Thursday, December 1, 2011
On that note, if you have experienced bodywork and/or Rolfing™ by me, and feel inclined to review me on Yelp, please act on that impulse! Search for "Elaine Lee Rolfing" in Santa Cruz, register as a user if you haven't already, and type away. You would have my sincere and heartfelt appreciation.
Help others find me in a sea of strangers!
Thanks, over and out.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
|Biotensegrity Model by Tom Flemon|
It’s when some of those guy-wires become loose or flaccid—and then we do something requiring lumbar stability, like lifting a potted citrus tree—that problems arise. Lacking the lift provided by properly toned abdominal muscles, the spine essentially becomes a poorly aligned stack of bricks pulled catawampus.
So what to do? Careful instruction from a skilled pilates instructor will teach you how to activate all of the abdominals. I recommend one-on-one sessions at first so that you learn the proper technique, as pilates done properly is not as easy as it looks. It’s too tempting in a class to use poor form in an effort to keep up.
And remember, fluidity and adaptability are important, too. If you’re already a strong, compact fireplug of a gymnast, more pilates will reap diminishing returns. All things are better in moderation.
For a succinct introduction to biotensegrity, start with this excellent blog written by a senior robotics engineer at NASA: BeingHuman
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
This is another great article by Christopher McDougall, the author of Born to Run, in the New York Times Magazine about barefoot running. Sorry about the italics, by the way, this blog editor doesn't let me use the proper form for book titles. Or, more likely, I just can't be bothered to figure it out.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
This is too cute to pass up. Notice the array of strategies she employs to get her feet properly positioned. She cycles through her available engrams in various combinations. When none produce the desired result, she mimics her teacher by trying to move her own feet with her hands.
I recently read that it takes 10,000 repetitions to master a motor engram. A motor engram is a neural map created in the primary motor cortex of the brain that encodes a coordinated set of muscle movements. Mastery of an engram is associated with changes in synaptic efficacy along the neural pathways associated with the learned skill. It is like water taking the path of least resistance through a landscape, carving the terrain as it flows. This girl had yet to establish a motor engram to get her from normal standing to first position.
It is much more difficult to change an engram than it is to learn it the first time. "Old habits die hard." However, there is much research pointing to the plasticity of the brain and its neural mapping.
"It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks."
Monday, January 17, 2011
“Pull your quads up.”
We hear the wise words and suggestions of our instructors throughout the hour, telling us how to move, how to stand, and how to position our bodies for the greatest effect.
In yoga, one common theme (or so I hear from my clients. Admittedly, my yoga attendance is sporadic at best. Blame it on my yang-centric disposition) is to breathe through your abdomen. This makes a lot of sense, especially in a culture of stressed out people such as ours. We attend yoga class to get centered, get calm, and relax. Abdominal breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, changing the hormonal balance to a chemical mixture more supportive of calmness and peace. Thus, meditation and yoga practices benefit from the abdominal breath.
It is natural, then, to want to cultivate these qualities outside of class. Standing in line at the coffee shop, you consciously belly breathe. Walking the dog, you practice it again. You have fallen into a common trap: mistaking the anatomical cues of your instructors to mean: this is how you must live your life!
While abdominal breathing is useful for achieving a certain state of body and mind, we also need to maintain the capacity to breathe into the upper thorax. Indeed, we should be able to expand the ribcage in all directions--up, down, left, right, forward, and back--depending on the physiological need at any given moment. You only use 15% of your lung capacity while you are abdominal breathing. Thoracic breathing uses 75%. This is why, when you are doing activities that require a high energetic output, you revert to thoracic breathing. Furthermore, abdominal breathing exerts more pressure on the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor holds up your visceral cavity, including the bladder and (for women) the uterus. Constant, ceaseless abdominal breathing needlessly puts excess pressure on the pelvic floor, potentially weakening its functional ability to keep the visceral contents contained.
I’m not saying don’t breathe through your abdomen. If you’ve begun hyperventilating just reading that last paragraph, you definitely need to do some deep breathing in order to calm your system. What I am saying is that you don’t need to practice deep breathing all the time. Just as you don’t need to practice thoracic breathing all the time. Normal breathing inflates both the ribcage and the upper belly equally and to partial capacity. So allow normal breath to occur most of the time. We want to retain the capacity to fully breathe thoracically and abdominally when needed, realizing that they are two ends of the spectrum of possibility. And we should generally inhabit the middle of that spectrum, visiting the extremes on occasion when the situation, or your yoga instructor, calls for it.