How You Move Matters!

I want to show you a really cool video of pedestrians in New York City which was taken in the early part of the last century.

Watch the first video below.

Look how well these people walk!

See how upright they are.

Notice how their heads relate to their spines.

Check out how easily they walk.

Can you see how well they move through space?

Now check out below a recent video shot in NYC!

What do you notice?

The differences between the 2 videos are quite astonishing.

I’m sure that someone could write a thesis about the two.

The people in the first video just look calmer to me.

They look more self-contained and better organized.

Of course, this was taken before the 2 world wars, the flu epidemic of 1918, the phenomenal mechanization of the world with cars and TVs and telephones. Obviously, they had other monumental problems. For instance, Penicillin hadn’t been invented yet.

Can we see the influence of modernization in our posture and the way that we move?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling book  Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Techniquea mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

You can learn more about the Alexander Technique here.

 

Creating A Mindful Day With a Peaceful Morning

Would you like to be more mindful during your day?

How you start your day has a lot to do with how well your day goes.

Do you get up late every morning, swill down a cup of coffee and dash out the door or are you the person who gets up early and spends some time reflecting before the day?

I’m a firm believer in the latter. I wake up at 5:30 or so meditate, write, read, and then go feed my ponies.

Try it! Wake up an hour earlier than usual. At first, it may seem hard but once you have reset your internal clock it will become easier and you will relish this time of contemplation.

During this time you could start a meditation practice, do an Alexander Technique Lie Down, read something inspirational, write in a journal or spend some quiet time with yourself.

Perhaps this is the time you would like to go for a walk or a peaceful stroll. I wrote about strolling earlier. You can check out that article here.

This time you dedicate to yourself is self-care and guess what? Self-care is health care.

Not one person on this planet can take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself.

Now is the time to take care of yourself by building in time during the day when you can recharge and rest.

Creating an early morning practice of meditation and journaling, reading and reflection is a great way to start off the day.

I’ve created a little video or VLOG to spur you along! (No pun intended!) Click on the ponies below to see the video.

 

How do you start your day? Let me know how it goes for you- I love hearing from you!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

If you would like more information about the Alexander Technique then click here.

How to Walk Better!

Do you want to walk better?

Of course, you do! There are few things in life as gratifying and mind clearing as a walk or a stroll.

But what if you have difficulty walking? If your back hurts or your knees creak it is hard to get outside and go for a walk.

I’m not talking about a power walk.

I’m not talking about getting out there for the singular intention of getting your heart rate up or losing some weight.

I’m talking about a take-your-time mindful stroll. A time when you clear your head, notice nature, pay attention to your thoughts, your breath, your movement and reconnect with what is important in your life.

In my last two blog posts, I talked about the importance of the stroll and I gave some instruction on how to improve your walking or strolling. I would like to continue those lessons in this blog post.

  • You can read my earlier posts here: for strolling.
  • And here for the first blog post with walking instructions.

I want to take a moment to talk about the importance of your whole body–particularly the importance of your head and your spine in walking.

I’m going to introduce you to some basic principles of the Alexander Technique.

If you are not familiar with the Alexander Technique it is a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move and function more naturally. It has been around for over 125 years and was developed by Frederick M. Alexander. Alexander was an Australian actor who had chronic laryngitis. through hours of observation, he saw that the habitual way he breathed and held himself was creating the problem. He discovered that if he could stop these harmful habits his breathing and vocal projection improved.

You can learn more about the Alexander Technique by snooping through my website or here and here. 

In short, Alexander was causing his laryngitis and since he was causing the problem he could then–with careful attention to himself–undo the problem.

Alexander noticed that the way his head related to his spine determined how well he breathed, spoke, and moved.

The way that your head relates to your spine also effects how well you walk.

If you look at a very small child around the ages of 1-3 you will see that her head rests ever-so-effortlessly on top of her spine. Her back is straight. There is unity. Look at the photo below. See how her head is beautifully upright.

Now, look at her mom.

See how her head is very different. Her chin is jutting forward while the back of her head is tilting down.

I know the difference is subtle but it exists.

I go into this in more detail in my Amazon bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence. You can learn more about my book here.

So before we start to think about walking we need to think about how our head relates to our spine.

Stand up and repeat the following Guided Standing Instructions to yourself.

  • Think of softening your tongue and jaw. In other words, don’t clench your jaw or scrunch up your tongue
  • Allow the spine to spring away from the pelvis towards the head. Allow the head to release forward and up, so that the nose may drop slightly. Thinking up and forward then look ahead with the intention of walking towards something in front of you.
  • Now take a step and then continue walking. Tell yourself to walk through the big toe. Allow your knees to release forward. What do you notice?

When you are walking well you should feel as if you are floating.

Your feet may feel as if they are rolling along the floor. You may feel light and buoyant and you should feel propelled forward.

Last month I wrote about the importance of the big toe. I cannot overstate this enough. It isn’t just about walking from heel to toe.

To recap: when you walk well the heel meets the ground towards the outside of the heel. Your body weight then rolls diagonally across the large arch of the foot to the ball of the foot and then to the big toe.

The big toe has 2 very important jobs.

  • It plays a big role in maintaining your balance
  • It helps propel you forward.

Thus a free and flexible big toe is imperative for good walking.

This means that flexible, pliant shoes are also imperative.

Once again I go into this in more detail here.

Next, add the arms.

When you walk well your arms should swing by your side. Arm swinging improves stability and reduces the amount of energy used while walking. And here is a little bit of trivia: when runners want to increase their speed they are told to move their arms faster not their legs! So swinging your arms is important when going out for a walk.

When your left foot comes forward your right arm should come forward and vice versa. This is called cross patterning. Most of us cross pattern. When children crawl they practice cross patterning by bringing the opposite leg forward with the opposing arm. The cross pattern movement creates a pathway between the left and right side of the brain. This is one reason why it is so important for children to crawl; they learn coordination through cross patterning.

Cognitive issues such as dyslexia have been linked to an inability to cross pattern well. It has been my experience working with seniors that many lose the ability to cross pattern or swing their arms in opposition to their legs and thus their co-ordination suffers. The good news is that you can encourage and relearn how to cross pattern. Let’s try it!

I call this next sequence Wait, Shift and Turn. Take a hard chair like a kitchen chair or dining room chair.  Sit on your sitz bones. To find your sitz bones place your hands palm side up and sit on them. Do you feel the hard bones pressing into your palms? These are your sitz bones and to sit with any ease you must be sitting on your sitz bones.

Now shift your left shoulder forward. Keep your head looking forward. Return to neutral, by that I mean come back to sitting over both sitz bones with your shoulders squared. Next, do the opposite. Shift your weight over your left sitz bone and while attending to your directions bring your right shoulder forward while keeping your head looking forward and return to neutral.

Do several of these Wait, Shift and Turn sequences. Notice that it is as if you are walking on your sitz bones. I always feel as if I am in the Broadway musical West Side Story singing “When You’re a Jet” when I do this! This simple sequence helps to restore latent cross patterning.

Now stand up and walk and notice how much easier it is to swing the opposite arm to the opposite leg. If cross patterning is difficult for you then commit yourself to practice this daily. Eventually, you will improve the swinging of your arms as well as your balance and coordination.

A common position seniors adopt that interferes with their walking is leaning forward from the waist or upper back. In order to counterbalance their weight being so far forward, they bend their elbows and hold them up and back behind themselves. Look at yourself in your mirror and see if this is you. Just by looking at this position you can see how your balance is compromised. People in this position are often told to “stand up straight” and so they haul themselves up through the torso and shove their shoulders back.  As we all know all too well this never works. Let’s approach this habit another way.

As always stop and wait and give yourself your Guided Standing Instructions and ask your self to lower your elbows towards your waist and allow the arms to come forward and down. While you do this ask yourself to allow the spine to spring up towards your head.

Has your breathing improved with this shift? Are you more upright? What is your head neck relationship like? The release of your arms by your side provides a nice bit of direction up through the spine.

Now take a walk and allow your arms to swing. Here is something else to think about. Think about where you are coming from not what you are going towards. Think about what you are leaving behind you as you walk. This thought will allow you to walk taller.

Because the forward stance has become habituated it is going to take a lot of attention and easy practice to re-organize yourself with your elbows forward and down and your spine lengthening up towards your skull.

 

 

Most of us have a dominant leg when we walk and stand.

Usually, it is the leg that we start off with. It is probably the leg that you always use when you start to climb stairs. Sometimes it will be the leg that you lean on. Because this leg is the first to be engaged it is also the leg that will be overly tense. A simple way for you to spread the workload is to count up to three as you walk. Each stride will take one count. In this way, you will alternate the burden of the starting leg.

We all need to walk and walk more. Our culture is far too sedentary. I am not saying anything new, but if you don’t walk you won’t be able to walk. I have a saying it goes like this “If you do it you can do it but if you don’t do it you can’t.” It may seem obvious but it never is. If you want to walk then you need to walk. If you have not been walking much, it is never too late to start walking more.

The human body is designed to move. We are sitting ourselves to death. We need to walk every single day. Use walking sticks and set realistic goals for your self. You may start by walking to your mailbox and back. Increase the distance in increments. Do not overextend yourself. Add a few minutes at a time. When you increase your distance wait a few days before increasing again.

Give your body time to develop strength and endurance. If you find yourself getting tired then lessen your walking time for a few days. Your body responds to new challenges by becoming stronger. This is what exercise is all about. Challenge builds strength. But the challenge has to be appropriate. A goal of 30 minutes of walking a day may seem daunting at first, but by gradually increasing your time, soon it will become a reality.

Walking on different surfaces will also add a new level of challenge. Think about it, most of the surfaces we walk on are hard and flat such as flooring in your home or the pavement in your driveway or sidewalk. But we humans are designed to walk on grass, rocks, sand, and dirt. These surfaces are rough and not uniformly even. In short, pavement does not challenge you. If you don’t live in a large city you can easily add some rough surfaces to your walking practice. So grab your walking sticks and head out onto some grass or gravel!

We have spent time talking about how to walk so now let’s talk about why we walk.

There are two things I want you to embrace. Walking is exercise and exercise is movement. Don’t sell walking short. This is my soapbox. There is a whole fitness industry that wants to make you believe that you need this piece of exercise equipment or you need to be subscribing to this form of exercise in order to be effective. The result is that a lot of people are really intimidated. If you have a body and are reasonably mobile you can move. Even if you are unsteady on your feet you can still explore movement sitting on your hard chair.

You have learned many new skills. You have learned how to organize yourself in a way so that movement is easier. In particular, walking is easier and is more efficient. Set aside time in your day to go for a walk and think about yourself in this new and improved way while walking. This is mindfulness. Constructively paying attention to yourself is the way in which you will improve the way you move and react. Wear thinly soled flexible shoes. Stay away from heavily padded sneakers. Increase your walking in increments of a few minutes and space out the increments every few days. Use walking sticks to help with balance. Walk on uneven surfaces to challenge and improve balance and mobility. Count to three while walking so as to ensure an even and consistent gait. Make walking a daily activity.

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

 

 

Walk This Way! Why Your Big Toe Is Important.

When you walk or stroll well, your head leads the movement and your foot comes forward to prevent you from falling on the ground.

Have you ever heard that walking is “controlled falling”?

Toddler walking
Walking is controlled falling. Photo: Unsplash, Joao Alves

Imagine a child first learning how to walk.

Most adults shift their weight from side to side when they walk. If you were to exaggerate this movement, it would look like a waddle, but if you watch a child walk, they walk forward and straight.

Children don’t waddle when they walk.

One problem with the waddle is that you lose the momentum that each step generates. It’s as if you are applying a brake with each step. Instead, if you think of yourself walking forward and not side to side, you will discover that your legs and feet will dynamically flow underneath you. Walking dynamically with forward intention will make walking easier and more efficient.

Another problem with the waddle is that the foot doesn’t articulate with the ground in a dynamic way, thus having an undesirable effect on balance and stride. When your foot works well, it strikes the ground slightly to the outside and to the front of the heel. Your weight then crosses the large arch, the medial-longitudinal arch, over to the big toe.

Your big toe has two very important jobs. It helps you balance, and it propels you forward. Many adults do not engage the big toe at all. Instead, they hold the toe up and only walk on the soles of their feet. This inevitably results in the side-to-side waddle. People who do this to an extreme will create holes with their big toes on the tops of their sneakers and slippers.

If you were to exaggerate this movement, you would eventually shuffle.

The good news is that if you are shuffling now, with a little conscious thought, you can stop shuffling and move into a dynamic walk.

Shoes that fit well with a pliable and thin sole are essential for happy feet and dynamic walking. Here is a Keen sandal at Amazon. I absolutely love, love, love this shoe

Stay away from bulky, padded sneakers that, although comfortable, are not flexible.

Your toes need to be able to splay as you move. Your feet need to flex and adjust in order to keep you balanced.

Make sure that your shoes are large enough to accommodate this movement. Also, overly tight socks can impede movement and diminish balance.

If you are unsteady on your feet or you fear falling, hiking poles are a great way to ensure balance and gain confidence.

Whether you use one or two poles is up to you, but the added point of contact is a huge benefit. Used by hikers and climbers worldwide, the hiking pole is lightweight yet sturdy.

The pole height is adjustable, and it comes with a strap that goes around your wrist. To customize the height, hold your forearms at a right angle from your upper arm.

You can purchase hiking poles at many sporting-goods stores or at Amazon here.

Last week I talked about the benefits of turning your power walk into a stroll. You can see that article here.

Next week I will give  more instruction on how to improve your balance while walking.

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

Walk? How To Turn That Power Walk Into A Mindful Stroll!

 


Do you walk or do you stroll?

One of the best ways to savor summer is to take a stroll.

Don't walk instead stroll and slow down to admire the beautiful hummingbird.
Slow down, take a stroll, and cultivate mindfulness.
Photo: Andrea Reiman

You may be wondering why I use the word stroll instead of walk.

Taking a stroll is much different than taking a walk. A walk implies purpose, a stroll implies less intent.

A stroll allows for wandering. Just the sound of the word “stroll” is easier on the ear.

Walking has a job to do. Strolling is like going on vacation.

The Merriam Webster dictionary lists stroll’s synonyms as to saunter, to amble, and to ramble.

Oh, I like the sound of those words!

To take a walk means something else. It has a goal.

One walks for fitness. One walks to lose weight. You take a walk to clear your head. Some people take walks to elevate their heart rate or to increase bone density. Others take their dogs out for a walk. And still, there are those who walk to “get their steps in!”

 

But what if you changed your mindset about walking and instead took a stroll?

Instead of walking briskly to lose weight and improve your cardiovascular system, what if you intentionally slowed down to a stroll and noticed the birds singing in the trees or your neighbor’s blooming sunflowers?

On your next stroll, you may notice that you are breathing more deeply, that you feel calmer or that perhaps those negative anxiety-creating thoughts have calmed down. Your stroll has turned into an expression of mindfulness.

Are we losing sight of the value of slowing down so that we can relish our world…stopping to smell the roses?

 

 

Don't walk instead take a stroll and smell the beautiful roses.
Stop and smell the roses! Photo: Unsplash, Osman Rana

 

According to the Positive Psychology Program, among other benefits, a mindful stroll can:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase immune function
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate
  • Increase awareness
  • Increase attention and focus
  • Increase clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lower anxiety levels
  • Increase experience of being calm and internally still
  • Increase experience of feeling connected

Doesn’t that sound great! Who doesn’t want REDUCED STRESS!!!

I say let’s change the emphasis and take a stroll. Let me know how it goes. What do you notice about yourself and the world around you?

My next article will teach you how to stroll and walk better.

Here is another article on savoring summer!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

26 Ways To Savor Summer

Sunset in summer
Savor summer’s sunsets

Do you want to savor summer?

If you are like me you absolutely love summer. The long hours of daylight, the balmy air, flip flops, iced coffee, fireflies- to name just some of my favorite things. There are many reasons why I want to savor summer.

But before you know it summer is gone and the calendar says September and I am replacing the shorts in my closet with long pants and sweaters.

So often summer escapes me. Not this year!

This year, by being more intentional and mindful, I plan to make summer linger.

By bringing mindfulness into my life I will slow down summertime and relish in every moment possible.

Here is my list of intentions to help me savor summer! What are yours?

  1. Go for a daily walk.
  2. Drink my morning coffee in my garden.
  3. Shop at my local farmer’s market once a week.
  4. Prepare at least 2 meals a week solely from our local farmer’s market.
  5. Garden 3x’s a week.
  6. Always have a book going.
  7. Dine outside as often as possible.
  8. Drink iced coffee in the afternoons.
  9. Wear sandals.
  10. Meditate daily.
  11. Knit.
  12. Go out for ice cream. Try different ice cream stands each week.
  13. Wear sun hats.
  14. Feed the hummingbirds.
  15. Wake up early for the sunrise as often as possible.
  16. Go to a 4th of July parade.
  17. Have friends over for a BBQ.
  18. Go to an outdoor concert.
  19. Stargaze at night and watch for falling stars.
  20. Watch each full moon rise.
  21. Wear sundresses.
  22. Make ice cream with my ice cream maker.
  23. Watch the bats at twilight.
  24. Grow tomatoes and basil.
  25. Celebrate veggies and fruits in season. For instance, strawberries are in season here now!
  26. Write in my journal daily.

Mindfulness matters. Bringing mindfulness to how you move is a powerful way improve your life.

Move every day with ease and joy. You will be amazed how it will change your life in many wonderful ways!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone! You can purchase it here.

The author Mary Derbyshire savors summerMy name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

5 Ways To Pain Free Gardening

Yes, there are ways to pain-free gardening!

photo of flowers in the gaden
Photo: Unsplash, Richard Loader

It is time to garden!

Spring has finally decided to show up. The daffodils are turning their sunny faces to the sun, the peepers are peeping and my horses are shedding!

It is time to get out there and get your hands in the dirt.

It is also the time when many of my students show up at the Alexander Technique lessons with very achy backs, shoulders, elbows…you name it they hurt everywhere.

I get it! Gardening is challenging. First stooping down to the ground for long periods of time wreaks havoc on the back. Digging and pulling up weeds is difficult work and can result in sore wrists, hands, and elbows. Raking is actually a very complex motion and the repetitive movement can be hurtful. Then there is the fact that everyone wants to get their gardening done and that they work at it with a lot of intent or rather tension!

In short, gardening is a workout.

But, I would bet that you don’t go after your garden like you do a workout.

If you were to run a marathon you would never dream of just waking up one day and running a marathon! No! You would train for the marathon.

Then why do you think that you can just go out and garden for 3-5 hours without preparing for the garden workout? You need to train for your gardening hours just like you would train for running a race.

So here are your 5 ways to get out into the garden pain-free.

  1. Don’t bend or lean over from the waist instead squat. A squat is when you bend at your ankles, knees, and hips. Make sure that your feet are at least shoulder width apart. Most people stand with their feet too close together. So be aware of where your feet are placed and squat to prune the roses or to pick up the basket of flowers.
  2. Kneel on the ground to weed or dig in the dirt. (Again don’t bend at the waist.) Use a yoga mat and place it underneath you. If your knees hurt or you find it difficult kneeling take another rolled up yoga mat and put it behind your knees this will make the flexion of the knee less dramatic. when leaning forward be sure to bend from the hip keeping the back straight and not bent over.
  3. Crawl as you weed along the garden bed. Most people don’t consider crawling as a way to get from place to place. Crawling will eliminate the getting up and down that can be so tiring.
  4. Watch the time. Your body is designed to move and does not like staying in one position for any length of time. So mix up your position every 20- 30 minutes. You can just stop for a few moments and then continue or you can switch to another task.  This will make you less stiff in the long run and just make gardening more enjoyable. Also, ease into your gardening. Garden for half an hour one day, and increase by half-hour increments. Pace yourself and you won’t be so exhausted and physically wrecked. Don’t be a weekend warrior gardener!
  5. Do the Alexander Technique Lie-Down at the end of your time in the garden. Lying down in this way restores and refreshes you! I guarantee that you will feel better after practicing this lie-down! Click on the video to learn how! 

 

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone! You can purchase it here.

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

7 Movements To Keep You Young And Moving Well

Person jumping, & Movements to Keep you young.
Photo: Unsplash, Autumn Goodman

Movement is the number one thing that will keep you young and moving well.

Has something ever happened in your life that has made you feel less than?

Have you hurt yourself in some way that has made you feel older and no longer young?

Perhaps you have fallen or strained your back, or you have had an illness like a bad cold or the flu or much worse?

Because I predominantly work with Baby Boomers and older I often see this in my practice.

A debilitating event occurs such as a strained back and a common thought is “this is it, I will never play golf again or I have to give up my garden and I will only grow flowers in pots. It’s all downhill from here. I am just going to decline and soon I’ll be dependent on a walker!!!”

I understand I have been there too, we all have.

But here is the thing. You had setbacks when you were young in your twenties, your thirties, your forties but guess what? You figured it out. You maneuvered around it. You got back in the saddle, back in the race, leaped over the hurdles.

You didn’t quit. You started again. Age has nothing to do with it! You don’t have to be young to rebound. Youth is not a prerequisite.

You can get past a setback.

Here is a testimonial from a former student. It tells a very important story about what is possible.

“I was at a point where I thought that I would never play golf again. I was 76 yrs old at the time.

After I had tried many therapeutic modalities one of the therapists recommended that I should go to Mary Derbyshire to learn the Alexander Technique.

 We started the sessions in late June. We did two per week for about 8 weeks. I went away for a month and then we continued with 4 more sessions. By this time I was able to play golf again.

 The technique has kept at bay all other muscle problems not just the back but in the legs, knees, and ankles.

 As a result of what I have learned from Mary, I can make a swing with good turn in both directions and am hitting the ball better than I have in years. I expect to be able to do that for many years into the future.

Pip Danby, Golfer, 78

This is not an anomaly. Pip may have felt that his back was truly killing him, but it wasn’t. It was just a problem that needed to be solved. Pip learned how to move better and as a result, his aching back and legs went away and he could get on with his life and do the things that he loved to do. In his case it was golf.

I teach a fitness class that is influenced by the Alexander Technique. I have taught this class for 14 years. We may feel young, but we are not young. In my class, I have students in their 50’s, 60’s,70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

We all run, jump, skip, hop and stand on one leg. I once read an NYTimes article that said after 80 balancing on one leg was impossible. Well, we balance on one leg every single class and I have a lot of students over 80.

We defy the trend,  we defy the pre-conceived ideas, maybe we even deny the logic but the main thing is that we keep moving.

We move and we move well. We keep turning our clock hands backward even after an event may move the hands forward.

Here is a list of must do’s every day to get you back in the game and keep you active.

1. Walk. Take a walk. Start with a short walk if this is new to you. Increase your walking time gradually. Wear flexible shoes that do not have a thick sole. You need to be able to feel the ground. Sit less, walk more.

 2. Don’t spend your day sitting on a soft couch or soft chair. Instead, opt to spend some time sitting on a hard chair like a kitchen chair or dining room chair. And while sitting sit on your sitzbones. You can locate your sitz bones by sliding your hands palm side up under your bum. Feel those boney bits? Those are your sitz bones. In order to sit with any ease, you must be sitting on your sitz bones!

  3. Stand on one leg. As we age our balance becomes compromised but you can change that. Challenging your sense of balance will improve it. These are simple activities but do not underestimate their effectiveness, they work! If you are unsteady do these next to a chair or counter. Stand on one foot with your other foot just slightly off of the ground. Switch. Then stand on one foot with the knee bent and the foot higher. Switch. Next, walk the plank by placing one foot directly in front of the other. Do this going several steps forward and backward. Next, draw a semi-circle in the air with your foot. Do the other side. It is easier performing these activities while looking at the floor. It is harder while looking straight ahead. It is most difficult if your eyes are closed. Challenge yourself!

4. Heel Raises: Try this- take off your shoes and lift your heels off the floor so that you are standing on the balls of your feet. Allow the toes to splay. Lower the heels and repeat several times. You may want to put a chair in front of you for support if needed. This simple movement will encourage foot flexibility.

5. Head shoulder turn. Head rotation is another movement that can become compromised as we age. While sitting in your new way by sitting on your sitz bones think of softening your jaw, tongue, and neck and gently turn your head to the right then let your shoulders follow. Turn your head back to the center and just allow your shoulders to follow your head. Repeat this to the left. Practice this easily several times.

6. Cultivate a breathing practice. Exhale the air in your lungs, and then wait and wait some more. Then allow your breath to come in through your nose and mouth but only when you feel the need. You are not trying to hold your breath; instead, you are waiting for an impulse for the breath to occur.

Exhale, close your mouth and wait. Wait some more, and wait a little longer. Now let the air come in through your nose. Wait and then exhale. Close your mouth and wait, wait some more, and wait a little longer. Now let the air come in through your nose. Wait and then exhale. Close your mouth and wait, wait some more, and wait a little longer. Now let the air come in through your nose. Return to breathing normally. This is our easy-breathing practice. I call it Exhale and Wait to Breathe.

7.Alexander Technique Lie Down Practice. Check out the video. Lying down in this way 15-20 minutes is great for everything. The AT Lie is a cornerstone of the Alexander Technique. Click here for the video.

Move every day with ease and joy. You will be amazed how it will change your life in many wonderful ways!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone! You can purchase it here.

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

 

 

 

Why Positive Words Will Bring Positive Changes

Words MatterDo you use positive words to describe yourself?

In other words, when you think about yourself do you use constructive non-judgmental sentences that edify you or do you use words that judge and discredit your abilities?

With most of my clients sadly it is the latter.

Let’s just think about the language that surrounds working out: no pain, no gain, feel the burn, double down, boot camp.

No wonder so many people hate to exercise or are intimidated by working out! There is not one positive word in that sentence!

Here’s the thing, language matters! Language matters a lot! We need to cultivate positive words!Just by changing the language you use to speak to yourself can change the quality of how you move and how you feel.

Just for fun try this short game or exercise I learned from my colleague Nancy Romita.

You can do this by yourself, but it works even better with a partner. One of you is partner A, and the other is partner B. Both of you are standing up. Partner A put your arms around partner B, and try to move or lift him or her. Notice that you are able to move partner B.

Next, partner A, recite this script to partner B:

“Imagine there is a giant hole at the top of your head, and into this hole is poured wet, gray cement. This wet, gray cement is filling up your skull, traveling down through your neck and into your lungs and chest. This wet, gray, heavy cement is filling up your abdomen and pelvis. Heavy, wet cement is pouring through your thighs, knees, and lower leg. This heavy, gray cement is moving into the ankles and feet. Heavy, gray cement is surrounding the foot.”

Partner A then tries to move or pick up partner B. Partner A cannot move partner B. Partner B is so heavy that he or she actually feels as if he or she were full of cement.

We don’t want to leave partner B in the quagmire of cement, so let’s lighten him or her up. Partner A, recite this script:

“You are standing in a pool of water, and the water is fresh and clean and sparkly. Allow the sparkly water to fill your feet and move through your ankles. This bright, sparkly water is swelling through your lower leg and up into your thighs. Allow this fresh water to fill up your abdomen and move into your lungs and chest. This bright, sparkly water is swelling up into your throat and your skull and is bubbling out through the crown of your head.” Now, partner A, try to lift partner B! Ta-da! It is so easy to move partner A.

Do you see the power of language and how your words and thus your thoughts affect your physicality? Do you see how the positive words like bright and sparkly lightened you up?

There is scientific evidence that this is true. Neuroscientist and Alexander Technique teacher Rajal Cohen did a study using the phrase lighten up to see how it would affect posture, movement, and balance. Rajal runs the Mind in Movement Laboratory at the University of Idaho, where her work is “inspired by the idea that cognitive factors are important for controlling action.” In this study, her subjects were people with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is known for causing, among other things, rigid muscles, unsteady stance, and poor control of movement. Dr. Cohen found that when she asked these people to think about “lightening up,” (rather than “pulling up” or “relaxing”) their torsos became less rigid, their stance became steadier, and they were able to initiate movement more smoothly, indicating better control (Cohen 2015).

The cement game we just played demonstrates the importance of choosing language that benefits you. What old tapes are going through your head? What words do you use that just pull you down and compress you? Language is so important. Expressions liketry harderdouble downno pain, no gain; and pull yourself up by the bootstraps are not constructive or helpful. We need language that is kinder and gentler. We need positive words to encourage and build us up.

This game illustrates how simple it can be. So choose lighten up or allowfree up or let go. Your psycho-physical self will thank you!

Here is a link to a group of my students doing the Cement Game.

So choose positive words such as allow,, let go, lighten up, free up, easy dose it!How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone! You can purchase it here.

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!