It can be hard to remember that vision is not just "automatic." It requires the smooth functioning of a complex system of muscles and nerves. Because we are so highly visual as a species, the muscles of the eyes end up having a strong influence on the muscles of the neck and back, and from there the entire body! Using the eyes with greater awareness can lead to less strain, better balance, and a greater sense of security in movement. The two audio recordings posted here are similar in nature, but the "shorter version" is only 35 minutes a bit simpler, while the "longer version" is a bit more complex and runs to 50 minutes.
These recordings are from a four-part series on balance I taught in Boulder, Colorado in March 2016. It is four lessons that were taught over four weeks.
In the first lesson, we explore one of the fundamentals of human movement: crawling. After building awareness of the main factors in balance - contact with support surfaces, body position, and gravity - we slowly build up the movements that compose crawling. Crawling is a wonderful activity for activating the full range of the shoulders and hips, and it can help to ease fear of falling if one is already familiar with how to move comfortably on the ground. If you'd like to explore crawling in more depth, start with my earlier podcast, "Crawling #1", available below.
The second lesson address an issue common amongst people with movement disorders, as well as in the general elderly population - getting safely to the floor and back to standing. The loss of this ability has been correlated with lots of negative health outcomes, so it's a great thing to practice and retain!
The third lesson looks at the crucial element of side-to-side weight transfer as an element of balance in walking. Part of the lesson is done in walking and standing, while other parts are done lying down and sitting in a chair.
The last lesson focuses on the roles of the ankles in balance. Having a sense of range of motion in the ankle joints - up and down, and though to a lesser degree, side to side - can help us negotiate ground forces and the transfer of our body weight to the ground in ways that make balance much more approachable.
These two recordings are from a "Mindful Movement for Parkinson's" workshop in Denver, Colorado on January 17th, 2016. The theme for the workshop was "resting deeply quickly," and we looked at rest from various angles - how to rest from mental stress or exertion; how to adopt restful yet intentional postures lying on the ground, for refreshing breaks during the day; and how to reduce one's effort in movement, letting go of unnecessary muscular work that can cause tiredness over time.
In this 33-minute episode done sitting in a chair, we explore the four cardinal moves of the spine: folding (flexion), arching (extension), side bending, and rotation. These fundamental spinal movements are the basis on which all of our movement is built - standing up, walking, lifting, turning, and so forth. Clarifying the cardinal spinal movements is a great way to make all the movements of daily life easier and more enjoyable.
Can you sense most of your 24 vertebrae? How much range of movement might you gain if you could? To be able to sense one's spine and its movement is one of the fundamental bases of safe, effective, and enjoyable movement. In this classic 20-minute lesson, we explore mobility of the spine, pelvis, and hip joints - essential areas for balance and strength. The lesson is done lying on the back.
In this 38-minute lesson, done lying on each side and on the back, we explore spinal rotation - the ability of the vertebrae to rotate or twist. We also look at how deep breathing - which involves muscles related both to breathing and spinal posture - can increase the ease and range of spinal rotation. The lesson ends with some walking, exploring how healthy spinal rotation can become a conscious part of walking and swinging the arms. This lesson was taught as the second lesson during a Mindfulness for Parkinson's workshop, so it would make sense to do it after having done the lesson "Mobility of the Shoulder Blades."
In this 40-minute lesson done lying on the back, we explore the range of movements available to the shoulder blades. With gentle movement, we try to "unglue" the musculature that binds the shoulder blades into a fixed position in relation to the spine on so many people, thus hindering movements like reaching, carrying objects, and turning the steering wheel of a car. This lesson was taught as the first of a two part series at a Mindfulness for Parkinson's workshop, with the second being "Spinal Rotation."
In this 47-minute lesson, we practice a movement done many times a day in everyday life - going from sitting in a chair to standing, and vice-versa. By clarifying the biomechanics and skeletal anatomy of the movement, we learn how to come up from sitting in a balanced and easy way. This is a great lesson for improving balance, coordination, and strength! This lesson requires a chair, preferably one that is flat or at least that the seat does not incline backward. You'll need to be able to sit toward the edge of the chair. If your knees are higher than or equal in level to your hips when you sit on the chair, put a cushion or two on it to get your hips higher than your knees. You'll also need a mat or blanket to do parts of the lesson lying on the back. Lastly, for an excellent video demonstration of this lesson CLICK HERE.
This 35-minute lesson begins in walking, then is done mostly lying on the front, with intervals on the back. By slowly recreating the movements involved in crawling, we can reactivate old neural patterns, awaken the hips and ribcage, and find greater flexibility in the spine and neck. Not to mention - it's a lot of fun!
In this 43-minute lesson done lying on the back, we develop the self-image of the feet, seeking a sense of width from spreading the toes and visualizing width in the sole of the foot. By refining our awareness of the bony structure of the hands, the structure of the foot becomes a bit clearer. After simulating walking while lying on the back, we come up to test out the sense of wide feet in walking.