Mind & Motion

Perfect Posture

Posted in My Practice, Personal Essays, Pilates by Meghan Pickrell on June 18, 2010

I happened to be in the bay area over the weekend for a family gathering. I’ve been having some trouble with my lower back the past few weeks and it was fortuitous that I had planned on heading up north. My mentor, Carole Amend lives and works in Marin County and I scheduled a session with her. As some of you know, it can be challenging to always workout alone and an additional set of eyes, hands and a new perspective are always helpful.

After a warm welcome Carole began the session by asking how I was feeling. I told her my thoughts, ideas and frustrations with my back; when my scoliosis takes over, my paraspinals go on strike. Finding my way back to a more aligned body takes some re-education.

When I think of “alignment” I think of the anatomy bone chart and how the pieces should fit together. My understanding is that when the bones come together in a way where gravity is working in our favor than our muscles can work more efficiently. This is what we call proper alignment. It’s sometimes challenging to understand how far I am from this ideal. This is when a session is really helpful.

Carole had me simply lie on the floor with bent legs and began the process of helping to direct my body back to an aligned place. Through instruction, both verbal and tactile, I began to feel very crooked. This is always a good sign. I generally need to feel way off in order to find the middle. Leaning my bones into the ground, rocking, nudging and feeling my support I learned which side was tight. It’s always the opposite of what I think! Carole has such an insight into the body that she can tell me exactly how to move so that I’m firing my muscles appropriately. The muscles that need to contract, begin to hold and those that need to lengthen, stretch.

After my spine had a chance to unwind a bit, I rolled to my feet. Just lying there with some direction, (a little nudging, rolling and relaxing) my back felt so much more supported. I stood and felt that both legs were the same length. This is an amazing feat, trust me. I had Carole take a photo so I could see how straight my back was at that moment. Unfortunately, I don’t have a before picture but my legs look pretty darn symmetrical afterward.

Carole is the only person I have met that can direct my body to a healthy alignment. The hypertonic muscles begin to release and the hypotonic muscles tighten. This is what we call muscle balancing. She does all this with verbal cuing, instruction and some manual touch. She directs my movement so that I initiate appropriately, while feeling my weight and keeping my form. Hopefully, my clients have a similar experience after a session with me. Our goals are the same: to direct the body to a supported symmetrical place, where gravity is working in our favor. Once the body is balanced, no one piece has too much load. It’s just like engineering, the load is equally distributed. From there we can learn how to move those pieces in space.

I walked out of the studio with a mobile, pain-free back, in two hours time. Thank you Carole!

4 Responses

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  1. mom said, on June 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Your back looks so symmetrical and straight. Hopefully I will be there one day

  2. Tom Glover said, on June 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Looks great, Meghan. Did it last, and how is your back now? Sounds like Carole is a miracle worker. Much love, Tom

  3. Meghan Pickrell said, on June 21, 2010 at 5:37 am

    My back is doing wonderfully! Thanks Tom. 🙂

  4. Donna Luder said, on June 23, 2010 at 2:01 am

    What a lovely post, thank you for expressing the simplicity and sense of wonder that accompanies the discovery of somatic balance. I look forward to reading more of your posts!
    The Somatic Mechanic Blog

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