Experiencing Depth Through my Movement

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?

 

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How I Move with a Tight Neck and Knee Pain -Feb 8 – 4x speed

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.

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Integrate Play into a Busy Study Day – Feb 3

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.

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Spiral Staff and Wrist Mobility Movements -Jan 30

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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Five-Minute Early Morning Movement Restoration -Jan 29

“I don’t have time to move,” is the most common thing I hear. I hear it not only from my clients but more importantly, from within myself. It’s that nagging little voice that tells me “I’m already doing too much,” or “I deserve a break.” Sometimes it’s true, but most often it is a fabrication.

My schedule feels slammed, 16+ hour days, starting at 6a, with very little breaks between clients, study, and parenting. There are days where I don’t have time for a designated time-consuming movement session. Instead, I have to feed movement to my body in 30-seconds to five-minute snack breaks.

That is the case in this five-minute early morning movement restoration session. I moved all day, throughout the day with clients, but still needed a bit more. This five minute morning routine felt like infusing strong coffee directly into my body. I felt opened up and ready to flow. The rest of the day was slammed. Some days this is all I can get and I’m grateful I didn’t listen to the voices in my head telling me I didn’t deserve it.

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Movement Restoration w/ Hand to Shoulder Stability and Balance Challenge – Jan 27

After last nights gentle movement session, tonight I realized I needed to work a bit. This was a really nice Movement Restoration session with a focus on hand to shoulder to core work. It warmed me up really well and had a nice level of challenge. I kept the movements as slow and fluid as possible while pushing my edges.

This is the best shoulder ROM I’ve had in months. It’s hard to believe that six weeks ago I could barely move my arm in certain positions. I’m pretty pleased with the level of recovery. I still have a long way to go to get back full function.

This was the second half of the night’s Movement Restoration. My shoulders feel really good, so I feel like pushing myself a little bit… but not too hard. Considering the combinations of knee pain and being only a few weeks into recovery for elbow tendinopathy, I can’t do high intensity… It’s too risky and not worth it. At 44, and with my injury history, setbacks can be huge. So I have to skirt the line of pushing myself and listening to my body… I’m not always successful…

I loved this workout. I worked on crawling variations focusing on moving slow and controlled, which can be pretty damn hard. I felt strong in all the positions. I found a balance movement that really challenged me. I love being frustrated by movements. I love the challenge of being frustrated by movements. It kicks my ego’s ass and felt like a really good workout for my hip stability and control.

The only downside to this workout is when I kicked up practicing handstands on the wall. I kicked off with my left leg and felt a pop in my knee. It felt like a good pop, but considering all the pain I’ve been feeling, it has me nervous. Thankfully I got to finish off on a bright spot with two relatively slow and controlled chin-ups that felt really solid. I haven’t been able to do a single pain-free chin-up in months. Another good sign of recovery for my shoulders.

I will monitor both shoulders and knee tomorrow.

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Much Needed Self Care – Jan 26

It was a tough, challenging, and overall good week. With the second week of school (the first full week without ice days), my schedule has blown up. I love school. I love my work. I love being a father. These things fill my cup and keep me going. They also stress and strain me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I haven’t filmed my movement as must this past week, which means I haven’t been moving as much as I’d like. Not only has my schedule become super busy (16+ hour days), but my knee has gotten worse. The irritation in the joint has been slowly increasing over the past few months. It’s bad enough that I made a trip to the doctor, got x-rays, and an ortho appointment scheduled for two weeks. I

Pain sucks. It sucks to hurt. It makes it hard to move. I feel a little down all over. There have been times when I would feel depressed. It sucks, and it’s a fact of life. A reality for this body that I inhabit. When I physically hurt, it doesn’t matter how great I’m feeling in life as a whole, a part of me is sad and frustrated.

I have taken a break from the balance challenge over the past four days and have reduced squats and split squats at repetition to give my knee a rest. I’m hoping the inflammation will go down. I’ve been moving at every little opportunity possible, but this is the first dedicated movement session I’ve had all week. I’m feeling stressed physically and emotionally. I needed a session to really be soft and check in with my body.

I focused on deep breathing and allowing myself to feel the week I’ve had. I felt my whole body open up physically and emotionally. It was just what I needed.

This is a really nice spinal mobilization Chair Yoga. I picked this up from one of my teachers, Joseph Schwartz of Applied Anatomy (you should totally check out his material).

I love this simple little routine. I express my spine pretty fully through flexion and extension, lateral flexion and extension, and rotation.
I think that anyone who spends any amount of time in a chair needs to actively move their spine in all three dimensions from the seated position. I can feel nice long connected stretches from my fingertips to my shoulders, thoracic and lumbar spine, hips, and knees. I have more of an instructional on this movement series on my client’s playlist.

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Morning Dose of Movement Caffeine – Jan 22

“I don’t have time” is something I hear in the back of my mind often (It is often a response from clients too). I can easily buy into it. My schedule is busy. Between being a full-time dad, full-time student, running a private practice, and having some semblance of a social life (which is almost non-existent), time is a most precious resource that I am often fighting with or squandering. But just because my “time” is precious, doesn’t mean I don’t have time to spend on caring for my self. The “story” that I don’t have time to care for my self is a total lie; a fabrication born through resistance, and I don’t have to buy into that story.

The simple reality is that It doesn’t take much time to practice self-care. A minute here and there; sometimes more; and 30-60 minutes when the opportunity arises.

This is a really quick and simple eight-minute movement session I did in the morning. It could have easily been 3-5 minutes long, but it felt good, so I kept going.

Once I was finished, my body felt connected, integrated, opened up, and energized. I like to call this a dose of movement caffeine.

Have you had your morning shot of movement caffeine?

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Using Climbing as Rehab – Jan 21

It’s been seven or eight months (maybe even more) since I’ve been able to do a pain-free pull-up… I’m still waiting. I do a chin up here, but it is painful on the way down. It’s not tendinopathy pain, it feels more like the inability for the Flexor Pollicus Longus to eccentrically lengthen (a possible precursor to tendinopathy). It’s actually been a few months since I’ve even been able to bring my feet to the bar, so this feels like a huge improvement.

In this video, I’m working on basic climbing exploration, stressing the hand to shoulder complex just enough without eliciting pain. This is great for grip strength and developing scapular stability. After I noticed the pain with the pull-up, I grabbed a bench to unload some bodyweight and grove the movement with less load and no pain.

This is the best my right hand/elbow/shoulder have felt in a long time, but there is still a ton of room for improvement.

Using Climbing as Rehab

Self Massage using a Foam Roller

I am a big fan of self-massage using tools such as a foam roller, Yoga Tune up ball, Yamina ball, Thera-cane, etc. I don’t get into the science and/or pseudoscience of why I love it. My practical experience of self-exploration self-massage, as well as hands-on experience touching others, tells me that there is definitely a value in massage therapy. What that value is and how it works are definitely up for debate.

When I was first introduced to the foam roller over 12 years ago, it was a godsend. I became addicted to it. I would spend 1-2 hours rolling and stretching almost every night. This daily personal exploration is what lead me towards getting my massage license so I could legally touch my clients.

It is also what moved me into the direction of natural movement. I realized over time that every night I would roll out my pain and feel temporarily better and wake up the next morning with the exact same pain. I wasn’t interested in temporary results. I wanted to feel better and slowly learned that I needed to move better. This only took me about 10+ years to figure out. Well to be perfectly honest, I’m still figuring it out.

I no longer get on the foam roller nightly, although I do like to get on it just to adjust and mobilize my spine. I find that somewhere between once a week and once a month I like to do a full body self-massage session. It is a great way to feel what is happening within my body on the tissue level.

This past week, I have ramped up the volume of movement to my body. I started swimming again, went on a bike ride, hiked, as well as walking back and forth across campus with a 30-40 lb backpack. My body was more than ready for a focused self-massage session. This felt really good.

I finished up with a few minutes of movement restoration. I could really feel a difference in my hips (particularly with the pigeon position).

Note: I have over 12 years of experience with a foam roller. I know my body very well. The movements I am doing are not recommended for beginners to intermediate users. You can hurt yourself on a foam roller. Please use caution. Or better yet, hire someone who is highly skilled as a movement therapist to teach you.

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The Process of Being a Human Mover

I like to think about the process of being a human mover. Not just the actual moving, but also the creating of intention; set up of a space whether permanent or temporary; type of music that influences movements or no music at all; and what is in my heart (am I feeling resistance to moving my body; am I angry; am I trying to beat myself up for some perception of fault in my being; etc)

This video is my process of moving on a Friday. I have a nice open studio space to practice movement and there is a setup ritual I go through. I like to think about things such as the rituals of movement and the contextual nature of different environments such as soft, hard, abrasive, etc and how these different environments are an ongoing conversation with the sensory system of the body. I like to set up my mats for most of my floor work because they provide soft feedback while I’m doing soft focused work on myself.

I don’t take appointments with clients on Fridays. It is a day to study, do housework, run errands, and most importantly practice some self-love. This was an hour and ten-minute self-love making session (non-sexual). I tended to both my body and my heart. In these sessions I allow myself to feel where there is tension, restriction, resistance, and pain in both my physical body and also my emotional body. Sometimes these sessions bring tears, sometimes rage, and always a sense of gratitude, love, and empathy for myself. Now that I am videoing and posting these sessions, it has brought a new level of checking in. I don’t want to perform for the camera, which means I have to pay even greater focus on how I am feeling moment to moment, as well as why I am choosing to move the way I move. I feel incredibly vulnerable. This is the movement practice that I’ve developed in isolation for years. This is what I do alone. I’ve never shared it with anyone, much less social media. My work is to remain completely authentic to myself even though I am sharing my process with others. It feels powerfully strong to expose my vulnerability. There are a ton of other things about this session that I really loved. I used the foam roller, not to mash muscles into control, but to release movement patterns that I was struggling with. I felt the re-integration of my core in specific patterns. I completely smoked my legs on the balance board. And I had a nice little restorative session after the board to reset my body.

Someone asked me a few days ago about whether my feet, ankles, and calves are smoked during/after these balance sessions. My answer at the time was no, that I’ve been integrating balance work for several years, and my intrinsic musculature was a strength, and it is the big movers (quads and glutes) that have been undernourished over the past year and a half due to my knee injury.

Well, in this session, my feet, ankles, and calves were totally smoked. Everything was harder about this session, possibly because I’ve added a lot of intensity to my movement schedule the past week. I had to put extra focus on maintaining my position on the beam and wasn’t always successful, which made this a Great balance session. I pushed my edges, placing a significant challenge to the muscular and vestibular system.

It is on the edges where I see the most benefit of this type of work. It is where my nervous system learns. If I don’t push the edges, I can remain on the board the entire ten minutes, but what does that gain me? The gym space is a laboratory – a safe space – to push the edges. In this setting, I WILL see failure frequently, simply because I can keep failure relatively safe and it’s a learning opportunity. That is the entire point. To allow my body to learn where the edges exist.

I can then take this knowledge into the natural environment and move within the limits my body knows it can handle. I develop a better sense of balance; improve the depth of positions that don’t cause pain and/or injury; build confidence in my movement competency, core integration, and strength.

I finished my day with a short swim. Swimming is something new I’ve added back in this week. I love swimming as a movement but didn’t have a membership to a pool that I could frequent regularly. So I haven’t had the chance to swim much over the past year. With my elbow and shoulder feeling much improved, swimming feels like exactly the type of physical stress my structure needs to get me beyond the next level of recovery. I have to take it slow. I can only handle about 15 minutes of work in the pool. I’m looking forward to building my swim conditioning to 30-45 minute sessions.

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