Thursday, May 20, 2010

Body Rolling Book Review

A new client told me about Body Rolling, she used it when she wanted to work on her own muscles and connective tissue. I had heard of using a foam roller, but this is different and less painful. The Ultimate Body Rolling Workout by Yamuna Zake and Stephanie Golden shows how to roll on a ball to release your back, hamstrings (heavenly!), neck, chest, abdomen, pretty much anywhere you feel tight. More importantly, the author focuses on creating alignment with the routines so you stand taller and straighter.

It uses a soft ball, like the ones you buy at a toy store not fully inflated (the frog ball above was a fun find that I use regularly), or you can purchase specially made balls from the Body Rolling company.

I had been rolling on a ball to work the tight spots out of my arms -- after all I can't see a structural integrator every week -- and the principle is the same. It's also similar to undulation in that your body is moving slowly and developing internal awareness. The difference is that your body weight creates more the resistance against the ball.

Body Rolling requires more flexibility and range of motion that most undulations and it includes the arms and legs, while undulation focuses more on the spine. I think this is a good next-step if you like undulations and want to go deeper. The author also has another book that is more technical and written for bodyworkers and manual therapists.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spontaneous Motion

In the opening keynote presentation at the 2010 International Association of Structural Integrator's Symposium, Michael Salveson noted that the body works best when joints are in their neutral position, that is when all forces on the joint are equal. In this video, you can see people demonstrating undulations where they are exploring the movement of their spinal joints and helping create more balanced, neutral positioning and range of motion.

Michael also noted that in the Daoist traditions (Chinese medical arts), the joins is a resevoir of chi (energy). When a joint is weak or injured, it borrows chi (energy) from nearby joints.

The spine has 125 joints. As the central pillar of the body, its range of motion (or lack thereof) determines the ease with which a person can move. Try some of these undulations to create more chi in your spine.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Exercise of the Month: Standing Alignment

Can standing in good alignment really be considered an exercise? Actually, it's an important habit to develop with daily practice. Good posture isn't just to look good, it balances all joints of the body so you can move with ease and comfort. Additionally, being in line helps you make better decisions.

Research done at the University of Aberdeen as reported in the New York Times article, Abstract Thoughts? The Body Takes Them Literally, notes that people who are thinking about the future lean forward and when recalling the past most people lean back. Being in alignment helps a person be present. Letting go of bad posture habits helps us make better sense of what's going on around us.

So spend a few minutes every day standing with focus on alignment of your hips over your ankles, your ribs over your hips, your cranium over your ribs with your shoulders and arms relaxed. Ground firmly to the earth below you, as though you have deep roots and draw a line of energy up your inside arches and legs, through your spine so the crown of your head subtly lifts toward the heavens. Stay in this space, the present moment, for as long as you can hold your attention here. I practice this when I'm waiting anywhere, such as when my computer is starting or when standing in line at the store or bank.