Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tensegrity Pelvis

Pelvis Tensegrity Model - Check out this model to understand a bit more about the tensegrity lines in the pelvis.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Things Stink Around Here!

Long Pond September 2012
Things really stink around here! Literally!

After two weeks of rain which included the effects of Hurricane Isaac, this is what our pond looks like. See that oily residue on the top of the pond? That's been present now for about a week since the rain stopped and as the water level lowers.

This is what happens after every major rain.  Our pond does its job. It's a storm water retention pond that receives all the road run off. As yucky as it is to look at right now, our pond helps keep our intracoastal waterway and ocean a bit cleaner. The pond and surrounding plants & land serve as a sponge - soaking up and filtering toxins.

In our own bodies, we have a similar watery pond that filters toxins - our liver.  Over the summer, I have been conducting a series of body cleanses. This latest one requires me to take a strong tincture of cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, oregano, orange, grape root & pau d'arco. You think with that combination, I would smell like a bakery in the Fall.  Instead, I stink!  I am now bathing at least two times a day.

Cormorant in Long Pond
I understand that with cleansing, odor is considered normal. I am purifying and cleaning the toxins out of me. As well, I am encouraging healthy organisms to freely swim in my internal sea - just like cormorant, brim, and turtles call our pond home.

Encouraging wildlife into our backyard has been a 16 year project!  When we first moved in, the entire back side of the pond was regularly mowed.  Over the years, we allowed the natural vegetation to return creating a riparian zone. The riparian zone provides an important wildlife corridor in our backyard for bobcat, raccoons, and alligators. These animals have provided hours of enjoyment for us to witness them in their habitat. As I write these words tonight, a giant Luna Moth landed on my office window.  I have seen so much from this window. I have witnessed a hawk swoop down and kill a snake, otters eating fish on the banks, and crows buzzing an owl.

Giant Luna Moth at Window

The current film on our pond reminds me to continue to clean up my act. There's more we can do to decrease the toxic load on our earth's waterways as well as the toxic load in our own internal waterways.  One simple thing is to change cleaning products.  Here's a basic recipe for making your own general household cleaner.

Combine in a spray bottle the following:

- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 3 TB isopropyl alcohol
- 1 tsp. tea tree oil
- 10 drops another essential oil of your choice like lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, orange, etc.

Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water.

I use this cleaner all over my house from kitchens, to bathrooms, to Yoga mats.  Join me and make a small change. And while we work on cleaning up our act, silently, the pond continues to filter, just like our livers - making our home the sanctuary where life thrives.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Merit Badges

Here it is! My Girl Scout sash circa 1975! I dug it out of the closet after an interchange with a fellow teacher. I joked that, as adults, we should have Merit Badges listing our accomplishments and then we would feel better about ourselves.

I can envision a few adult Merit Badges from my current family life. One would be a Mouth Merit Badge. I see a mouth with tape over it - for learning to keep my mouth shut as my children share their lives with me - resisting my urge to lecture and make everything a lesson. Mouth Badge could also serve for all the times I didn't scream even when I felt like it. I think I could also easily earn a Money Merit Badge - for providing income that supports our ability to own a home and put food on the table. Definitely, I have earned a Mop Merit Badge for all the messes I cleaned up that I didn't create.

What about you?  What adult Merit Badges have you earned?

We all desire to have someone else recognize what we have achieved. The badges, certificates, and trophies have meaning. They help us define our selves.

At some point, I cut off all the badges from my Girl Scout sash. I can not recall when or why. That's reaching too far back into my childhood hard drive. As an adult, I can tell you the year that I dismantled my office "glory wall" with all my TV writing & producing awards. It was when I turned 40.

Every so often, my production work comes up during family dinner. My kids think all I do is talk on the phone, type on the computer, and teach movement (that is really all I do!). My children remain surprised by the "power people" I have interviewed and know on a first name basis. Tonight at dinner, my son was stating that if he started name dropping who his mom knows and the work she's done then maybe he'll earn "cred" (read: credentials for those over 40) in the classroom with his buds.  My husband and I quickly squashed our son's idea with a parental wisdom lecture.

Time does bring wisdom. Yet, I still seek knowledge as I transition through the 5th decade of my life. I chuckle that many of my childhood interests and Merit Badges remain my interests today. I am still fascinated by medicine. I love movement. I am stimulated by captivating images. I relax with needlecraft. I love riding magic carpets and traveling light.

What about you? What do you still desire to learn?  What are you seeking? What's your next Merit Badge?

And then after earning the Badge, are you willing to cut it off from your sash? Can you detach from it? Are you able to find a way to enjoy the learning with out the outward symbol or degree that others recognize? Are you able to freely give away what you learned & earned with no desire of a return to you?

Growing up, I proudly belonged to Troop 872 of the Council of the Nation's Capital. The D.C. area is a fascinating place to grow up and quite messy, too, with conflicting ideas. I remain proud to have roots that sunk deep into the soil of diversity, watered & feed by a desire to be of service in larger ways, branches that extended out seeking light and knowledge from many cultures.

As an adult, I recognize that others may differ in their political opinions and belief system - and true Peace comes from an unconditional acceptance and unconditional love of "other" of the folks "not like me." And my Teacher tells me, I have to love the least desirable - the ones whose names I wouldn't "drop" at a party - the ones who society labels dirty, despicable, undesirable. My Teacher tells me I must be fully of service to the orphans, widows, the dis-spirited, the downtrodden. Those who are unable to pay or re-pay me for my work, these are who I am counseled to remain honored to humbly and quietly serve.

There is no Merit Badge for this. It loses its value and satisfaction if you wear this type of achievement on your sash. Join me to quietly do the work we are each called to do.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bending Over Backwards for You!

What is it about backbends?  Most adults cringe at the thought.  We even exclaim to loved ones at times of deep exasperation, “I bent over backwards for you!”  We equate it with difficult work!

Now, ask a child to do a backbend - and they gleefully show you all the various ways they can curl their spine!  I teach a children’s yoga class at my son’s school.  The elementary students backbend for fun - even when I am trying to teach them a forward bend (kids hate forward bends - but that’s another blog topic!)!

I have to admit, I am not very good at backbends.  In the past, I’ve cringed, too.  Finally, 6 months ago, I began to enjoy the deep stretch and lengthening of my front body.  It feels really good!   I’m okay that my backbends don’t look like the pictures in the books and magazines.  For me, it’s a slow process of awareness and transformation.

Along the way, I’ve gained greater understanding of proper alignment, how to engage my muscles, and the concept of lengthening.  I’ve learned you have to “root down to rise up.”  Most important, I’ve overcome my fear -- particularly in the standing backbend pictured above.

To  backbend takes concentration and effort.  But exactly where do we effort and how much?  Too much effort in the wrong part of the body and the backbend hurts.  Trying to bend the back at the low back feels horrible!  Finding the backbend in the upper back and noticing the connection between the upper back and heart in the front body -- that’s exhilarating!

So, here’s a few tips.  If you’ve been in class, you’ve heard these cues before.  Sometimes, though, it’s nice to see them in writing.

1.  Your backbend begins with an attitude.  Soften.  Smile.  Draw into yourself and accept where you are at this moment.  Then open yourself up to something bigger beyond your existence.  Know that you alone are not doing this backbend.  Yes, you do have the physical support of your back muscles behind you.  Even better, you have your network of family, friends, and faith as your source of strength.  They’ve literally, “got your back.”   Lean into this idea.  Make it your “back rest.”

2.  Now, set your foundation.  Check to make sure your frontal hip bones, knee caps, and second toes are in alignment.  If your feet are on the ground (whether you are standing, laying on your back or stomach) - lift and spread your toes.  Toes activated starts the muscular energy rising in the legs.  From your toes to your pelvis, draw the muscles up.  Keep the contraction in the legs rising.  Calves are firm.  Quadriceps are firm.   Keeping this rising energy towards your pelvis, now, from your pelvis down to your feet, root down.  Extend the leg bones.  Feel your connection back to the Earth.

3.  Staying connected to the strength in your legs, stick your rear end out into space (or the floor if you are on your back).  By sticking your butt out, your low back will arch (don’t worry, we’ll take care of that in step 4).   Now, broaden through the inner thighs, hips, and glutes.  This action helps the tailbone have room to descend.  Keep this broadening action to help the spine have freedom.

4.  While continuing to stay committed to your legs and staying with the broadening of your upper inner thighs/pelvis, scoop your tailbone forward.  Tone your abdominal muscles.  You’ll feel the low back lengthen.  And your strong abdominal contraction will help keep your low back protected.  Keep this.

5.  With the legs still rooted and the belly strong, lengthen the spine.  Try to lengthen the spine out of the pelvis.  Imagine with your energy, you are creating space between each vertebra.  Find your heart and draw it forward.  Extend your heart forward.  Then lift it up.  Draw your shoulder blades onto your back, helping to lift and open the heart.  Keeping the lower tips of your shoulder blades drawing towards your spine, lengthen across your collarbone.  Expand as if you were in a beautiful, strapless ball gown.  Feel your strength in the upper back.

Lengthen your neck and allow your head to curl back as a natural extension of your spine.

Continue to extend the spine out of the pelvis and offer this backbend to everyone you know.  Lengthen.       Lengthen.      Lengthen.      Open.    Open.        Open.

I’m always reminded of backbends in church when the priest says “Lift up your hearts.”  And the congregation answers, “We lift them up to the Lord.”

Stay connected.  Keep mentally cycling and physically activating through the 5  points as you hold the pose and breathe.

To come out of the pose, stay rooted in your legs, strong in the abs and lengthened in the spine.

A gentle and engaged twist followed by a forward bend (could be knees to chest or child’s) is a nice series of counter poses after a backbend.

Finally, smile!  Be thankful for this day and this opportunity to re-connect to a backbend in a positive way.  Remember, it all begins with attitude!  No more cringing!

first published online at copyright 2006   Lisa A. Long

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Changing How Things Feel

"White?" I queried out loud.  In my head, skeptically thinking, "I am paying a designer $180 to give me this creative answer? Plain old white?"  I was thinking of fun colors like cobalt blue or a brushed, metallic orange.

She responded, "It has to be the right shade of white. And, it will make your house pop with all the green."

After 16 years, it was time to change the exterior of our home. I spent 2 weeks hesitant with the decision of white shutters and trim until the painter said he would coat only two shutters so I could see the idea more clearly.

I respect others' expertise. That's why I hired a professional designer. Since I knew the color had to harmonize with the new roof shingles, I didn't trust myself to make such a huge, expensive and lasting decision.

Both my husband and I really wanted a fresh update. We wanted the exterior of our home to more fully reflect how we feel about the beauty of life. We both felt our home just "sat there" lacking vibrancy and sparkle. We wanted a big change.

And, that's the line of work I am in.

People come to me because they want to change. They want something to be different. Maybe, it's less pain or more power. Perhaps, it's vitality or ease. For some, it's about feeling connected. For new students, it can be challenging to see the path. My work is to help them feel their way with greater sensitivity. And sometimes, they just can't see it.

So, we paint a smaller picture - and they begin to feel different - often not even noticing the difference at first.  As an example, a male student recently told me that his calves no longer felt like they were constantly contracted. He said he couldn't remember the exact moment of the release, but recognized one day that it had been some time since he had felt the gripping in his lower legs. Meanwhile, I have the vantage point of being on the outside and see the student from all angles, I can see the changes, and they are dramatic!  What I saw long before he felt was that he was using his whole foot and rolling through his feet and ankles when walking. His gait had changed.

Any movement therapist will tell you, you can't change the walking pattern while walking.  The new pattern gets layered on in smaller, more fundamental movements that we break down and give to students as homework. Just a few brush strokes - so they can begin to sense the difference.

As I pour through nearly a decade of notebooks that I keep on my private students, I marvel at the changes that they have made. The before and after is striking. The work we do is fundamental combined with depth of understanding and progressive sequencing.

As I learned this past week with my home, sometimes we just have to trust that "plain old white" or really, "the right shade of white" provides dramatic results. The before and after picture says it all.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Water & Our Cells - Latest Research!

Please read about the work of Dr. Gerald Pollack, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington who has developed a theory of water that has been called revolutionary. The researcher has spent the past decade convincing worldwide audiences that water is not actually just a substance with only 3 states, ice, liquid and steam but a forth state in which water acts as a liquid crystal.

Water & Our Cells - A 4th State Beyond Solid, Liquid, Gas?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inflammation Ideas

Over the past few months, many students have talked me about inflammation in the body.   First, inflammation is a natural response that the body uses to protect itself.  When inflammation becomes chronic - that's when it becomes a bit more complicated.  From my perspective as a movement person, I often wonder why does the body need protection in this area?   Following this query, we begin to explore new movement pathways that help alleviate the chronic condition.

It just takes time - and a whole lot of patience.

As I indicated in a post in 2011, inflammation is a current hot topic in the research world.  So, we'll be hearing more and more about it in the mainstream news.  As you hear more about this topic, remember that inflammation is a natural reaction to injury or infection.  Any organ or tissue in the body, internal or external, can become inflamed.

As I have worked with inflammation in my own body, I have explored many things over the years.  I have listed below what I have found to be extremely beneficial for my body.  I do not do them all at once.  I alternate or may do a few in combination.  This is my top 12 in random order!  I have more!  This is a good start to a long list.

1.  2 tablespoons of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water

2.  Epsom Salt bath 

3.  Castor Oil - applied topically (rubbed on the skin) & as a pack across the liver.  Here's a video explaining how to prepare and apply the pack.  Please do not use Castor Oil during menstruation.

4.  Turmeric capsules (a cooking spice)

5.  Fresh Pineapple (can also explore Bromelain capsules which is the enzyme in FRESH pineapple)

6.  Boswellia Serrata capsules

7.  Milk Thistle capsules or drops

8.  Dry Brush (light stroke following the lymphatic system back to the center of the body)

9.  Ice & Heat alternating - as a heat source, I use a hot water bottle (most like our watery insides) instead of a heating pad. A now retired Chiropractor told me that there was once a study of chronic low back pain and the use of heating pads. And those individuals that regularly used heating pads as the source of heat had a significantly lower recovery rate.  He told me that the "why?" remains unanswered in the research.

10.  Elevation

11.  Acupuncture - especially Moxa (which I have a love/hate with!)

12.  Ultra Sound

Please know that you can support a healthy inflammation response with diet.  I recently read these words written by teacher, Lorna Sophocleous.

• Processed foods: We live in an industrialized society where many foods are mass produced and highly processed, which means they lack the nutrients that the foods had in their natural form. The nutrients to sustain good health, and avoid inflammation that will ultimately lead to premature aging and disease are missing. Simply put, “If it’s made in a plant, don’t eat it, if it is a plant, eat it!”

Processed foods are toxic; this is compounded by the growth hormones given to animals and the pesticides sprayed on our fruits and vegetables. No wonder we are inflamed!

• Sugar: Sugar is also toxic, especially in large doses. It creates a gooey, sticky mess inside the body and clogs up hormone receptors. Over time, excess sugar in the body links up with proteins, causing tissue to harden. This can lead to arthritis and even contribute to premature wrinkling.  Sugar can make you look and feel old.  It gives you brain fog; your pancreas releases insulin to stabilize your sugar. The adrenals are overtaxed, which can cause insulin resistance or better known as Metabolic Syndrome, leading to Diabetes II.

• Certain oils: Olive oil does not have a high smoke point and is unstable under high heat, which causes inflammation. You also lose its health benefits. When cooking, it is best to use coconut oil, ghee, peanut oil, and toasted sesame oil. Be mindful that a majority of prepared foods, including restaurant food, uses canola, soy, corn, safflower, and vegetable oil, which are all highly processed oils and toxic. Fried foods in these oils create inflammation.

• Avoid sugar. Eat things that have natural sugar in moderation. Sweeten things naturally with honey, molasses, Stevia, and date or coconut sugar.

• Avoid fried foods, refined carbohydrates and foods cooked in high temperatures.

• Use olive oil, hemp seed oil, sesame oil on salads and things without cooking them.

• Eat avocados, nuts and seeds for healthy fats.

• Omega 3’s are a must! Supplement from a high quality brand and eat wild salmon, sardines, which will also give you Vitamin D. Vitamin D should also be supplemented.

• If you smoke, quit now! It’s highly inflammatory.

• Eat organic fruits and vegetables.

• Maintain a healthy digestive system by incorporating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kimchi.

• Drink plenty of filtered water.

• Get plenty of exercise."

Please continue to research inflammation on your own.  Talk with your health care providers and make wise decisions for you.  You will know "in your gut" what's right for you.  Listen to yourself and trust.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our Interior Architecture

Here's a great link to see video of what's beneath the surface of our skin. This is the world I work with when teaching movement.