On Being A Core whisperer

"Flowing with Arcus…through the 3Core Connections® Embodied Perspective"

“Flowing with Arcus…through the 3Core Connections® Embodied Perspective”

I love how Arcus feeds a playful way of being with movement, and encourages our natural buoyancy and creative spirit. I hope you saw my colleague, Jenna Zaffino’s vibrant flow with Arcus that she posted recently! Our CoreStaff practitioners have also fallen in love with the way that Arcus so enhances the embodied perspective we teach at PCA.

I’m sharing a delicious flow that I have done for years with the Pilates arm springs and fuzzy straps on my hands… which is now even more fun with Arcus creating a more spatial relationship between my interrelated Lower Core, Central Core and Upper Core!

Here are the fabulous practitioners who attended the collaborative Arcus workshop at PCA with Trent and me. It was so inspiring to reconnect with some of the graduates of our 1996-2006 CoreConnections® Teacher Training Program who attended to go deeper in their embodied awareness with Arcus, and see how it applies to Pilates. I’m looking forward to hearing from you about your curiosities and questions so we can explore further. Let’s play together!

Trent McEntire teaching Arcus

 

Marcos Apodaca teaching Arcus

Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle with PCA grads

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"Your Biointelligent Body and the 3Core Connections® Embodied Perspective"

“Your Biointelligent Body and the 3Core Connections® Embodied Perspective”

I’m honored to invite you to explore your embodied wisdom with me!

The 3Core Connections ® Embodied Perspective is a body of work based on my lifelong journey to awaken my unique ‘Inner Teacher’….what Pilates Elder Mary Bowen would call “our journey to wholeness”. This journey which I am so privileged to share with you, is one that I hold much like the creation of a precious gemstone. It takes eons to make a gemstone - extremes of heat and cold, and the passage of time. Likewise, to create a life and career of "passion, purpose and vitality" (this has always been my mantra), requires a willingness to ongoingly discover knowledge of one’s authentic self, unearthing the wisdom of one's inner voice, along with the perception, skill, curiosity and commitment to be guided by this bio-intelligent wisdom. To all those who mentor and study with me, this is the journey we will take together ...Let’s Play!

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“Biotensegrity and Core Coordination for Knee Injury… Rather than Core Control”

“Biotensegrity and Core Coordination for Knee Injury… Rather than Core Control”

I’m grateful to be here today with Jae Hoon Lim, a professional dancer and Pilates teacher/practitioner who has recently begun working here at PCA. When Jae Hoon spoke to me about his knee injury, a lateral meniscus tear, which has affected his dance career, I suggested that we explore his injury through our 3Core Connections Perspective… a powerful relational way of “talking to his knee and it’s relationship with his whole body” in order that he can shift a long held habitual way of moving. This shift in perception will not just contribute to Jae Hoon’s way of being with himself….it will deeply affect his way of seeing and sensing what clients need, along with illuminating how he cues through directional touch.

This “conversation with your body” is a “biointelligent/biotensegrity” approach to movement, that sees the whole body in a global relationship with the injured part…the whole body supports the injury. This is very different than a “biomechanical” approach to movement, which sees the injured part as a local problem to fix.

Jae Hoon also shares another example of this “biointelligent/biotensegrity” approach to movement when he speaks about feeling the difference between his whole body “core coordination” Down the Back, and Up the Front, where his abdominals function in a spatial relationship… supporting the opening of his ankles, knees, and hips. This he notes is very different than the “core control” approach where the abdominals are an area of concentration, which tightens the back, hips, and joints.

The movement sequence we are exploring is based on the Classical Pilates Standing Footwork, which I was taught in my early training with Romana. In the Classical approach, the heels are touching, the tail is slightly tucked and the belly wall is held in toward the spine…with “core control”.

In this version, we are creating a more fascial approach to this Standing Footwork sequence, so that his knee is supported by his whole body’s biotensegrity:

  • Standing at the wall, with hands on the wall, sensing a relationship with soft eyes, wide chest, inner ear floating up, tail releasing down, and a small ball between your heels (a size that allows your hips to feel open, and your low belly to sense its natural lift)
  • The first exploration is…gently bend your knees very slightly, so your ankles soften, releasing your heels back
  • Bend only as much…so that you sense your “sitting bones connecting with your heels”…this is a somatic connection your body knows as feet to pelvis connecting
  • Inhale there, then exhale and relax into your feet and straighten your legs, without pushing your knees back
  • You may feel your natural “Domes of Uplift” awaken from inner ankle, to pelvic floor, to diaphragm, to thoracic inlet/armpits, to palate and cranium
  • Repeat this 3 times, deepening your sensations of support and breath
  • The second exploration is a rise on the balls of your feet…by releasing your weight forward without over-tightening your Achilles tendon…keep the soft “hover” of your feet, so your heels feel heavy as you lift through the inner arch
  • Inhale as you lift up…then exhale and gently release down
  • Repeat this sensation 3 times
  • The third exploration is like the first….gently bend your knees very slightly, so your ankles soften, releasing your heels back…and then softly float onto the balls of your feet so your heels lift in a hover…sensing your legs relationship with your spine and diaphragm
  • Inhale, and, keeping your heels lifted in a small releve, extend your legs
  • Exhale, releasing down to the mat
  • Repeat 3 times
  • The fourth exploration begins like the second… rise on the balls of your feet…by releasing your weight forward without over-tightening your Achilles tendon…keep the soft “hover” of your feet, so your heels feel heavy as you lift through the inner arch
  • Then gently bend your knees… only as much so that you sense your “sitting bones connecting with your heels”…this is a somatic connection your body knows as feet to pelvis/pelvic floor/spine connecting
  • Then gently lower your heels, keeping your knees bent…and
  • Straighten your legs from grounded feet..sensing a whole body body ..bioinintelligent/biotensegrity approach to recalibrating your body’s relationship with gravity and spatial orientation!

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“Setup On Pilates Cadillac Tower Setting as Natural Hip Opener”

“Setup On Pilates Cadillac Tower Setting as Natural Hip Opener”

In this video, our Senior PCA CoreStaff Practitioner, Marcos Apodaca, is sharing how he is meeting the rigors of his October Spartan Challenge Event, by using the distinctions he has studied in mentoring with me for over 10 years. The exercise we will be exploring together is an important “precursor “ to the traditional Tower, where his head would be on the Cadillac mat, with his hands on the silver poles, and his hips eventually lift off the mat.

As Marcos explains, his body is more muscular and tends to become too compressed with the heavier weight bearing exercises he is practicing for his Spartan Challenge. Recently he incurred an injury in his workout, but was able to self-correct and get back on track…because our 3Core Connections Perspective is grounded in creating a “conversation with his body” by listening to and being guided by what is needed in order to to feel connected with the earth, and supported by the space within and around his body.

Marcos begins by “setting his body up” so that his head is beyond the Cadillac poles, resting on a platform, with his feet on the Tower bar, and his hips on the mat directly under his feet. This “Setup” allows his feet and back to open spatially, and his hips, not his low back, to take the pressure of his legs bending and straightening from breath support.

In this whole body “setup”, you will notice that, as Marcos bends his knees softly, his back, shoulders and hips open to breath on the INHALE, and as he EXHALES, his spine lengthens…”down the back..up the front”… and connects fascially with breath.

This “precursor” to the traditional Tower opens his body to the very deep support of the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments that hug the spine front and back, and their connection to the “domes/diaphragms of uplift” from feet to head. By building this awareness along the spine, and connection from foot to head and hand, the Tower exercise becomes more manageable, and less compressive to the low back and neck.

Marcos then explores the movement with one foot on the bar and the other foot in a standing position. I am supporting his foot, as though it was touching a wall, to create a spatial opening of widening the metatarsal heads…this lateral/peripheral awareness through his foot also creates an opening of his hips. He is also, in grounding through his standing foot, creating a “yielding to gravity…down the back” which opens his foot to internal lift from the inner ankle to inner ear “up the front”.

With his right foot on the bar and his left foot standing, he is also creating a right sitting bone to left heel connection, as he bends and straightens his right leg. This awareness is one we often create a powerful relationship with on the Reformer and Yoga Wall at PCA, as a distinction for how the legs connect with the spine…which is so powerful when we remember that, as our bodies are forming in the womb, the arms and legs grow spirally out of the spine, and that breath is the primal connector.

In this way of being with ourselves, hips open and ground us naturally through our feet, which creates support for the upper spine to feel naturally lifted, and we cultivate a more receptive and perceptive way of being in the world.

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Wendy’s Response to Rebecca Leone’s Video…RollUp vs. Short Spine…Where Does the Weight Go?

Wendy’s Response to Rebecca Leone’s Video…RollUp vs. Short Spine…Where Does the Weight Go?

Wendy’s Response to Rebecca Leone’s Video…RollUp vs. Short Spine…Where Does the Weight Go?
PLEASE READ THIS TO CLARIFY DETAILS IN MY VIDEO:
My colleague, Rebecca Leone, sent out a video email recently asserting that no one in the Pilates community was teaching “spine safety”, that her training with Romana did not include it, and that her new program had the “right” answer.

I felt it was important to respond, because, as a classically trained Romana teacher, I have a different experience. My early Pilates training was excellent from an intuitive, whole body experience that was more from a dancer’s perspective, emphasizing external turnout of the hips and more plantar flexion of the feet. I feel that when this approach to Pilates is taught by a teacher who truly understands Pilates as a body of work based on “principles of moving”, not just exercises, that “spine safety” can be present. I know many teachers, from varied Pilates teaching styles, who are excellent examples of this approach to teaching.
What I felt was missing in my training was a deeper, updated, embodied understanding of how MY body works, in relationship with gravity as a partner, rather than “fighting gravity”, as Romana often stated, and as Rebecca states in her video “the floor is not your friend”.

What I have been studying over the years is that it all depends on where you are coming from…where you will wind up. Or as one of my mentors, Judith Aston, would say, “SET UP to Sequencing Equals Result”, i.e., if gravity is your enemy, you will use tension to “fight it”…tending to control your body, and seeing the world through a right/wrong perspective. If gravity is your partner, you will learn to release/yield into its support, and use “what’s just enough effort for the movement”. This biointelligent approach is not based on right/wrong…rather it is founded in cooperation.

The question is, how are we setting ourselves up for success? When we move from a biointelligent approach, we discover a global, whole body tensegrity that guides us in moving as a deeply intelligent organism that knows how to heal itself. This biointelligent approach to movement sees “Core” as relationship: with gravity, ourselves, one another and our environment…so, rather than an abdominal tightening approach, the ROLLUP would be done from a relational, weight shifting approach to movement. For instance:

In the ROLLUP that I begin with on the video, rather than curling forward and collapsing at the body’s release valves of C1, C7, T10, 11, 12, and L5, S1, which Rebecca notes is how Pilates ROLLUP is usually done…..notice that, I first soften and widen my gaze, chest and hips and heels into gravity, as my arms lift to create a spatial relationship from foot to head and hand. By using 3# weights in my hands, I am yielding the weight of my shoulder blades into the Down the Back “waterfall” from shoulder blades to feet, which supports my head, chest and spine lifting off the mat, without collapsing. With this SETUP, yielding into the mat, and breathing into my back, my back opens spatially and allows my primordial midline (including the psoas) along the front of my torso, to fall back toward my spine as I curl up. I naturally feel an eccentric lift supported and suspended through my spine from hand to hips to feet.

Rebecca asks viewers if they feel the skill and strength of a ROLLUP is a requisite for SHORT SPINE…and yes, I do. Yet, we would see it from different perspectives. In the ROLLUP, when we widen our feet and arms slightly, the periphery of the body (lateral support) creates a spatial container that allows the spinal vertebrae to move sequentially from an anterior to posterior position as we roll forward. If that is not happening in ROLLUP and the lumbar or thoracic spine is locked in extension, then the SHORT SPINE lift of the hips will not be internally supported by breath, and the release valves of the spine take too much pressure. If you are collapsing in your spine, or locked in extension, doing OVERHEAD will not be possible…so we see how SETUP to Sequencing equals Result!

In the modified ROLLOVER, JACKKNIFE, SHORT SPINE sequence which I am demonstrating, the SETUP is important because I am placing a folded yoga mat under my torso which helps release my head into the mat, softening the front of my neck. By softening my eyes, chest and widening my arms, I am asking my body to create SPACE for my spine to release into gravity.

The “double spiral arm platform” is a major 3Core Connections UPPER CORE support for inversions. Begin creating your platform, by allowing your arms to open wide, releasing the front of your shoulder. Keeping your palms facing up, bring your arms alongside your body, sensing the back of your arms on the mat (this back of the arm connection is related to your “waterfall” down your back – from shoulder blades to sitting bones, tailbone to feet). Next, counter spiral your lower arm so your palms are facing the mat, without rolling your shoulders anteriorly, so you can feel a very deep relationship with the mat from head to tail, and back to shoulders to hands….this is your UPPER CORE PLATFORM.

The KEY to an eccentric lift of ROLLUP or SHORT SPINE is moving from the “2 Directions of your spine…Inner Ear to Tail” …so that your hands are connected “through your shoulder girdle” and “rooted” to your spine…and your feet and legs are connected “through your pelvic girdle” and rooted to your spine. You have now created your “tensegrity” whole body support, with your spine and limbs moving in whole body core coordination, supported by your breath.

From this GROUNDING through the UPPER CORE PLATFORM, begin to reach through your feet to roll your spine off the mat. It is the REACH through your TAIL and FEET, and the grounding through your heavy SHOULDER BLADES and HANDS, with your INNER EAR and releasing and widening in the opposite direction that floats your body off the mat. You will notice, as I demonstrate these inversions, that I am not compressing my neck, and my throat is open so I can speak clearly.

Rebecca mentioned she is inquiring into the question “can the hip extensors lift the hips”? My experience shows that, since the body does not isolate muscle usage…it sees the body as one muscle…. the whole body is used in some capacity in every movement. What I’ve also discovered in studying with Advanced Structural Integration Practitioner and Scientist, Hubert Godard, is that the HAMSTRINGS are Tonic (gravity based) muscles that work directly with the internal lift along the front of the spine, when we allow the “2 Directions of the Spine” and are in relationship with gravity’s support. So, in this biointelligent approach to movement, the HAMSTRINGS assist the extension of the hips, whether STANDING, doing a LEG CIRCLE, or rolling up in an INVERSION. You can see more about this inquiry about HAMSTRINGS related to front of the spine, in my PCA video blog entitled “Wendy Speaks about Hamstrings as Intrinsic Muscles for Postural Patterning”. http://www.pilatescenterofaustin.com/_video_blogs/passing_the_torch.html#torch8

I’d love this inquiry to open a discussion among us….what is your experience with “Spine Safety” in Pilates? As the great poet Rumi reminds us…”Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing…there is a FIELD…I’ll meet you there!”

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Evolving Classical Pilates…Flowing with Gravity…Parakeet, One-Leg Rollup, Climb a Tree

Evolving Classical Pilates…Flowing with Gravity…Parakeet, One-Leg Rollup, Climb a Tree

How do we cultivate “uprightness” without extra effort? Verticality is a natural human pattern that we learn as babies, and yet we often lose it over the years, and begin to struggle with regaining it.

Deepening our understanding of how natural “lift” happens, what I notice is that, often, one of the “2 Directions of the Spine” is missing, along with a greater relationship of how BREATH SUPPORTS MOVEMENT…some people seem too compressed, and their body calls out for eccentric suspension… and some people often seem suspended by the inhale, and deeply need to release and exhale in order to ground themselves.

Today we’ll be playing with a sequence of Pilates movements that ask for a deep relational way of being with ourselves (Down the Back to ground, and Up the Front to feel suspended and able to reach hand or head) in order to flow from one movement exploration to the other.

We’ll begin with building the PARAKEET, legs extending to the bar. As Gary releases (yields) his body into the mat, sensing gravity’s support, his feet extend to the high bar. Bending his knees, his EXHALE draws the bar down, connecting sitting bones to heels. INHALING, pausing for a moment, then EXHALING, Gary begins extending his legs to the low bar..sensing how the lower leg releases from his “Down the Back” (DTB) support of shoulder blades, sitting bones, tailbone to the tripod of the feet. His upper leg is supported…beginning from the inner ankle, inner thigh/hamstrings and connecting through the “low belly suspenders” of the front of the pelvic floor, front of the spine to the inner ear “Up the Front” (UTF).

From this relational “tensegrity” support, of a straight leg with inner ankle to inner ear support, Gary releases the front of his ankles, as his knees bend and his heels release down, BREATH draws his knees toward his torso in order to extend his legs high. His tail naturally follows his feet in a high bridge…and reaching into one foot, the other naturally floats off the bar, supported by the grounding of his UPPER CORE (back of the arms and waterfall of the spine in opposition to the inner ear lift supported by “shoulder blades to internal belly (SBIB) – the NEW POWERHOUSE”)

From PARAKEET, Gary floats into ONE LEG ROLLUP…a distinction that we teach in the 3 CoreConnections Perspective…which is great for people who have difficulty with the Full Rollup due to chronic back tension. One leg Rollup teaches the proper lift of the spine in relationship with gravity and spatial orientation (DTB, UTF, SBIB), and will build the proper ROLL UP support. The most important piece of One Leg Rollup is sensing the opposite sitting bone to opposite foot, which levels the pelvis and creates the proper grounding and lift through the eccentric support of the spine and legs.

From ONE LEG ROLLUP, we moved naturally to CLIMB A TREE…maintaining the grounding through the foot and opposite sitting bone toward the PUSH THRU BAR, sense your HEAVY TAIL…and the lift of inner ankle to inner ear that walks you up your lifted leg. Remember that releasing “Down” creates “Lift”.

Notice that I’m using “just enough” touch to support Gary in his movement flow...I am part of his movement. We call this distinction in our 3Core Connections Perspective, “whole person touch” …“adding what’s missing”. This is very different than “fixing what is wrong” . This approach to teaching gets people out of their heads and into their bodies…sensing how gravity can support a deeper awareness of being with themselves….and opening to a whole new way of moving and being in the world!
Remember, as JAMES BROWN so famously said “You gotta GET DOWN… to GET UP!”

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Evolving Classical Pilates…Big and Baby Swan, on Matwork and Push Thru Bar

Evolving Classical Pilates…Big and Baby Swan, on Matwork and Push Thru Bar

The Pilates SWAN can be a problematic exercise for so many people…why is that?Body tension patterns, like chronically tight back, hip flexors and shoulders are the norm today due to so much improper sitting and not enough movement to create release and grounding support. So many people also have trouble with extension because they haven't explored the importance of moving…by allowing gravity to support the natural movement of their spine…Down the Back and Up the Front.

Let's explore the Pilates SWAN ON THE MAT. Traditionally, this "exercise" is done by stabilizing the shoulders and belly before moving. This way of sequencing tends to over-stabilize the shoulder and hip joints, and often creates more problems than it solves…tight diaphragm, jaw, shoulders, hips, etc.

In watching Gary, you can see that when he allows his pelvic bones to release into the mat, supported by the "waterfall of the spine – Down the Back"….as he looks along the floor and up the wall to sequence into SWAN, his chest and hips open naturally…and, as he says "by sensing my ability to "yield" into gravity's support, I'm gaining the support needed from the front of my spine, and grounded pelvis, so my back and shoulders don't have to do so much work."

By allowing the natural "weight shift " of his spine in gravity, the "Tensegrity" of his body from hand to foot, head to foot and hand, creates a "balance of forces" that supports his extension from "center to periphery and periphery to center". Gary is "energizing", by using his body's natural primal movement patterning…..rather than "exercising", in a learned, conceptual way.

SWAN…ON THE PUSH THRU BAR

Taking this understanding of sequencing through "weight shift" to the Push Thru Bar, as Gary "senses the weight of the bar in his hands"…..he begins to look forward…the "waterfall of the spine – Down the Back" bends his elbows, and widens his chest and softens his eyes, to create a natural uplift.

In BABY SWAN, he is only lifting to where his head is in line with the bar…you can feel this connection deeply in your body, where the waterfall meets the internal belly lift, which releases your neck and shoulders and supports your spine in length! Looking to the side, INHALING (I place my hands under his low ribs), and as he EXHALES, he softens his front ribs into my hands to deepen his exhale and connect his arms and shoulders more deeply to his spine's BREATH…it's a fascial understanding of hand to spine and tail and feet (As IDA ROLF said…we want to move "through the girdles" not over-stabilize them")

IN BIG SWAN, Gary is building on the shoulder and hip release he has felt in BABY SWAN, and as he begins to curl up, eyes leading spine, his shoulders waterfall down his back, connecting with his internal belly up the front, and that internal connection of BREATH, connects his hands to his feet and head….and his hands open to space by literally reaching deeply into the PUSH THRU BAR from his FEET!

It's an incredibly delicious feeling…you must feel it! COME PLAY!

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Evolving Classical Pilates, Wendy Interviews Author and Pilates Teacher, Gary Calderone

Evolving Classical Pilates, Wendy Interviews Author and Pilates Teacher, Gary Calderone

How does the way we approach Pilates Footwork by fascially opening and widening our front and back body, grounding through our feet and centering through whole body breathing… set the tone to an expanded understanding of whole body workout ?

This is a distinction I am discussing with my dear friend and Pilates Colleague, Gary Calderone, author of Pilates Path to Health: Body, Mind and Spirit…which is currently being edited to be re-published as Pilates Path to Health: A 21st Century Perspective of Whole Being.

As Classically trained Pilates teachers, Gary and I have, over the years been deeply interested in the relationships that enable us to access a deeper understanding of Joseph Pilates' vision: what is grounding that creates natural uplift? How can we have effort with ease? What is centering without over-stabilizing?

As Gary mentions, his experience in studying the 3Core Connections Perspective with me has revealed that Classical Pilates is often missing accessing the back body from head to foot: how does the "waterfall" of the shoulder blades relate to the tailbone/sitting bones to the tripod of the foot…and how does that empower internal lift…without excess effort!

Gary and I demonstrate a distinction that I teach called "The Breath Squat" which is grounded in softening and widening the back body, sensing the whole foot. The challenge here is in straightening your legs without gripping your ankles, knees and hips, cultivating a foot to head connection:

  • Lying on the Reformer, soften your gaze to allow peripheral vision to soften your back body
  • Exhale, sensing weight into your feet… straighten your legs to standing
  • Inhale, soften your knees just enough to sense your whole foot and sitting bones to heels connection…allowing your tail to be heavy and breath to open your back
  • Exhale, straighten legs to standing
  • As you inhale, softening your knees, you may notice that your breath into your back is allowing you to flex your hips deeper, so you are squatting deeper, without efforting
  • It's all about allowing yourself to "rest down" in your nervous system so that a more balanced sympathetic/parasympathetic approach to movement is achieved.

This way of being with yourself allows you to move to Pilates Footwork with less tension and more release. Gary is using a small ball between his heels to continue to deepen the release his sacrum is feeling …so his thoracic spine also began to feel more supported and buoyant.

As Gary mentions, by accessing his inner and outer foot to leg, without wrapping his thighs, he is balancing the forces on the front/back and sides of his foot to leg….and a deeper relationship between his whole foot and his whole body.

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A Conversation with Your Biointelligent Body…Hamstring Press on Pilates Chair

A Conversation with Your Biointelligent Body…Hamstring Press on Pilates Chair

Traditionally, in Classical Pilates with Hamstring Press on the Pilates Chair, we would use 2 springs at a prescribed setting, then "pull the navel to the spine and the shoulders away from the ears" in order to round forward and press the pedal down toward the floor. This approach to movement is more "muscular" and effortful, and bypasses the more updated knowledge we now have about "embodiment"….. how the way we move in partnership with gravity, supports the body as a fluid organism….and why we need to pay attention to the fluid dynamics of "tensegrity"….a term that was coined by Buckminster Fuller that refers to the dynamics of how our body works…our bones, are not rigid, compressive structures. Rather, they act as "spacers" floating in a tensional network of fascia that organizes and supports our bones, muscles, organs, etc.

I am exploring today's movement with 1 high spring (depending on strength of springs, could also be 2 low springs) to sense what is "just enough effort for the movement". As I allow my tailbone to be heavy into my feet, I curl forward to make contact with the Pilates Chair pedal. As I "yield to gravity's support", the contact of the pedal meets the skin of my hand allowing my shoulders to naturally release down my back, which allows my head to pour forward toward my hands. Rounding forward becomes effortless, and my hamstrings and calves naturally lengthen, my low belly and pelvic floor naturally engage, as the tensegrity of my whole body supports the movement.

Sensing my spine as a breathing, fluid organism that dynamically connects with my arms, hands, head, legs and feet, I open to my body's biointelligence and connection with my environment. When I "sense the 2 directions of my spine between earth and sky", my tailbone releases toward the earth. When I allow my eyes to soften so I can see the sides of the room (peripheral vision), my body opens to its natural 3 dimensional, spatial awareness…chest widening, jaw softening…muscles and bones are supported by a fascial web from foot to head and hand that distributes the weight of the "load", allowing tight muscles and problem areas new layers of release.

Moving between arch and curl from this place of fluid resonance, dancing between the support of hands and feet…. is deliciously rewarding..my body is so grateful for this conversation … gravity becomes the therapist …and movement becomes medicine!

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Gravity is the Therapist…Flossing Your Leg's Relationship with Your Primal Midline and Diaphragm

Gravity is the Therapist…Flossing Your Leg's Relationship with Your Primal Midline and Diaphragm

I've had a request from a number of teachers and clients to clarify a distinction that I've been teaching for a number of years. In our exploration of Down the Back, Up the Front where we're sensing our whole body's relationship within the field of gravity, how does the leg connect to the spine…in other words….. how do the diaphragm and hamstrings become postural support for how the leg functions with the psoas and primal midline?

Let's look at the RED theraband, behind the GREEN theraband on Mr. Bones….it's demonstrating the grounding from the Hamstrings and knee to the tripod/sole of the foot..and lift from the back of the leg through the Hamstrings, coming forward through the adductors, front of the pelvic floor, along the front of the spine to the lumbodorsal junction where the crura (roots of the diaphragm) connect with the spine.

The lumbodorsal junction is a crucial place for us to have movement awareness…it is the area at the lower thoracic and upper lumbar which is supported by our internal organs, the superficial and deep layers of the abdominals and lumbodorsal fascia and enables us to twist contra-laterally in walking (many people lose this natural ability, which contributes to unnecessary pelvic floor and hip tension and back pain).

The Hamstrings are tonic muscles, meaning they are slower to fatigue and more able to support our postural tone with less tension when they are connected properly by grounding with the feet below, and lift along the front of the spine to the inner ear. What supports this proper function of the back of our leg to the front of our spine, is when we access the relationship between our "Hamstrings and Diaphragm as postural muscles"…. In other words…how we use ourselves and breathe affects our overall body tension and tone.

The GREEN theraband is demonstrating how grounding from the red theraband into the tripod of the feet ignites (wakes up) lift from inner ankle, to inner thigh, through front of the pelvic floor, along front of the spine to the inner ear.

With the YELLOW theraband, I am demonstrating the reciprocal relationship between our:

  • Down the Back…yielding to gravity (grounding to earth) which begins at the manubrium, the tip of our sternum, travels along the widening clavicles and waterfalls down the shoulder blades, along the spinous processes of the spine to the sitting bones/tailbone to the tripod of our feet….
  • This ignites (wakes up) Up the Front…suspension and (lift to sky and space) which begins at our inner ankles, travels along inner thighs..connects to the Hamstrings, adductors, front of the pelvic floor, along the front of the spine, to the inner ear!

When we get in touch with this reciprocal relationship, we can naturally allow our tail to be heavy for grounding, which allows the inner ear and shoulders, neck and jaw to be light and supported by HOW WE BREATHE…because where our diaphragm lives in relationship with our head and tail is crucial for natural postural support.
Remember that there is no one important muscle in the body…as Phillip Beach states in my interview with him in 2014, the psoas is not the most important midline muscle in the body. Without breath, nothing matters.

Let's be curious about how we function…discovering new ways of being with ourselves that wake us up to our wholeness and aliveness…and a deeper relationship with one another!

anatomy

This drawing from Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy entitled the Posterior Abdominal Wall is one I call "The Front of the Back". It is a powerful image of relationships. Notice that the abdominals and the internal organs have been removed, revealing the synergistic relationship between the diaphragm and its roots from the central tendon into the spine, QL, pelvic floor, psoas and iliacus and their relationship from the spine to the leg. Learning to access these relationships in fluid movement changes how you use yourself in daily life and self-heal.

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Wendy Sharing about Unraveling Her Trauma...it's not a Problem...It's a Process

Wendy Sharing about Unraveling Her Trauma..It's not a Problem
...It's a Process

"What would you do if you woke up one morning and your left arm wasn't functioning? That's what happened to me last Tuesday morning. I was not able to lift my arm...I had no muscular control, and it acted in spastic ways, recoiling toward my chest, or totally weak.  I thought I might have had a small stroke during the night, so I called my doctor and made an appointment.

My doctor is not a drug dispenser; he did some tests and both of us could tell that I had not had a stroke…yet, he really didn't know what was going on. He advised me to keep noticing what I might have done that might be creating compression of a nerve.  

That night while attempting to bring my hands toward my face to wash it, I had a flashback to the head-on collision I was in 8 years ago, where my sternum was cracked and I had a severe whiplash.  After the accident, I could not bring my hands to my face for several weeks, because my arms did not have the support of my mid back because of my cracked sternum and neck trouble…it really gave me a deeper understanding of the intrinsic power of what I am describing in the 3Core Connections® Perspective as the Upper Core (upper gravity center).

With this insight, I realized that my mid back area which has been itchy for years after the accident was not itchy, and yet my arm wasn't working.  As we know, the biointelligent approach to movement is about fluid movement in relationship with the gravitational field. As I explore sounding, and deeper breath awareness with movement,  my body awareness patterning has been altered over the years by the potent somatic practices that I have studied and now that awareness has dramatically shifted the way I cue movement with voice and touch as a movement educator.

This experience is enabling me to be present to the trauma pattern that occurred during the accident and the possibility of unraveling trauma naturally in layers over time.  My arm has continued to improve throughout this past week…and because of how I listen to my body's guidance, it is teaching me what to do to continue to unravel the trauma…this is an incredible experience, and one I am very grateful for that enables me to hold a more potent space for others in their life processes.

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Hamstring Press on Pilates Chair….2 Directions of Spine Leading Arms

Hamstring Press on Pilates Chair….2 Directions of Spine Leading Arms

Traditionally, in Classical Pilates with Hamstring Press on the Pilates Chair, we would use 2 springs at a particular setting, then "pull the navel to the spine and the shoulders away from the ears" in order to round forward and press the pedal down toward the floor. This approach to movement is more "muscular" and effortful, and bypasses the more updated knowledge we now have about how "fascia" supports and moves the body as a fluid organism….and why we need to pay attention to the fluid dynamics of "tensegrity"….a term that was coined by Buckminster Fuller that refers to the dynamics of how our body works…our bones, are not rigid, compressive structures. Rather, they act as "spacers" floating in a tensional network of fascia that organizes and supports our bones, muscles, organs, etc.

By sensing my spine as a fluid tensegrity structure that dynamically connects with my arms, hands, head, legs and feet, I open to my body's biointelligence and connection with my environment. When I "sense the 2 directions of my spine between earth and sky", my tailbone releases toward the earth. When I allow my eyes to soften so I can see the sides of the room (peripheral vision), my body opens to its natural 3 dimensional, spatial awareness…chest widening, jaw softening…muscles and bones are supported by a fascial web from foot to head and hand that distributes the weight of the "load", and often tight muscles, and problem areas can find new layers of release.

As I allow my tailbone to be heavy into my feet, I curl forward to make contact with the Pilates Chair pedal. As I "yield to gravity's support", the contact of the pedal meets the skin of my hand allowing my shoulders to naturally release down my back, which allows my head to pour forward toward my hands. Rounding forward becomes effortless, and my hamstrings and calves naturally lengthen, my low belly and pelvic floor naturally engage, as the tensegrity of my whole body supports the movement.

Moving between arch and curl from this place of fluid resonance, dancing between the support of hands and feet…. is deliciously rewarding..my body is so grateful… gravity becomes the therapist …and movement becomes medicine!

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Will is Becoming a Core Whisperer as He Heals his Knee Pain in One Session with "Core Coordination"

Will is Becoming a Core Whisperer as He Heals his Knee Pain in One Session with "Core Coordination"

I'm very grateful to Will Fleishman for joining me today to explore movement from our biointelligent 3Core Connections "Core as Relationship" Perspective. Will is a deeply intelligent young man who is studying Biology and is considering going into Physical Therapy as a career.

He came for a session today with a knee injury from rock climbing. His knee was painful and he was wearing a knee brace. What I knew would help his body is "decompressing" his knee from a whole body perspective.

Because he uses a Stretch-eze band for his Pilates matwork at home, and wanted to deepen his home practice…. we moved to using the Stretch-eze band to help him develop his Primal Squat to support and strengthen his knee. He wrapped one end of the band around a door handle to stabilize that end of the band as though he was squatting with a partner. Will was able to sense much more space and stability in his knee, as he slowly lowered his body, along with a deeper relationship between his feet, hips and spine. He was amazed that his knee was feeling better so quickly. I reminded him that the body's deep biointelligence is much smarter than our "over-thinking brain"….we are getting in touch with "movement as medicine" by partnering with gravity.

We then moved to other Primal Postures, such as Toe Sit and Hero….deepening his ability to rest down, by creating space in his knee joint by placing a pillow between his calf and thigh. This "set-up" awakens his body to its natural ability to ground and discover a natural uplift along the front of his spine.

We then returned to the Stretch-eze band and, along with deepening his Primal Squat, he played with the Open Leg Rocker with the band wrapped around each foot which shortened the length of the band so it created a more spacious, yet connected feeling from foot to head and hand when he rocked forward and back. He was definitely feeling how grounding, and creating a more peripheral spaciousness allowed him to access his primal midline lift naturally.

Will said he FELT AWESOME at the end…and he had no knee pain!

Wendy and Will on Caddie

Wendy and Will with stretch-eze

Wendy and Will with stretch-eze in caddie

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Wendy introduces the "On Becoming a core whisperer" series

Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle Introduces the :
"On Becoming a Core Whisperer Series" / Nov 2014

In the world of health and fitnss, "core" has largely become a buzzword, watered down as a profound distinction, and with that any real power of deep understanding and access.

In this enlivening series, we will explore Core as relationship: with gravity, ourselves, one another and our environment. And, how dynamic, life-affirming movement fully expresses itself through the expanded lenses that intersect Pilates and all the great body/mind disciplines…empowering us to… live life with passion, purpose and vitality.

When we open to "core as relationship", we awaken to our wholeness – our fluid resonance. Gravity ceases to be an adversary…and becomes a true friend. We are supported in our engagement with life, in the seamless dance that is our birthright.

Come join me. Let's explore together. Let's follow the breadcrumbs….

With deep love and respect, Wendy

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