Healing Movement is moving!

Yes, healing movement is all about moving, but I mean this literally! We are relocating over to the big bad city Vancouver in April.

When the opportunity first came up “no way!” was my first response. Vancouver is too large, has too much traffic and too many people. Then I said I would be willing to move if we can live in the West End and walk everywhere.  (English Bay + Stanley Park + downtown Vancouver = West End). The only problem with this is it means lowering the standard to which we have become accustomed – a.k.a. downsize.

It’s been an interesting process, sorting out what is most important to us. We aren’t strangers to downsizing, having gone from a large rural home on an acreage to an RV.  Approximately 9 years ago when we moved out of the RV into an apartment we began accumulating ‘stuff’ to kit out a 2 bedroom condo and now we are reducing again to a much smaller condo. Like the first big move, it has been all about defining our priorities.

Walking is number one – or as importantly, avoiding a daily, lengthy commute. Statistically people who don’t commute are happier and have better relationships.  People can walk pretty much anywhere of course, and when we first moved to our current location I walked quite a bit because we are close to some pretty fantastic shopping centres. Somewhere along the way that got old and I found that even if I didn’t have anything pressing to do, I didn’t feel like walking on our busy streets. When we want to go for a walk we drive to Ogden Point or Butchart Gardens, or somewhere equally gorgeous, but it meant walking was a special excursion, not a daily everyday event.

So the bottom line is I am willing to live in a Tiny Space if it means living in a place that will inspire me to get more natural movement more often. It is also an opportunity to reconsider our living space. As my awareness grows (mostly through the Restorative Exercise Institute™) I am more aware that the old way I did things isn’t working. I think of the early years of moving to Victoria as my writing years: books and a series of courses. I’ll never regret that but the practice of sitting and being sedentary just isn’t great and it needs to be balanced out. In our new space we are going to have standing work stations and no dining room, at least not one that will be purposed for eating. Besides the standing workstation thing (possibly a bar height patio table) I want an open area to dance and move. For eating at a table we have a folding table and chairs ready to go. I’ve coined a new term for this: moveable spaces.

As for Nia classes: I have a very exciting Vancouver downtown lead for May but I’m playing it cool. I’ll need some time to get my bearings and figure out the neighbourhoods so stay tuned in you are a Vancouver reader.

To my Victoria students: a heartfelt thank you to everyone I’ve danced with over the past few years. It has truly been a gift for me.


Source: Michel P. Lalonde

p.s. This photo comes up on my Bing screen saver. I had no idea it was in Stanley Park, minutes from my new home!

Posture vs Alignment

Posture vs Alignment

Posture and alignment are two different things. Posture is, among other things, cultural — meaning that a certain way to stand will be ‘in’ and then it will be ‘out’. Posture is also activity driven. A ballerina has a distinctive way of standing and moving that is different than say, a body builder. I was one of those once. A ballet dancer I mean, and man did it ever stick! I don’t really have a ballet turn-out that I am aware of, but I do and probably will forever have ballet arms that colour my Nia dance into a flowing form and any time something graceful and flowing comes into the choreography, like “cross behind cha cha cha” I am just in bliss. But that is posture.

Some postures aren’t good. You can tell at a glance that even though they might look cool, they aren’t good for any body. I’m talking about the head forward, shoulders around the ear and hunched up look.

Gaming BoysOn the other hand, good posture, or what we like to think of as good posture, might not be good at all from an alignment perspective. Alignment refers to measurable alignment markers that are the same for everyone, regardless of your age, body shape, fitness level or activity. These alignment markers give you the best way to stand (and move) for correct functioning of your joints, ligaments and even internal organs.

I haven’t seen myself on tape but I am pretty sure I do a lot of upper back arching along with those ballet arms. Rib thrusting is what it is called in Restorative Exercise™ and it is one of my biggest alignment challenges, and I probably picked it up from ballet (lift your chest!) Do you have it? Read more about this here from Biomechanist Katy Bowman.

Rib thrusting and hunching  are poor alignment for different reasons but both can cause excessive wear and tear on the vertebra and this is another reason why we should focus on alignment rather than posture. The goal of finding alignment is keep your joints and internal organs functioning as long as possible, avoiding the need for hip and knee replacements and developing osteoarthritis, the wear and tear arthritis. I don’t know about you but that is kind of a priority of mine.

A colleague of mine wrote a rather lovely article, called “Alignment vs Posture” which you can read here to learn even more about the wonders of Posture vs Alignment, or Alignment vs Posture!


Just Move

floorplay_fun_BeyondRoutine-3309I just realized this morning browsing the net that I’m on the cusp of being woman on a mission. I am usually more of a middle-of-the-road ‘you decide’ kind of person, but you know that point you get to where things start coming together and it forces you to make more of a stand? When you start noticing things and say, hey wait a minute, who said that was a good idea? That’s where I am. Because…

There is just so much nonsense out there.

Nonsense about what we need

Photograph by Nianow.com. Used with permission.

to do to be healthy in body.

A case in point: last month a very well conditioned 60ish woman came to a  demo I was having and as soon as she saw the yoga mats she said, “oh I don’t exercise on the floor.” I asked her why and I got a 15 minute history of what she’s done in the past, how she needs lots of high cardio, but she had a fall last year and hurt her hip and can’t do Zumba any more. What she couldn’t or wouldn’t accept is the possibility of being able to condition her body without exhausting it or putting herself at risk of more injury.

The fact is if you can no longer get on the floor, that’s a really good reason to take a class that will help you regain strength and mobility in those areas. Forget the cardio and the burn! Concentrate on being able to move, even if it isn’t pretty. Especially if it isn’t pretty.

Yesterday in Nia class the focus was on agility and we went down to the floor and got up. A lot. I could see that for a couple of participants that it was a challenge but in the long term they will benefit more from being able to do the basics than almost anything else. My intent and hope is to awaken awareness in the body and rediscover child-like movement.

So let me be clear: I don’t exercise, I move my body. If you are moving and functioning, no matter what shape you are in, or what conditions you have, you can move your body, so move it as much as you can, in as many different ways as you can.


Photograph by Nianow.com. Used with permission.