Forum / Let's Discuss! / Breathing

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On: March 08, 2013 07:17 AM
Session 1 of the Mat Refresher - 1.) I'm having a problem feeling & understanding the shifting of the ribs on over ball . Not so much doing the exercise as the feeling it self . Wondering if possible I'm just tight and that's my problem . But, when I do this it seems uncomfortable to one side/ right. So is this telling me I need to work and release it more? or am I doing something wrong.? 2.) I know we start at feet & come up with spike ball to ignite the feelings to the brain. But , could you start at head working down to release everything negative out the body? 3.) Casey mention in the Child Pose - Scolios clients/ shifting side to side would feel something / could she expand on this and can you recommend books to read to learn more ? Been doing the release work and breathing all week - clients have been have some great comments and want their own green spike ball, so hope you have plenty in stock for my visit ..Hip roll & over ball with shoulders you could hear the ah! I believe the last video on Focus was great - some many clients have the small hump at thoracic area and it's hard to figure out how to open . Thank you .. It seems clients I work with have less lumbar, thoracic flextion & scapula movement. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us , looking for to next session. Vicky McDaniel
On: March 08, 2013 16:35 PM
Hi there Vicky! It is so good to hear from you! We miss you at the studio, and I cannot wait for you to come to town. I am so happy that you are experimenting with the work, and are implementing it right away to your clients. Sounds like you are doing this with much success! The release work is so vital to our job as movement professionals. This is how we start to really understand how the mechanics of our bodies move in relationship to the environment around us. This is a key part of core training as so many of people (Pilates teachers included!) walk around carrying too much tension. I will address your questions as you have them numbered! 1.) There are so many lessons to be learned from the virtual teacher of the Overball. And it sounds like you have found what I call a "sticky spot" in the spine and rib cage. Not to worry, it is completely normal and you will learn a great deal working in this area. As I said above, everybody carries their own brand of tissue tension. And from what I can remember from your body you have a slight rotation of your spine right about at the lumbo thoracic junction? This will absolutely lead to being able to shift to one side of the ball easier than the other. Here are a few tips to help open the area. You can always deflate the ball a little bit to find a just right pressure so it is easier to work the breath to find some expansion in that tight side. Also, use your other tools. The green spiky ball would be great to work the tight side hips, ribs, and shoulder girdle. This will help to unglue some of the players that keep you in that rotation. Also try laying prone with the Overball under the abdominal wall to help stretch the ab tissue. Work your diaphragmatic breath cycles to stretch the belly into the ball, then completely release and relax on the exhale. Try these out and let me know how it goes! 2.) Yes, you can absolutely start from the head first! I do an awakening sequence that starts at the scalp, and moves down the entire length of the body. This is wonderful when clients come into the studio and are a little slower than usual, or aren't really present. I typically start at the feet when I feel that a client needs grounding and foundational work. This work is so good for the whole of the body whether it is done together, or in small segments. This ignites the senses, and innervates the connective tissue matrix. Motion is lotion, so keep spreading the release work love! 3.) As a person living with a scoliosis, I can first hand tell you that child's pose breath is extremely helpful. People with this condition have innate issues with centering because of the curvature in their spine. Translation: WE NEED ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET! In child's pose, you drop the front of the rib cage which is often asymmetrically flared, onto the legs. This gives immediate tactile feed back to the body of where it is in space because of all the contact. Also in this position the breath cannot travel easily into the abdominal wall because of the pressure from the legs. This means to get diaphragmatic slide, the ribs will have to expand in the back body. This is exactly where your scoliotic clients need the work. Then to further this exploration of breathing into the back side ribs, you can take them into a side bending child's pose, keeping the hands on the floor. One side will be much easier than the other depending on the severity of the curvature. Working the single lung breath that you learned in your training will really help to open up the challenging side even more. When cueing your clients here be sure that when in this side bend they have established a uniform lateral flexion to the best of their ability with little compensatory rotation or translation of the ribcage. This will feel bizarre to them, but with practice the child's pose breath work will really pay off. Thank you so much for your questions Vicky! Talk to you soon! Love, Casey
On: March 10, 2013 07:03 AM
Thanks so much Casey -- will try the Overball breath prone & work on myself more with my tight spot. Also, I have used an Arc for the lateral breath on some clients with scoliosis. Will try both you have suggested . Will keep you updated .. Thank you so much and have enjoyed the 1st and sooooo looking forward to the others. Love ya, Vicky
On: January 12, 2014 17:59 PM
Thank you for this post. I have some additional questions: 1. In addition to deflating the overball, in the video you say, "Depending on the flexibility of the client you may need to use a different size ball." What are some brands and sizes of balls that you have been using with success? I am happy to buy a number of different balls, especially to assist smaller, older and less flexible clients. 2. I have experienced discomfort with the thoracic rotation on the overball exercises. Reaching forward with the thigh opposite to the direction of rotation seems to help. I notice in Mat Session 2, Casey's hand is on Jen's knees to prevent side to side movement of the legs, but how do you feel about a reaching forward movement of one thigh? Thanks
On: January 14, 2014 08:39 AM
Hi there Alesia! Here are some tips to help out with this work: 1.) First with the overball, you can always prop the client's head with pillows or blankets to take some of the pressure off the thoracic spine while experimenting with this work. Also, I have done this work on a Bosu with the pelvis on the floor, and the head supported and it works brilliantly. Also there are a number of soft inflatable wobble discs that can be great in this application too.The key is to experiment and see what combination works for you and your clients. Many times people will need to do ribcage trigger point release work before going into this type of movement, so you can always start with that. 2.) You can absolutely reach the thigh away from the body while doing this work. That is a wonderful idea, because it helps to create length in the torso while rotating the spine. This can be a difficult task while rotating in the upright position. So playing with this work in a supported supine position can help build more movement options. Also, there is much to be gained by not being so robotic in our movements, and playing with what feels good in our bodies. I highly recommend doing this type of spontaneous child body work often, it's what helps keep us young and mobile! Thanks so much for you questions, and keep them coming! Much Love, Casey
On: February 02, 2014 09:51 AM
Hello, my name is Margherita and i just finished the breathing release work. I'm thinking on how practice these exrcises during an apparatus class: can be helpful to select just few exercises for the begenning and/or the end of the class? Or is better to dedicate one entire hour to practice the breath and release work. And, if there are clients who breath elevating the shoulders and the mobility of their diaphragm is really small, can be helpful to start with a pure diaphragmatic breathing moving principally the belly? Thanks for tour help. It's so beautiful to have the opportunity to speak with you all from Italy! Grazie!
On: February 02, 2014 16:57 PM
Hi there Margherita! These are really great questions. Many times when I teach apparatus classes I like to start with about ten minutes of release work. The pelvis and shoulders are a great place to start as this helps to increase joint range of motion. This will also help your clients to slough off any stress that has followed then into the studio. Jennifer and I talk about this a lot, that the precursor to core strengthening is core training. And any of the release work exercises really help to prime the body to get it ready for new movement input. Now say that you taught a particularly difficult class that had a ton of shoulder stabilization in it. This would be a perfect time to add release work at the end of a class to make sure residual tension doesn't accumulate. At our home studio we also offer a complete release work mat class once a week that is heavily attended. Our clients that are focused on their athletic performance as well as clients with therapeutic issues love what this class has to offer. As for your question about getting more diaphragm movement here are some good pointers... often times those clients with the least amount of movement in their torso also have very little movement in their diaphragm. So in this this case it might be helpful to start with ribcage, spine, and abdominal wall release, and then explore belly breath as to let the diaphragm traverse more of the abdominal cavity. We have to remember that a muscle is only healthy if it is balanced. So we must counter the various abdominal contractions we do in Pilates with a good amount of belly breath as well as other types of breath as cross training. Italy is one of my most favorite places I have ever been! I want to go back ASAP! Ciao bella! Casey
On: February 03, 2014 10:12 AM
Thanks a lot for your answer.... But I have another question: today I work with the overball behind the spine (breast and scapulae area) and few people felt pain taking the start position, I personally think that they were just scared about arch their back (I'm speaking about clients without back injuries). Anyway I continued the exercise and at the end they appreciate. As your experience how you understand when is better to stop and change the exercise or make some adjustement or keep the position and continue the exercise? Normally I work in a range of motion that is not painful, but I also think that sometimes the way to improve the posture go through a small amount of discomfort. Thanks for your time! And of course i hope to see you in Italy, for holiday or if you want for an italian fusionfitness course! Ciao! Margherita
On: February 04, 2014 14:29 PM
Hi Margherita! I love your questions! I typically don't work clients in a painful range of motion. You can do so much to facilitate a pain free movement experience that I feel it is better to stop, and look at the situation and where it needs to be tweaked. The only time where I expect a bit of "pain" is during release work when we are working with trigger points. Now for the exercise that you are talking about, it can be a very new sensation to arch over a ball like that. So many times I deflate the ball to the client's comfort level, or I support and prop their head with a pillow of bolster. Both of these strategies help to ease extension into the body at their rate. Remember it isn't just the spine that is moving in a new direction, it is also the whole of the abdominal wall as well as the viscera that need to move to accommodate this type of positioning. So a good rule of thumb is to start small, then go to a more inflated ball. But like you said, for some clients its just a matter of getting past the fear factor, and relaxing into the movement. And as always, the best way to keep your clients pain free is to keep an open conversation flowing during your session, and always checking in to see if a position or exercise is appropriate that day. Keep the questions coming! And hmmmmmmm FusionFitness in Italy... I love the sound of that! Ciao! Casey
On: February 05, 2014 10:32 AM
Hi Casey! ...the questions still coming...(sorry!) To work on the pelvic floor, good cues are really important, and you and Jen are helping me a lot to find new ways to make clients aware about this part of their body. But what about man's pelvic floor... Do you have specific cues for men. The seated position on the overball offer the same sensations? Thanks!!!! Margherita
On: February 10, 2014 18:39 PM
Hi Margherita! The male pelvic floor should be focused on in movement, and you can use the same imagery to help them access this vital component to core activation! Yes, the sitting on the overall or the mikasa ball will help to bring awareness to the space between the sitting bones as well the movement of the pelvic floor on an inhale and exhale. Quite often the posterior pelvic floor can be quite tight on men and can lead to a posterior pelvic tilt, as well as a host of alignment issues and low back pain. Our center of gravity in our body is located squarely in the pelvis as well as the essence of our sexual vitality which is a key component to a healthy life. Men also have issues with incontinence that can be helped with this type of innervation and cueing. Often times I cue a tractioning of the bladder up into the pelvis , or even a cueing of trying to guide the rectum up the sacrum and spine to help get people into this part of their body. It seems to me, the more direct cueing the better. Also, an anatomy lesson is very helpful in visualizing where everything is in space so it can make sense to the client of what they are trying to access. We are very lucky to have a skeleton at the studio as we can show clients what we are talking about, and why its important to movement. Once the information becomes real to them, they can internalize it and make a true connection to what we are asking them to do. Hope this is helpful! Much Love, Casey
On: May 20, 2014 10:43 AM
Hi! After breathing and release session on the reformer I have 2 questions... - footwork with the mikasa ball: why we don't allow a complete extension of the knees? Is because we want to prevent an anterior pelvic tilt? - footwork in monopodalic (without the ball): why the students don't push the carriage all the way out? Is because of the coordination of the breath (inhale extending the supporting leg) that doesn't help an easy stabilization of the pelvis? Thanks for your attention! Ciao! Margherita
On: May 22, 2014 04:47 AM
Hi there Marghertita! I am happy you are enjoying the work on the breathing and release work reformer. These are great questions... let's dive in! You are exactly correct about the mikasa ball footwork. For most people (but not all) it would be difficult to fully extend the leg while propped up on the ball. The tightness and stagnation that surround the femur going into the pelvis on clients would inhibit the ability it keep a neutral pelvis in this challenge. So until they do enough release work on the anterior and lateral hip, it is best to rein in the range of motion. Your clients are still benefitting from lots of proprioceptive information as well and increasing the circulation to the pelvic bowl from the ball. As for your second question I will start with this... Breath is a tool, not a rule. You are correct that an exhale is an easier breath for most people to organize and stabilize around. But it is VERY important to begin to cross train the breath sequences that we use so that our clients learn to connect with their body on any breath patterning that they find themselves in. This inhale is helping to facilitate the lengthening and expansion of their body while they are experiencing that motion on the reformer. Then the exhale is used for the deceleration of the exercise where many people need the extra breath support. And shortening the range of motion on the extension of the leg allows the clients to focus on the more quality of movement while experiencing this new feeling in their body. Thank you so much for your questions and keep them coming! Much Love, Casey Marie
On: November 26, 2015 03:12 AM
Hi Casey, I am a big fan of all the release work you teach in your workshops and I also worked with my clients with the balls. They love it!. I find myself at the end of a session and haven't done any "real" exercises. It is tough to squeeze the calm release work in with regular strenghtening work. How do you create a class with a combination of release work and regular exercises? Maybe you can also do a workshop with that as a topic? :) Thank you, Silke
On: November 27, 2015 07:49 AM
Hello there Silke! This is such a great question, and I do think a workshop would be great for this! In fact you can get started with exploring this concept of merging release work into your movement sequences by checking out my Practical Release: Pelvis and Femur. You will see how I blend these two ideas (release and movement) for really great, long lasting results. Generally how much release work you do in a session will greatly depend on your client's pain, mobility restrictions, and goals. Many times in rehabilitative sessions I will have to front load some release work to get the body's armor to release so we can get to the root of the pain issues. From there I usually go directly into simple skill building exercises and movements to train the neurological system to recalibrate to movement with out the excess tension. This is key. The release of compensatory patterning is one thing, but you must retrain the neuro network to fire differently! Then once these concepts are mastered you can move on in session to more strength work. At that point I have my clients do release as homework so we can keep up with movement training in the studio. As for classes, I teach 55 minute release work classes that are all about massage and self care. And for my mat and equipment classes, I typically start with 10-15 minutes of some sort of release work, then onto movement retraining. I hope this helps answers your question, and now I have lots of inspiration from you on a new workshop to dive into! Much Love, Casey Marie
On: February 29, 2016 07:07 AM
Hi, Im completing the DRA online course and have a question about the insight that states "Lateral rib cage breath does NOT provide optimal diaphragm slide". Can you please elaborate on this? Thanks so much. Cindy
On: February 29, 2016 09:45 AM
Hi Cindy, It is good to hear from you. Thank you for your question. I believe that one of the best ways we can balance and tune the body is through using varied breath sequences and practices. The best breath sequence to get the optimal glide of the diaphragm is Belly Breathing ( sometimes referred to as Diaphragmatic Breathing). This is a relaxing breath and it helps to increase the capacity of the diaphragm. The lateral Rib Cage breath ( because you are sending the breath into the back and sides of the ribs without expanding the belly) has less effect on the glide of the diaphragm. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Love Jen
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