I’ve stayed away too long… I know, it’s tragic. After my wedding in September and subsequent health issues my focus was pulled between my health and my new husband. That coupled with an insanely busy pilates studio this year, has occupied me to no end. But do not fear, I hope to begin posting on a regular basis once again. Yippee!
SO, what’s new people? As I wrote about last October, Carlos and I postponed our Spanish honeymoon last year from which we have just returned. It was amazing- Spanish tapas, historic art, and the Basque countryside all laid the perfect groundwork for a romantic honeymoon. The highlight was reading our vows overlooking San Sebastian. I feel so…blessed.
The vacation also helped bring us to a place of deep relaxation. A feeling that is rarely experienced in day-to-day life unfortunately. That being said, our promise to one another is to stay SANE now that we are back in Los Angeles- to keep stress at bay and laugh at the trivial stress impostors (if I may) that seem magnanimous when piled atop one another. It’s all about perspective, right? The scrapbook fillings and photos are scattered over our dining table, the bed is unmade (something that would normally drive me a little nutso) and I am OK with it. I take a breath, relax my body and find the same soothing relaxation while writing this blog. Please enjoy some of the photos above!
About two weeks before my wedding I picked up Dr. Sarno’s “Healing Back Pain” off my bookshelf. I had read the book about 10 years ago from the perspective as the practitioner. Now, I was reading it as a student. I had just thrown my back out and was in a word, desperate.
Dr. Sarno’s theory involves the mind. Through his research at the Rusk Institute in New York, Dr. Sarno found that back pain was difficult to diagnose and treat. This was because causes and symptoms were not always aligning. Science and research are based on a cause and effect relationship. When patients were having a) symptoms with no structural abnormality or b) differing patient responses to the same diagnosis (i.e. some patients in extreme pain from a herniated disc and others completely asymptomatic), Dr. Sarno decided that the cause of pain may not be due to any structural abnormality. The commonality was stemming from something psychological. He diagnosed patients with TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) when the cause of pain or a chronic condition was actually induced from stress or surpressed emotions.
Now, I’m a tricky one. I’ve often had psycho-somatic aliments starting from intense stomach aches as a child. I’ve also struggled with other stress induced conditions. Although I do believe there was a huge structural component to my back pain, I also believe there was a huge psychological component as well. It’s not by chance that my back went out two weeks before one of the biggest days of my life. I had been planning my wedding for the past 6 months, running Mind & Motion (which is only a year old) and organizing our honeymoon. All of that was stressful enough, but I was also realizing the emotional implications that come along with committing to another person for life. I was stressed. Healing cannot begin if the body is in a sympathetic flux so relaxation was key. It was also important to remember that any additional tension caused by the pain itself would only perpetuate the condition. So, I tried to breathe, meditate, pray, and let go to the best of my ability. I’m also still in the process of learning how to recondition my brain so that my stress doesn’t manifest itself in physical ways. This is hard because I spend so much of my day focusing on the body.
Knowing that there is nothing seriously wrong with me and directing my focus toward my emotions has helped me get through this chronic pain. I have also found other resources by psychologists in Los Angeles. Alan Gordon is a clinical researcher of TMS in Los Angeles. For more information on TMS, you can read an article by him here.
As some you may already know even though I’m a professional body worker and teacher… I am also human (strange, I know). This means that I also deal with a host of body-related issues. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at a young age and since then I’ve had flare ups with my back throughout the years. Ballet helped tremendously as a teen (I was sans back pain for around 5 years straight while dancing). Pilates saved me again in my 20s. I’ve also found a few body-workers who have eased the pain throughout the years. For the past year my right hip and low back have not quite been right and 2 weeks before my wedding I went for a light jog and my back went out. It actually wasn’t sooo bad at first and usually when such an event occurs it takes about a week and then I’m back on my feet. This time was different. I went to the osteopath who I had been seeing for the past few months. Twice. I went the chiropractor. I went to the PT. Nothing was easing my stiff, sore back and I was approaching one of the biggest days in my life. F*&%!
The wedding came after 2 advils and I was OK for the celebration. It was an amazing experience to have all of your friends and family in one place. That I will always cherish. I ate, drank, laughed and danced. It was a truly remarkable day.
The wedding was Saturday and Monday Carlos and I were to fly off to Spain for 2 weeks, a honeymoon we had been planning for months. Sunday I realized that I just didn’t have it in me. My body was sore and I was exhausted. I had been planning the wedding and honeymoon for nearly 6 months, running a new business and dealing with a huge transition in my life. Sometimes it’s important to know our limitations and I had just hit the wall.
One of the most amazing qualities about my husband is that he really believes in me. He believes strongly that the human body has the ability to heal itself and that I have the power to get better. I know this as well but it sure is helpful to have a partner reflect that back to me. The first part on my journey toward healing was to relax. We decided to post-pone Spain and head up to Ojai for a mini-moon.
Ojai was just what I needed; pure relaxation. The first day I indulged in a foot reflexology massage. This definitely calmed my sympathetic nervous system. The body cannot begin the healing process when under distress which is why my back was not getting better before the wedding. Sad, I know. I wish I could have been a zen bride, if there is such a thing. The second day I indulged in an ayruvedic wrap. This was definitely worth the hefty price tag. I became so relaxed that I started day dreaming. It was a bit of bliss. My appetite came back and my back started easing up slowly.
On the second part of our mini-moon Carlos and I ventured to San Francisco so that I could work with Carole, my mentor. Carole is one of the only practitioners who really corrects my alignment and movement patterns. I couldn’t do “pilates” per se but she did have me lean into the leg spring with my foot, finding assistance from the apparatus in order to help organize my hip. After seeing Carole I could finally sit without back pain. This was extremely helpful for the plane ride home.
I’m still in the process of crawling out of this hole. My alignment has finally gone back to a more balanced place. I’ve been investing myself in the healing process from a variety of angles. In the coming weeks I will continue to document my experience and observations about chronic back pain. I will leave you with this. If you are reading this and you are in chronic muscular skeletal pain I believe there is a way to feel better. Hopefully my journey can offer some insight. To be continued…
I’m so sorry for my absence these last few months. I’ve had my hands full, to say the least, with running Mind & Motion and planning my wedding (another career within itself). I’ve also been dealing with some health issues which I’ll delve into in another post. Amongst all of this insanity, I’ve been hearing from those older and wiser, to “Enjoy this time. You will only plan your wedding once.” My response is simply, “Thank God.” I mean the pressure is just a little high at the moment and I’m hoping to not end up like a ringing kettle. I’m supposed to be glowing. Isn’t that what they say when you are in love? Instead I feel a little dry and exhausted. So, how am I getting “Bride Beautiful?” I figured I should be dieting, exercising like a maniac, buffing, scrubbing and facial-ing in order to get ready for the big day. But alas, none of this has happened. Instead I’m trying Quigong.
Quigong is a practice of aligning breath, body and mind in order to move energy. It’s a centering and healing practice. When I’m practicing I feel open and connected to my body, breath and the universe. My goal is to have more “me” time. I’m taking long walks, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, eating healthy meals (with the help of the amazing chef Carlos). I’m also trying to find ways to let go. The apartment doesn’t always have to be perfect and ordered. A little messiness is healthy. I lost my wallet this week and have kept calm, knowing that it would return…and it did! (This is very out of character for me. I usually would have every card canceled and replaced by now). I know that by incorporating a laid back attitude will help also help me to relax on the wedding day. The wedding will proceed in the manner that it’s supposed to and it will perfect in it’s own perfect way.
This is a photo of my morning latte! (You can tell I’m running out of material, huh?) I received a Nespresso pod coffee maker (Carlos says it’s cheating) for Christmas. Every other morning I pop in a pod, froth a half cup of whole mike, add a touch of maple syrup (delicious) and have an amazing latte. I try to alternate between coffee and green tea. Studies have shown that a bit of caffeine before exercising will help burn fat. I’m sure that’s helpful for all of us. So, enjoy a latte before your morning workout.
Every other Thursday Carlos and I receive a bundle of local organic produce from Farm Fresh To You, a company that delivers of- the- season produce. This weeks box contained kale, lettuce, mushrooms, celery, spinach, oranges, mandarins and yams. Our box will usually feed us a few dinners and provide snacks for the week. Not bad for around $30. I like eating organic produce, I like lowering my carbon footprint by ordering from local farmers, but best of all, I like that it’s delivered right to my doorstep.
It’s Friday… ahhh. Here is a little inspiration for the weekend. My client Jonathan is modeling the hundred for us in this little video I shot this week. Doesn’t this make you want to go to pilates? Have a wonderful weekend!
I’m often times learning something just at the appropriate time to introduce it to my clients. When first starting to teach I already had a decade plus of movement experience to draw from in order to help impart wisdom to my clients. As an apprentice, I was stilling learning pilates and how cue the body in a specific way.
Now, as a seasoned teacher, I find that as I continue to learn within my own body, I continue to find new ways of imparting information when teaching. I started taking regular vinyasa yoga classes at Liberation Yoga up the street from my house. It’s a very charming yoga studio and it’s a great escape for me to go and practice there. No one knows that I’m a teacher. I am an anonymous student and it feels liberating. A new yoga practice has give me the ability to try new movements, new relationships to gravity (yay- inversions!) and a newly acquired sense of agility.
Part of what is great about pilates, yoga, dance, martial arts (I could go on…) is that we begin moving our body in ways not thought as possible. My upper body is finally getting strong from all of those forearm stands and chatarungas. The strengthening was much needed. But also came the idea that I can move in such a variety of different ways with confidence. My body is learning, and so is my mind.
Take this lesson to heart. The more you practice a variety of exercises and movements the more enriched your body (and mind) will be. A regular and varied movement practice establishes a comprehensive movement vocabulary allowing for agility and cat-like reflexes!
Larchmont Chronicle was kind enough to feature Mind & Motion in the January Health and Beauty section. A big thank you to Larchmont Chronicle!
Carlos Santa was very generous to Mind & Motion this Christmas. I arrived to the studio last week to these awesome new shades that both block sun and advertise my business. Take a glance over as you drive down 3rd St if you are in LA.
I also received this unique “wave” sculpture which now sits in the Mind & Motion book shelf. Ahhh… calming.
I’m very excited for the new year and am planning new ventures for the studio in 2012. Come take a free class if you haven’t already! Look inward, move your body and reward yourself this year. Be good to yourself!