Last week was a hard week. I imagine it was a hard week for all of us. I was shaken, more than previously, to what happened in Florida…. Recently my life was touched by gun violence. Seeing the loss and devastation of a community touched me where I feel loss and devastation. Even though it didn’t happen here in Austin, I still feel it… rocked to the core of my heart.
On top of the above tragedy, I am also living my life, and that can be hard and challenging too. Last week I saw the transition of two really big relationships in my life. These transitions are good… but they still feel hard. As life moves from one stage into another… I feel the loss… the letting go of one thing so I can be open to something new.
My heart is heavy with the weight of this week. This is my focus in this movement session.
Movement Restoration with Deep Breathing and Going Deep Inside
I am hyper-focused on breathing into my body and feeling/listening to my heart. This is a much slower session. I take pause when I feel I can’t get fully into the depths of my breathe. I allow my breath to open up my ribs; expand my belly; move into my upper and lower back and side body; and down into the bowl of my pelvis. From this deeper place, I feel into where my body wants to move next and allow it to move where it needs to go.
I feel hurt, pain, sadness, hope, challenge, fear, and so much more. I feel it physically and emotionally because I am human. This is my honest place. At the end of this movement session, the weight is not gone… but it is lighter. This is Movement Therapy.
I often find myself saying things in my head like, “this was a hard and challenging week.” When I feel into what drives these thoughts, it isn’t coming from my simple truth. There are usually feelings of laziness and victimhood attached to the thoughts. It is as if I have some kind of expectation that these “challenging and hard” weeks I suffer through mean that I have earned or deserve easy… a day off, a week off, the rest of my life off.
At face value, it’s not a big deal that I have these thoughts, but when I juxtapose them to the decisions I’ve made in regards to how I spent my time over the past week, I see how I am allowing these thoughts to slowly shape me, and it makes me sad, angry, and wary.
It WAS a hard a challenging week. I had the first major test in a class that I’m feeling frustrated with. Test week is always challenging… by design. Fear and anxiety become my unwelcomed companions. I have placed a fair amount of pressure on myself to do well and a test is where the rubber meets the road. I either know what I’m expected to know or I don’t. On top of the test, some of my personal relationships have been strained and are being tested as well. I am being tested in life just as I’m being tested in class.
I did not perform as well at these tests as I would like. The feelings of laziness and victimhood coating my thoughts, fed the justifications for my actions of doing less. I could have studied more. I did not move my body as much. I questioned the truth of heart with self-doubt. I made it through the week, but I know (in hindsight) that I could have done better, and that frustrates me.
I am not perfect. Movement is my life, it is was I teach, it is how I support my family, and I struggle with it just like everyone else. I have chronic pain that is kept at bay when I move… I know this… Yet I still struggle. There is a beauty to the struggle. Movement is home for me. Just because I haven’t been perfect, and I can feel it in my body… physically and emotionally… I can always come home… and home always welcomes me with loving arms.
I haven’t made a movement session video since Monday. I have moved. I get in small breaks all the time, but I haven’t had a designated self-care session in several days… and I can feel it. The pain in my left knee has been elevated over the past several days – 3 or 4 on a scale of 10, and I feel it outside the joint space where it usually remains. My medial calves, adductors, hip flexors, and low back are tight enough to cause discomfort. I can also feel that the tendinopathy in my right shoulder is still lingering (I haven’t done much work on it over the past week or two). This is the reality of chronic pain with a lengthy injury history, my normal is not “pain-free”. My normal is that I will always be working on this stuff. My normal is that every week will be hard and challenging… simply because… I will always have to work harder… just so I do not hurt so much.
There will be no easy days, or weeks, or life. This is a reality I come back to over and over and over again. Every time I do; after I kick and scream and cry for a bit; after my little tantrum, I am reminded that this is what I’m here for. I am here to be challenged and I would be miserable with an easy life. Once I feel a peace with this, (sometimes harder to come to than other times) I am ready to love on my body once more.
The second half of the session I spent doing Movement Restoration and Exploration. This included joint manipulations of the feet, hips, spine, and neck. It was late when I started this session and I was tired. I didn’t finish until after 11p.
Things I noted in this session:
My left adductor was far more sensitive than the right.
I had a couple spots on both sides of my lumbar spine – multifidus or spinal erectors – that were related to macro level movement patterns.
I felt some significant restrictions in the movement of my neck on the left side.
It felt really good to mobilize and stretch my body from toes to fingertips.
I’m feeling more centered. Now to take what I’ve learned from this week and apply it to the next.
Yesterday I spent all day working in the backyard (hauling dirt into the new garden and protecting trees from the deer). I felt really good last night. This morning, my knee is a little more cranky, a 2 or 3 out of ten. Still within a good day pain range, but a bit more noticeable than yesterday. I also feel tightness on the right side of my low back (this is a pretty normal place for movement restriction).
This session is a much-needed movement prep for the day. I’m working on “oiling” up the knee to get is moving smoother in its own right and connect how it moves related to the whole system… especially the right side lower back. These little increases in tightness, restriction, and pain are my early indicators that my body needs to be recalibrated. It’s like the check engine light on a car. Ignore at your own peril.
Tight Low Back and Mild Knee Pain Movement Restoration
I’m building a garden and other backyard projects today. I’m picking up about 1000 pounds of the richest dirt you can get in Texas to move into my garden bed. I also need to create a barrier for my Loquat tree which the deer seem to have taken a liking.
Knowing I will be working outside all day… and it’s cold, at least Texas cold. Which is hovering around 33-36 degrees all day, I need to prep my body for moving.
This session is just a simple eight-minute movement preparation session to make sure all my muscles and joints are in order and ready to put forth some work. The past couple days have been pretty decent pain-wise down around a level 1 or 2. This is as close as I get to pain-free. So I’m pretty stoked about how I feel and want to take advantage of it while I can.
I got everything finished outside that I had planned. It took two trips to the Natural Gardener to haul dirt and a couple trips to Lowes as well. The kiddo helped a bit… mainly by not complaining too much about how cold it was. I got a few medium pots and a couple mint transplants for him (he loves mint). So he got to plant those. The garden looks good. The cages still need to be finished to protect it from the deer, but it is ready for seed. I am waiting for my seeds from the Seed CSA I ordered from. If you’re looking to start a garden or need help with seeds, I highly recommend contacting Don Tipping at Siskiyou Seeds.
My body still feels pretty good. It was a long day, but not overly intense. This was a nice twenty-minute restoration session with joint mobilizations and exploration.
Something I love about these movement sessions is that it forces me to slow down… breathe… and reflect. An opportunity to lay down my sword, take a break from the ongoing day to day struggle with life, step back and view the bigger picture, and simply become the observer in this human existence I find myself in. I am experiencing depth through my movement.
Movement is my bridge between the external physical world in which I bump up against, constantly out of control; and the internal world that is strictly me, the only place in which I have any ability to control. And I say control very loosely. The only thing I get to control is what I hold on to and what I let go.
When I breathe deeply, move deeply, feel deeply, and observe I get to see all things I’ve been holding onto that really don’t serve me.
It is in these moments of reflection that the beginnings of change take place. It’s just the percolating point of change… not the change itself. The change comes when I take this new knowledge and apply it in the real world where it matters.
The real world being the place where my internal slams up against the external. How I react when I’m frustrated at my son; when I get called out by a loved one; when someone cuts me off in traffic; or when I’m angry with myself because I’m not perfect. The more I apply what I learn in the laboratory of my movement practice, the more my external world reflects what I see from this internal world… and it’s beautiful. This is where I see my purpose. This is where I am allowed to fall, cry, yell, and fail. This is where I learn to live my purpose.
Man, once I get deeply into a place of feeling surrendered, I get to see a completely different viewpoint of my humanness. I see the convergence of Science, God, and a Conscious Spirituality (I can’t think of a better term for it). It is an awe-inspiring place. My goal is to one day be able to live from this place in my day to day existence… Not just my laboratory.
I call these sessions Movement Exploration. It is still Movement Therapy, but through adding in the exploratory and flow. I am feeling into my physical self-allowing my body to dictate where and how to move. It is a slow, unforced unraveling. I’m feeling out for restrictions in my movement system that are out of balance on the opposite side. Another thing I love about these sessions is that no two are alike. I let go of any preconceived notion of how I’m going to move. It is always changing, which makes sense when I think of how the way I move one day to another is also never the same. Why would the way I feed my body self-care movement be any different?
How do you experiencing depth through your movement?
This has been a challenging week. Not in a bad way, but in that way a schedule can feel completely overwhelming where you feel like you have no time to eat, breathe, sleep, or move. It was a challenging enough week that I decided to drop one of my classes to ease my semester load. My health has to be a priority. Overall, my body feels decent, all things considering. I am still dealing with a tight neck and knee pain. I have to continue to remind myself that I cannot push my way through school. Especially if it means that I am in worse physical condition when I’m done.
It was also a challenging week for movement. I had to fit in my movements during the small open spaces of the day such as deep squats between classes, chair neck, thoracic, and lumbar spinal mobility during class, joining clients during sessions or stretching in line at the grocery store.
This natural movement session is on Thursday evening at 9:30 pm. This is the first dedicated movement session I’ve been able to get in since Monday and my body was feeling it. I’m exhausted from the week. I have to get up early again in the morning. I wanted to go to bed, but I can feel it in my body that I need to move.
Tight Neck and Knee Pain
My knee has been painful all week. The irritation pain from a week ago has reduced a decent amount. The mid back pain has also reduced. I mainly feel it at the edges of thoracic rotation. The neck pain from two weeks ago is pretty much gone with just residual tightness bilaterally in the scalenes area. I’m taking all of these things into consideration as I explore movements during this session.
In this session, I exploring natural movements slowly, safely, and non-forcefully… listening to where my body wants to go. I work joint by joint from my toes to my hands. It feels like I’m working through a constant state of stretch focusing on maximum tension and maximum relaxation through the transitions of every movement. It feels wavelike and dancelike. I am allowing myself to get immersed in the music in the background, yet I am not dancing… I’m just exploring while paying attention to what feels safe and what feels painful.
This was an amazing session. I felt so much better afterward. Everything feels opened up and lengthened from toe tip to fingertip and my core feels adequately activated but not blown.
This is how I continue to move naturally with a tight neck and knee pain.
I am offering a new group class, Developing a Movement Practice. This will be a one-off experimental class focusing on exploring who are you as a human mover; developing the beautiful expression of your movement practice; and how to embrace play to prevent and reverse early onset boring adult disease.
This class will be based off what I do in my one-on-one sessions, except in a small group format. Which means it won’t look anything like what I do in one-on-one sessions. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what this class will ultimately look like. It will be a total interactive experiment. My primary goal is that you leave with a better understanding of your body, human movement, and the art of developing a movement practice.
Because this class is an experiment and I love the concept of Gift Economy, I am offering this class as a gift. I will not charge anyone who attends *(I will only charge if you sign up and no show). I have no expectation of any payment, donation or otherwise. **If you find value from the class that you feel strongly enough to gift back, I will happily accept your gift.
Cancellation or No Show
*This will be a small intimate group. I’m only opening it to four people. Please do not sign up unless you are committed to showing up ready to learn, participate, explore, and play. In the event that you do sign up, cancel within 72 hours, or no show, you will be charged $100. This policy will be strictly enforced.
**If you wish to give back but don’t know how much, my perceived value of this class is between 0-$100 per person.
For all the moving I did on Saturday, I did not on Sunday, and today I paid the price.
Some days I just don’t. I allow the little voice in my head to tell me “I don’t need to today” or “one day off won’t matter.” Sunday was one of those days. It’s not that I didn’t move. I went on a bike ride; played on the obstacle course and slackline; and did some work on the garden. But I didn’t do any Movement Restoration work.
Well, Monday had a message for me. I do need it every day and it does matter. My knee has been mildly painful for a few weeks. I can feel how much it affects my gait, which in turn leads to hip, back, and shoulder issues.
When I woke up, my mid to low back was feeling a bit tight. I had client sessions from 6a-4p, which provides me with a ton of moving opportunities. By mid-morning, however, the tightness became more pronounced as the day wore on. Thankfully this wasn’t the same level of back pain I’ve experienced in the past, but it was enough to give me pause. On a scale of one to ten, I’d place it around a 4-6… manageable but disconcerting.
I continued to get my micro movements whenever possible throughout the day. By the end of the day, I felt exhausted and ready for bed. Knowing that Tuesday means a day of walking across campus with a heavy backpack, I committed myself to this movement session.
In this session, I start off with the foam roller to loosen up the back. Then I go into full body Movement Restoration. As I’m moving, I’m reminded of something I said to a client earlier in the day. “Learning to draw outside the lines.” I love this concept with my exploration movements. There is no “right” way to move. I am being playful and learning how my body wants to move.
By the end of the session, I was able to move more freely with less discomfort. On a scale of one to ten, the pain was at a 1-2.
Update: After a long day on campus, my back feels considerably better than yesterday. It is still a bit twingy at the edges of rotation.
How do I integrate play into a day I have to sit for long periods of time?
The weekend is catch up on school work. I spent most of today studying, minus an hour at the lumber store. I have three chapters of chemistry to cover this weekend, a paper to write, and online lectures to watch. I knew early on it was going to be a day of sitting. So I set an intention to get up often and integrate play to give my brain a rest while stimulating my nervous system with movement.
I was able to film most of my study breaks. I started with this nice 10-minute movement session to open my body up.
I love doing balance work during study breaks. I find it is just the right type of nervous system challenge to allow my brain to rest intellectually while being stimulated. Afterward, I feel like I get a brain boost.
My knee is noticeably sore, not quite painful, but it’s speaking to me. Balance is considerably more challenged than it was a couple weeks ago. I have had to cut down on hiking and squats for repetition. Walking across campus is already an aggravation. I feel like this level of balance work is right at the edge of pushing my knee to recover without making it hurt worse. I feel like I’m walking a fine line right now. It’s going to be a few weeks before I have a better picture of why my knee hurts.
Even just a couple minutes of balance play on the slackline makes a massive difference in my studying. I find it great for stimulating creative thinking… Which is how I learn best.
The slackline really brings out the challenge with my left knee. It’s amazing how much pain can disrupt proprioception. Two weeks ago, my left knee was just as solid (or unsolid) as my right knee. Today it felt super hard to control, especially when I stood up from my left foot. I put more focus on standing on the left side.
After noticing how proprioceptively challenged my left leg was, I decided to add some challenge to my vestibular system. This really shouldn’t be so hard… But it was freakin hard. I haven’t been working on this much and I really need to.
I’m trying to maintain balance in different foot position while moving my head and eyes. The last couple minutes I had my eyes closed.
I am feeling a bit more control in my shoulders. A year ago, I could explore a ton more space on the parallette bars. Up until this past week, I stayed off of them for the past year due to shoulder and elbow pain. This is definitely a positive sign of more recovery.
This session was only a couple minutes, but I felt sufficiently physically challenged with a boost to my nervous system.
I’m finished with sitting to study for the evening. Instead, I put on a chemistry video while doing a Movement Restoration session. This felt perfect after a full day of school work.
I am loving staff work at the moment. It is super challenging. I love how it feels as I work to maintain my posture through a tall spine, with my shoulders engaged to my core, while reaching away through my heels, toes, top of the head, and arms. I was able to find an amazing full body lengthening of my spiral spine, side body, and backline from feet to fingertips.
This was a great finish to a solid day of moving. None of my movement breaks lasted longer than 10 minutes. All combined, I got over an hour for the day. Considering the amount of school work I have to get through, this was a better movement strategy for my body compared to sitting and studying for 8-10 hours in large blocks with a one-hour workout managed somewhere in the day. What I love most about today was that all my movement breaks felt like I was playing.
My brain won’t sit for long hours at a time and retain information and my body will revolt if I don’t move regularly. By taking short movement breaks, my body felt better as the day wore on; my nervous system felt appropriately stimulated; I felt more capable of tackling the coursework I’m attempting to learn, and I had an overall productive day.
I really didn’t want to move on this evening. My day started at 5:30a. I was at school from 7a-3p and then worked till 7:30. My knee was achy from trudging across campus. The hills wreak havoc by the end of the day… especially downhill. The voice in my head was very adamant that I needed to lie down. The more I checked in with my heart and body, the more I could feel the voice was wrong. It was because of my long day and achy body that I needed to move.
The next question was how hard. Did I need an easy restoration or a workout? I made my way to my movement space and proceeded to listen and allow my body to tell me what it needed.
In this session, I worked on wrist and shoulder mobility. I pulled out the staff for the second time in a week. I love using the staff to explore shoulder to hip mobility. I picked up some of these staff movements from my teacher Joseph Schwartz of Applied Anatomy. It is super challenging and feels amazing. I forgot how much I love using such a simple tool. The half kneeling spirals feel simply amazing. So much unwinding from the day.
I love working on my deep resting squat. Three years ago, I could not even get into the deep squat position without falling over backward. It took me about seven or eight months to just get down, but I could only hold it for about 10 seconds. It took me 6-8 more months to develop a full minute.
My deep resting squat is not perfect by any means, but this is a massive improvement, with room to grow. I’ve put in a ton of work and can feel the payoff in my body. I still experience chronic pain, but so much less of it is from back pain, hip pain, or neck pain.
In this session, I continue to play around with the staff focusing on the mobility relationships between the scapula, thoracic/lumbar spine, and hips.
By the time I finished with this short session, I was feeling really good about making the time to move as opposed to doing nothing. It was a choice well made.
Whenever I work on shoulder mobility, I make a point to add some stability work. This is a very short addition, but I was tired and already achieved what I needed from the evening’s overall session. My focus at this point was to load up the shoulders and try to get to bed by 10p. That 5a alarm clock is pretty daunting at this point in the evening.
I begin with some pendulum planks and then slow bear crawls. On these bear crawls, I like to exaggerate the stability movements of the scapula around my rib cage. I want to ensure that I can absorb the forward crawl from an open to a closed packed scapula and that I can drive away from the closed packed to open scapula going backward. This is to make sure there are no gaps in my scapular stability… which there are… and I’m always working on them.
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