLEL IN “HIGH RELEVÉ” 

(ON THE TOES WITH VERY HIGH HEELS)

SPRINGS.

On my Wunda Chair, which is hand made, I use the combination of one spring up and one down. I have three positions to choose from. Look for a moderate amount of resistance on your Wundq chair. A resistance that gives you the support that you need but is not so strong that you cannot take care of the finer details of the movement.

LEVEL

The Wunda Chair Foot Work is more challenging than the Foot Work on the Reformer because you need to maintain the axis of the spine without the support of the carriage. For this reason I would class it as an intermediate level of exercise. I recommend you first try the exercise under the guidance of a good and experienced teacher.

REPETITIONS.

10 times in each position.

SUITABILITY.

The exercise is suitable for most students of all ages, including those with scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis. It is a great way to do “Leg Work” when you are pregnant. You may need to open the feet, hip width apart, in the later stages of pregnancy. And, of course, the exercises are great for after you have given birth. Many people who have hip, knee and ankle problems can successfully do these exercises if they take good care of their leg alignment. Please refer to my blog…

BREATH IN.

Breath in feeling as if you fill the whole of the back of the lungs with air, every cell. Imagine that the air is expanding all of the area from the to of the shoulders down to the last ribs. If you think about how large the lungs are it gives you a great sense of support.

Start the in breath slightly before the movement, as if the breath initiates the movement and then have the breath accompany the movement, lasting as long as the movement.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOES AND THE FEET AS SITES OF SUPPORT.

Spread and lengthen the toes and place them on the bar. Emphasise the opening of the space between the first and second toe. The feet are together. Lift the heels very high, relax the back of the ankle to allow the heel to lift and make sure that you keep the heels together. Sense all the toes against the bar. Press with all of the toes but press more with the big and the second toes This is your site of support. At the same time engage the muscles of the pelvic floor press the bar down. Take it down only as far as the spine remains in a state of balance, on it’s axis. Be careful you don’t move forward, at all towards the legs. It does not matter if the bar goes all the way down or not.

As you press the bar down, in this way, you will feel the spine lengthen automatically even more. Feel as though the crown of the head moves up in the opposite direction to the movement of the legs, to the ceiling.

BREATH OUT.

When you breath out, empty the air completely for the lungs. (There is no need to push as you do this.) During the out breath the abdomen naturally moves inward, take advantage of this natural impulse and relax the abdomen into the inside edge of the spine. If you are too tense it does not happen and you loose this support and a lot of energy unnecessarily. Match the speed of the out breath with the movement. The movement is slightly slower than the pushing down.

Let the the springs bring the bar up. In the meantime focus on softening very deeply infant of the hip joints and maintain the length in the spine. Make sure the ankles remain in the same position. 

THE THORAX AND THE DIAPHRAGM ARE RELAXED THROUGHOUT.

The thorax simply floats directly above the bowl of the pelvis. A very common correction is to put the ribs in but this simply creates tension in the diaphragm which in turn blocks the effortless, deep breathing which is such an essential part of each exercise. Looking from above you would see the head floating directly above the shoulder girdle, the shoulder girdle directly above the thorax and the thorax above the pelvis. One on top of the other. It is a state of balance.

The diaphragm is free to move fully creating free, full breathing and a beautiful massage for all the organs of the body and the spine.

WITH EACH REPETITION YOU GET TALLER. THIS IS SOMETHING CLEARLY VISIBLE AND NOT IMAGINED.

STARTING POSITION.

Themis Andreaoulaki: Dancer and Refined Pilates Teacher. I am proud to say one of my graduates!

Sit on the chair facing towards the bar. The spine is on it’s axis.  Sit in the middle of the seat. The closer you sit to the front edge of the chair the more challenging the exercise. You can try this as you get more advanced. 

PLEASE CONSULT THE NOTES ON THE FOOT AND LEG ALIGNMENT in my blog https://jennycolebourne.com/good-leg-alignment-is-essential-for-everyone/

The arms can be in the following positions:

1. Straight with soft elbows on either side of the body, forming a frame for the body.

2. Cossack arms.

3. Holding a stick, magic circle or ball in front of the chest.

The last two variations can be useful, in that your teacher can have a clearer view of what happens to the spine during the exercise. Or you can check yourself in a mirror.

“COSSACK ARMS” DETAILS

I have chosen “Cossack Arms” for the photographs. Here are some details of how to maintain this position with grace and ease.

Imagine that your collarbone is twice as wide as what you see. Very subtly send the shoulder joints slightly back of the collarbones. You may feel your shoulders blades glide a little closer. The arms are parallel to the floor, imagine they are supported by water and this should help you not to gather tension in the shoulders. The middle fingers hold on to the skin just above the opposite elbow.

Make sure that you feel the breast bone is wide. There is a sense of subtle opening between the breast bone and the ribs. At no point does the breast bone drop or close.

FINDING YOUR AXIS AND A LONG SPINE

Make sure you are sitting directly on your pelvic floor. If you find this hard you may wish to put a firm cushion under your sit bones. 

Imagine the pelvis from underneath, the pubic bone, the sit bones and the tip of the coccyx. Sit directly on top of this space. 

Imagine a line extending from they center of the pelvic floor down into the earth. This line also travels up and leaves out of the crown of the head. This is your axis. It is an imagined line of energy. The spine maintains it’s natural curves which touch this line at different points. The spine feels light and long almost as if it were hanging from the crown of the head.

SECOND POSITION OF THE SPINE

According to Jerome Andrews, Pilates referred to the straight spine as the second position of the spine. See my blog on the Second Position of the Spine.

Focus into the center of the spine.

If you think of the body as having three “slices”, front, middle and back.  Be in touch with the middle body.

THE PELVIC FLOOR AND THE INTERNAL ABDOMINAL MUSCLES.

Support your elongated spine by energising the pelvic floor. This is not a tightening but rather an almost archetypal energy which moves up through the body and which engages and connects with the internal abdominal muscles through a fascial connection. The abdomen is pulled into the inside edge of the spine. Each out breath helps us increase this sensation.

BREATH IN.

Breath in feeling as if you fill the whole of the back of the lungs with air, every cell. Imagine that the air is expanding all of the area from the to of the shoulders down to the last ribs. If you think about how large the lungs are it gives you a great sense of support.

Start the in breath slightly before the movement, as if the breath initiates the movement and then have the breath accompany the movement, lasting as long as the movement.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TOES AND THE FEET AS SITES OF SUPPORT.

Spread and lengthen the toes and place them on the bar. Emphasise the opening of the space between the first and second toe. The feet are together. Lift the heels very high, relax the back of the ankle to allow the heel to lift and make sure that you keep the heels together. Sense all the toes against the bar. Press with all of the toes but press more with the big and the second toes This is your site of support. At the same time engage the muscles of the pelvic floor press the bar down. Take it down only as far as the spine remains in a state of balance, on it’s axis. Be careful you don’t move forward, at all towards the legs. It does not matter if the bar goes all the way down or not.

As you press the bar down, in this way, you will feel the spine lengthen automatically even more. Feel as though the crown of the head moves up in the opposite direction to the movement of the legs, to the ceiling.

BREATH OUT.

When you breath out, empty the air completely for the lungs. (There is no need to push as you do this.) During the out breath the abdomen naturally moves inward, take advantage of this natural impulse and relax the abdomen into the inside edge of the spine. If you are too tense it does not happen and you loose this support and a lot of energy unnecessarily. Match the speed of the out breath with the movement. The movement is slightly slower than the pushing down.

Let the the springs bring the bar up. In the meantime focus on softening very deeply infant of the hip joints and maintain the length in the spine. Make sure the ankles remain in the same position. 

THE THORAX AND THE DIAPHRAGM ARE RELAXED THROUGHOUT.

The thorax simply floats directly above the bowl of the pelvis. A very common correction is to put the ribs in but this simply creates tension in the diaphragm which in turn blocks the effortless, deep breathing which is such an essential part of each exercise. Looking from above you would see the head floating directly above the shoulder girdle, the shoulder girdle directly above the thorax and the thorax above the pelvis. One on top of the other. It is a state of balance.

The diaphragm is free to move fully creating free, full breathing and a beautiful massage for all the organs of the body and the spine.

WITH EACH REPETITION YOU GET TALLER. THIS IS SOMETHING CLEARLY VISIBLE AND NOT IMAGINED.

VARIATIONS.

  1. Toes, heels and knees together with the ankles in a soft relieve 9 the heels slightly lifted.

2. The feet apart in parallel with the heels in a line with the sit bones. (In this version it is easier to maintain the spinal axis.) Small balls or cushions can be placed between the ankles or between both the ankles and the knees. These aids should be used with care. Make sure they do not, in any way, interfere with the alignment of the legs but help bring an awareness of  leg alignment, the inner edge of the leg and the connection with the pelvic floor. The purpose is not to squeeze them, just enough pressure should be used to not loose them.

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