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.

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!

 

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!

 

7 Ways to Challenge Balance and Improve Balance

Man balancing on trapeze wire. Balance.

Maintaining a healthy and active sense of balance is imperative for living a dynamic life.

It is no news that fear of falling is one of the greatest fears for aging adults.

Have you ever tripped? It can be terrifying. Just think about the fear that rushes through your body when you start to fall!

Fear of falling is one of the strongest reflexes because your body will do everything in its power to prevent your noggin’ from hitting the floor!

The CDC reports that in the US alone we spend over 34 billion dollars in medical costs associated with falling. That says nothing about deaths, emotional trauma and the inability to get around and all of the lifestyle changes that ensue after a fall.

The CDC also says that 1 in 3 seniors over 65 will fall at some point in the course of a year. Clearly falling and balance are critical issues in our aging population.

Did you know that balance starts to decrease as early as our 20’s and declines with each passing year?

Depressing, I know, but here is some important knowledge- to improve balance you must challenge balance.

Our culture has become way too sedentary. We sit too much! We sit in our cars, we sit in front of the computer, we sit and watch TV. All of this sitting does not challenge balance and weakens or dulls the balance system.

Without getting too technical I want to briefly explore the three parts that comprise the balance system- the inner ear otherwise known as your vestibular system, eyesight, and proprioception. I call this the Balance Troika.

The Balance Troika.

  • Inner ear or vestibular system is made up of 3 semicircular canals. They kind of remind me of a roller coaster. The way the vestibular system functions can get complicated but let’s just say that it constantly measures the body’s position in relationship to gravity. Along with the eyes, it helps us hold a gaze even though the body is moving. Try this: Hold your hand in front of you and shake your head from side to side rapidly. See how your hand stays in focus. Maybe some small details are out of focus. Now do the reverse. Move the hand very quickly in front of the eyes. See how different that is when the vestibular ocular reflex is not excited.
  • Eyesight: Try this; stand up and stand on one leg. Then stand on the other leg. OK, now try standing on one leg and close your eyes. Aha, see how your vision affects your balance. It is incredibly difficult to stand on one leg with your eyes closed and not all that difficult to stand on one leg with your eyes open.
  • Proprioception: Close your eyes and wave your hands in front of you. See you always know where they are. So Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and the strength of effort being employed in movement.

Let’s Challenge Balance!

  1. Squats: Squats are great because when done properly they allow for free movement in the hips. Because we sit too much many of us have a very limited range of motion through the hips. Click here for the squat video.
  2. Lunges: The lunge can be a little more challenging. Click on my video here for instruction. If you are a little wobbly place a chair on either side of you in case you need a handle.
  3. Walk the Plank: Click here for more instruction on walking the plank! You don’t need to be a pirate matey! 
  4. Little Lifts: Click here for a video on what I call Little Lift balancing exercise.
  5. Lateral Lifts: The next two are in one video. Make sure that you do these near a chair or a counter in case you need support!  Click here for the instructional video!
  6. Semi-Circle: See above video!
  7. Heel Raises: Foot and ankle flexibility are very important for balance. Heel raises help with both! Hmmm. I don’t have a video for this but here is the sequence- it is very simple.You may want to do this at a counter or with a chair in front of you. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Raise your heels so that you are on the balls of your feet. Lower your heels until they just about touch the floor BUT do not touch the floor then raise the heels again. Do 5-10 of these.

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 Technique, a mindfulness-based 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!

 

 

·     

 

·       

·       

 

Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_bolina’>bolina / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

How To Improve Exercise: The Mindful Movement Revolution!

I want to introduce you to a concept you may not have heard of- Mindful Movement!

                                                                      Photo: Unsplash: Emma Simpson

Yes, you read that correctly! Mindful movement.

I’m sure that you have heard about mindfulness and how it can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, lessen stress and overall make your life a whole lot more fun!

But did you know that you also can learn how to bring mindfulness to the way that you move?

When you create a mindful movement practice you get all of the benefits of mindfulness plus the advantages of reducing pain and stiffness, improved balance, mobility, and much more!

Here’s the thing. Most of us don’t think about how we move. (In fact, I believe, that most of us only think about our physicality in negative terms such as am I too tall, too short, too fat, too thin etc. But, that is another blog post.)

Learning how to move in a constructive way and paying attention to how you move is a powerful way to bring mindfulness into your life.

This is why I wrote my Amazon bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.

The book is unique in that it comes with 40 instructional videos that you can access with your smartphone, iPad, or computer.

Even though the universe is abuzz with the mind/body connection it needs to be taken one step further.

Instead of thinking about the mind/body connection, think about mind/ body unity!

You are a unified whole. There is just you, with no distinction between the mind and the body. This is what F.M. Alexander- the creator of the Alexander Technique–called the psycho-physical.

Let me give you an example.

I want you to think of something that terrifies you!

For me, it is public speaking.

Right now as I am writing this article and thinking about getting in front of an audience to speak I am starting to feel anxious. My palms are starting to sweat, I feel a little uncomfortable, my stomach is beginning to clench, my mouth is dry and I feel a little panicky!

Just the thought of getting up in front of an audience puts my body in fight or flight mode. My thoughts about speaking in public are affecting me physically.

The reverse is true as well. You may be anxious and stressed about a situation but may be relieved just by taking a walk or going for a run. The physical act of walking or running calms you down.

As Caesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer once said: “The mental affects the physical and the physical affects the mental.”

So here is an example. The next time that you go to the gym or go for a walk or work out think this one thought. I’m not going to try so hard when I move. Instead, I’m going to think “how can I do this activity with less effort.” Apply this thinking to your workout and let me know how it goes!

Your thinking can change your physicality; this is the power of the psycho-physical.

So let’s start paying attention to how we move! Let’s start a movement revolution where the how you exercise is at least as important as the activity of exercising!

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 Technique, a mindfulness-based 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 Relieve Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can be just annoying or incredibly debilitating. 

Horse with jaw pain
Photo: Unsplash, Dan Cook

Perhaps this is you. You wake up in the morning and your jaw just aches. Sometimes just touching your jaw can be sore and uncomfortable

Or perhaps you go to the dentist and you are told that you grind your teeth and that you should use a mouth guard. You know that you probably grind your teeth because you sometimes get sharp pain in your jaw during the day.

I’ve even had clients whose jaw pain is so acute that they have sinus problems and headaches. When we address the jaw pain both of these other problems have disappeared.

In this article, I want to teach you 3 simple ways that could help you relieve jaw pain.

And when I say simple I mean simple. I want to take a moment here and talk about simplicity. I feel that we live in a complicated world and we think that in order for solutions to be effective they need to be complicated. We may think that we need a complicated drug or another complicated solution. We are wary of simplicity. I have taught movement, fitness and a mindfulness practice called the Alexander Technique for over 20 years and my experience is that when applied simple solutions can be very effective! Are you with me?

So here are my suggestions to relieve jaw pain!

  • Know where your head is! Here is some knowledge. Your head rests on top of your spine but do you know the place where the head articulates with the spine? If you take your index finger and place it on the flap in front of your ears and place your thumb just behind your earlobe you can locate the place of articulation very deep in the skull. This is your atlanto-occipital joint. This is important because the way the head articulates with the spine determines how well you function. So what has this got to do with jaw pain? Your head weighs 10-15 lbs. It is like a bowling ball sitting on top of your spine. When your head is not relating well to the spine your body has to work overtime to keep it upright. This work requires a lot of excessive muscular effort. Excessive muscular effort means tension and pain.
  • Do not clench your tongue! That’s right! Your tongue is an extremely powerful muscle and when there is a lot of tension in the tongue there is a lot of tension in the jaw. Here’s the crazy thing about the tongue: not only does it rest in your mouth but it also goes way back into your throat. You can discover the attachment of the tongue by placing your thumb and index finger on either side of your throat just below your jaw. This is where your tongue attaches to a bone called the hyoid bone. If your tongue is plastered on the roof of your mouth then this indicates that you are carrying a lot of stress. So tell yourself to soften the tongue- the tip of the tongue, the middle part of the tongue and the back of the tongue that goes all the way back into the throat. Allow your tongue to rest on the floor of the mouth.
  • Let your teeth float. Here’s a tip. Your teeth should only be touching when you are chewing or if you are really angry! That’s a joke, the last part anyway. But really, you can think about your jaw releasing down away from your skull or your upper teeth. Like the tongue, the jaw muscles are incredibly strong and can carry a tremendous amount of stress. One good way to stimulate release is to first tell yourself to allow the jaw to release down then take the heals of your palms and gently stroke the sides of your face in a downwards motion.
  • Exhale and wait to breathe! Here is a short video that I recently made that teaches you how to breathe in a way to de-stress and release unnecessary muscular tension. This video demonstrates a breathing practice. This is not how you are supposed to breathe during your day. So, only practice this in short stints. 3-5X’s a sitting.

 

  • Stop trying! When you “try” to do things you are bringing too much effort to any given task and this effort tightens and shortens muscles. Shortened and contracted muscles bring about pain. (Think about carrying a bag of groceries for a long distance without shifting arms. It is painful. Correct?) Instead of trying harder tell yourself that you are going to allow yourself to perform a task. This is a mindset change. How you think about movement will actually change how you move. Your movement should be light, free and joyful!

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 Technique, a mindfulness-based 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.