English Bay Seawall

English Bay Seawall

It was rainy and a bit chilly, which really meant the beaches along the English Bay seawall were relatively deserted: all the better to enjoy my quiet walks. These are some of the things that made this week special:

Deborah Redfern Photography

This shimmering shell which I left for someone else to admire.

Deborah Redfern Photography

A Blue Heron atop a tree just outside of the Cactus Club restaurant.

Deborah Redfern Photography

Moody skies and the silhouette of seagull coming in for a landing.

Deborah Redfern Photography

This view, which is beginning to feel like ‘my’ beach.

 


 

All I want to do is restorative exercise

All I want to do is restorative exercise

There was a time in my life when all I wanted to do was yoga.  I was an advanced student taking teaching training and I was in pretty fine shape, physically and mentally, right up to the moment when I got an injury during a yoga class. After that almost everything changed; there were a lot of  times when I walked with a limp and could barely navigate a set of stairs. I seriously wondered whether I would end up in a wheelchair.

Everything I did aggravated the injury because I didn’t understand that my large range of motion was hurting me. Even if I did understand how being hyper-flexible contributed to the instability and overuse of my joints, it’s not like I could just turn it off, and there weren’t any teachers or tools that I knew of at that time to educate me.Walking There was potential for that in Yoga – in workshops I took when I was given a glimpse into biomechanics even if I didn’t know that’s what it was then. My all time favourite moment was when our teacher had two students stand back to back and asked us to observe who was taller and who had longer legs. The shorter person had longer legs. And we were asked how that would change the way they did asana. Whoa!

I did find things to do after my injury: I tried Tai Chi and did some Pilates too, and although I wasn’t using my joints in the same way as I was in yoga class, I was still doing movement with my hyper-flexible body. The Nia Technique® was and still is the most successful movement modality I’ve found. For starters it got me out of a cycle of being afraid to move, and remembering how wonderful it is to move to music.

Nia also began showing me where my structural weaknesses are in my strength. In my White Belt training, I got the feedback that I didn’t use my ankles very much. That’s valuable feedback, put into the right context.  It wasn’t, as I thought at the time, that consciously I was avoiding my ankles. I now know it is because that range of motion wasn’t available to my body, but the questions is still, why was that so?  It made me want to learn more about how my body functions for me, and become better able to serve the people who come to my classes.

Enter Restorative Exercise™ a program developed by Biochemist Katy Bowman. I wasn’t smitten right away but I was intrigued enough to start following her blog ‘Katy Says’ and at some point it clicked that this was a program that could actually teach me how to correctly align my body. If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll probably know I am in the process of becoming an RES (Restorative Exercise Specialist), taking the last part of my training in August. Right now I’m doing a lot of studying, but also re-educating my body. One of the things I’ve learned is that wearing a heel with any elevation at all is more of an issue because I’m short and my feet are small: I don’t need much of a lever to pitch my body forward, so an inch high heel on me does a lot more damage than it would on my husband who is closer to 6′.  You can read more about this here.

The funny thing is that now, all I want to do is restorative exercise. Why? Because a) it feels good, b) it is fun and c) among other things because I’ve finally learned how to relax my hamstrings (which is connected with my really tight psoas/SI joint/hip pain). That’s huge!  I’m talking about a signal that was activated more than 20 years ago (working yoga legs = rigid hamstrings) and never got turned off because I thought that was the way I was supposed to move. For some people it is realizing one day they can’t stop sucking their stomach in, or clenching their butt muscles, or discovering that not only is it not normal to pee your pants when you laugh or sneeze, but that you can learn to turn that response off. It is finally understanding that osteoarthritis isn’t an inevitable outcome of getting older. And you know one of the coolest things ever? Your muscles don’t age!

I knew I was hooked when I found myself drooling over a class plan for twists, and excited that my afternoon plans are about doing rhomboid push-ups.

Like, seriously, this is ALL I want to do now. I am really excited about taking my practicum in August and setting up classes in the so that I can share my new passion!  I feel like I am really stepping more fully into my tag line of Healing Movement and my number one rule for wellness. But enough now, I have to go play.


 

 

 

Around the Neighbourhood

Around the Neighbourhood

It was an overcast and chilly May week, good for taking snaps and cocooning at home – but venture out I did to run errands downtown and hanging out in the neighbourhood on the weekend.

2014-06-10-15

I went downtown for a hair cut and passed this place (and wished I was going there, instead.)

I Love Crumb

And then, here, which is right next door.

Blue Berries

Instead, I went home and had some of these.

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The next day was the annual West End Car Free Day, where the whole of Denman Street, from Robson to Davie, is filled with vendors and community groups.

And we did have some of this from one of the neighbourhood gelato stores.

Robin

And this American Robin.

Stanley Park Ducks

Afterwards we walked through Stanley Park and saw this family of ducks.

Rhododendrons

We saw the last of this years’ Rhododendrons,

Fox Gloves

And the first of the Fox Gloves.


 

Nia Joy

A juicy, joyful project for Friday the 13th: I made a new movie about Nia!

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!

 

 

Adventures in Misalignment: the Head Thrust

Personal Computers changed the world more that you think. Long before thumb typing on smart phones and tablets, before lightweight laps tops, maybe even before clunky PCs, our typing alignment was better. Not perfect, but better. Why? Because before then, typing was done in a office where (hopefully) someone was paying attention to ergonomics.

Ergonomics is the relationship between your body and the furniture and tools that you work with. It is about physical comfort and support, and avoiding wearing out your body parts prematurely. Though computer workerit wasn’t called it then, repetitive stress injury for a typist at one time had to do with the hands and wrists, but we’ve come to a point where it is also our cervical spine health. It is really a pain in the neck!

I learned to type on a manual typewriter, way back when they weighed a ton and were more or less a permanent feature of the desk. In my typing course we learned not only how to type, but how to keep our bodies aligned while doing it: forearms at 90 degrees, spine straight, chin level, and the eyes do the work. One of the differences is that we were touch typing, which means looking at the copy and not the typewriter page. For the most part, that came at the end, when we proof-read the document. And I probably did some head thrusting when I leaned over to use white-out to fix small errors, but nowhere near the degree to which I’ve fallen into the habit of doing now, and I would bet, you too.

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Himalayan Blue Poppies

Himalayan Blue Poppies

I went to visit my friend on Vancouver Island last week and the Himalayan Blue poppies were in bloom at Butchart Gardens. This is practically the only time I am happy the sun is shining when I go there to take photographs, because the sun shines through the petals in a magical way. One would think I had enough photographs of blue poppies but I can never seem to get enough of them. You can see from these photographs that they are not all the same shade of blue, and there is a surprise at the end.

Ageless and Well Weekend Walks

Ageless and Well Weekend Walks

Ageless and Well Weekend Walks

Ageless and Well Weekend Walks

Ageless and Well Weekend Walks