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What is well-being and how do you achieve it?

11 Jan 2021
Well-being

What is well-being?

Finding and honouring ‘My-time’ …

One of the definitions of well-being I found stated:
Well-being is the highest possible quality of life in its full breadth of expression – socially, mentally & physically.
As you can see in the image, rock climbing is for me absolute well-being in all aspects.  
  • If I asked you if well-being is important to you what would your answer be? If you are like most people your answer will very likely be ‘Yes, it is important to me’.
 
  • And if I asked you to tell me what well-being is for you, what would your answer be? If you are like most people, you would have to think about this for a moment. So let’s do that: Take 2 minutes and write down what well-being is for you.
 
  • If I then asked you what you do to maintain well-being, what would your answer be? Again, if you are like most people, maybe you haven’t really come up with a plan and if you have how are you sticking to it?
Sticking to a plan is one of the hardest things to do, if you haven’t clarified for yourself, how you are going to stick to it and why it is important to you.    

Invest in yourself

I firmly believe that well-being starts with yourself – invest or gift yourself ‘Me-time’. ‘Me-time’ is important, no matter what ‘Me-time’ is for each of us. If you feel good with yourself you can be more to yourself and other people. If 2020 has taught me anything (and it has), it is how important it is to feel good with yourself and to know what matters to you. Such a year we have just left behind catapulted me out of my comfy-mode into being-challenged-mode. It definitely made me reconnect with what is important for my well-being. One word which stands out for me is ‘resilience’ – the ability to bounce back, both mentally and physically. I would like to share something, we discussed during my Franklin Method Educator Training – one of my Franklin Method teachers, Morten Dithmer, said:  
Well-being is not just something you have. It is an ability. It is something you can develop.
  For me this statement is empowering because I myself can do something about it – I am responsible. I am also grateful for living in a time where I can find many solutions online and where I can connect with people who I know can facilitate maintaining well-being for me.  

My own investment in well-being

Two aspects in my own well-being are
  1. Movement – in any way possible, e.g. rock climbing as on the image above, Franklin Method, pilates, walking, bicycling etc.
  2. Develop new skill and deepen my knowledge in different areas of movement
Just before 2020 came to an end, I honoured this lavishly by first attending a full-day online conference on ‘The fascia of the pelvis’ hosted by The Fascia Hub. Some weeks later, I attended an online breathing event with Lotte Paarup from ‘Skolen for Åndedrættet‘. As a gift to myself I set aside 1 hour to practice the benefits of conscious breathing. I made another investment the other day: I spent 90 minutes in a ‘Feel your absolute best … no matter what online retreat’. This retreat was hosted by Rachael Hall who is another one of my Franklin Method teachers. The events with Lotte and Rachael were with 2 different persons whose thoughts and approaches to each their fields really resonate with me. What I liked about both events was that I had to slow down and be present. And when I do that I can start asking myself:
  • What is well-being for me?
  • What is my plan on how to maintain it?
  • And how do I make sure I honour this plan?

Your investment in your well-being could start here …

To maybe get you started, I would like to invite you to set aside some ‘Me-time’ and join me for 2 master classes on Zoom: Read more

24 gifts – day 24: Relax your body & mind

24 Dec 2020

Relaxation of your body & mind

 

How do you like the idea of lying down and relax your body and mind?

There is probably no faster way to relax and refresh your body and mind than to lie down for a couple of minutes, close your eyes and focus you mind on your body.

I am sure you know this but how many of us use this actively, plan it and stick to it?

I don’t know about you but I definitely need more of ‘a couple of minutes lie down, close my eyes and relax’ in my life.

In my evening pilates classes, I usually include a relaxation exercise at the end of each class. It is no more than 3-4 minutes long. But I sometimes suspect that my clients only come for that: Lying down after a long day. And they put up with whatever I have planned for them in the classes to get it ;o).

There are many ways to ‘lie down and relax’. Many focus on the breath.

I have chosen a 10 minute relaxation exercise in constructive rest position. This usually means that you are in semi-supine or your legs rest on a chair or box. You should feel comfortable, of course.

During this constructive rest, I will draw your attention to the areas of you body which are in contact with the floor. This will focus your mind on your body and away from other – maybe anxious or upsetting – thoughts. I have included to address the eyes because we spend so much more time in front of a screen right.

The main image I will refer to is weight and gravity.

 

 

What is the exercise about?

  • This exercise is about relaxing your body and mind.
  • To take a moment of ‘time out’

 

What do I like about it?

  • It is an easy way to refresh your body and mind during the day.
  • Constructive rest position with a focus area is a great way to create awareness of different parts of your body.
  • It is very calming for the whole body and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • The exercise can easily be integrated into a pilates environment where you would like to add an element of rest.

 

What prop do you need?

None – unless you know that you need to put up your legs.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • A Corona-friendly Friday bar in a pilates studio where we focused on slowing down and finding inner-cosiness. This included a relaxation exercise similar to this one.

 

I offer short workshops for your clients in your pilates studio which I can tailor to your and your clients’ needs.

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 11:24 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 23: Add more spinal rotation to your life

23 Dec 2020

Spinal rotation

 

Add more spinal rotation to your life

Spinal rotation is one of the movements we tend to loose quickly in our modern more sedentary lifestyle.

The ability to rotate your spine has a big impact on the quality of your movements.

Spinal rotation

  • does not only keep the joints of our spine healthy
  • but it also has a positive effect on keeping our myofascial structures hydrated and flexible.
  • And not to forget that we also keep our organs toned by rotating our spine.

One thing I find really fascinating about the spine is that the movement potential between the individual facet joints is really small. But put them all together and you get an impressive amount of movement out of it.

And than there is the fact that the different parts of your spine can rotate independently from each other, i.e. in different directions.

Let’s explore this with an exercise from The Franklin Method. This rotation sequence is part of a longer sequence ‘The Spine Dance’ in which we move the spine in all its possible directions.

For some people this exercise also require some coordination & proprioception efforts because your rotate around yourself at the same time. And these efforts usually have people laugh which is always a good thing.

The sequence is also usually done with music to add a rhythm and flow. So find you favourite groovy movement and let’s rotate.

 

What is the exercise about?

  • Mobilising the spine.
  • Create aware of how the different parts of your spine can rotate in different directions.
  • Improve proprioception of where your are located in space.

 

What do I like about it?

  • You use a very simple movement – rotation  –  to create awareness of the movement potential of your spine.
  • Because you twist your spine your have a hydrating and lubricating effect on your myofascial structures of your torso.
  • The exercise can easily be integrated into a pilates environment or any other training programme to add variation to the usual spinal rotation.
  • There is an element of choreography which requires some coordination which again is good for improving your sense of where you are in space.
  • It is a fun exercise. People usually laugh about themselves (including myself) about how they get confused about where they are in space and how to rotate the spine.

 

What prop do you need?

None

 

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • The Franklin Method – pelvis, spine and shoulders

In this workshop I combine 3 short Franklin Method workshops

  • ‘Pelvic power’
  • ‘Imagery for a healthy, strong & youthful spine’
  • ‘Release your neck & liberate your shoulders’

to a full-day workshop. We go through the bone rhythms of the 3 body areas and explore them by using a variety of dynamic imagery.

You already had a taster of ‘Release your neck & liberate your shoulders’ and ‘Pelvic Power’.

 

 

If you are curious about The Franklin Method, take a look at their website or mine.

You might also be interested to know that The Franklin Method Teacher Training Level 1 will run in October 2021 in Denmark. You can read more about the first module here.

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 2:19 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 22: Can focusing on your kidneys release your thoraco-lumbar fascia?

22 Dec 2020

Focus on kidneys

Can focusing on your kidneys release your thoraco-lumbar fascia?

Have you ever included focusing on your organs in your own movement practice?

I didn’t. So adding them into my movement experience has been quite the revelation to me.

Not only did I learn more about my body in general, in terms of how the organs function, where precisely they actually are located and what there relationship is to neighbouring structures, such as the psoas.

But I have also gained a greater appreciation of my body as a whole. So much is going on behind the scenes – so to speak – which enables me to live my live in the way I like. I find this rather mind-blowing.

Therefore, I would like to share a shortened version of one of the embodiments from my Franklin Method Educator Level 3 training. We will focus on moving from the kidneys. More precisely,

  • we will place 2 orange Franklin Balls under our pelvis
  • we will imaging holding our hands around the kidneys
  • we will draw where the ureters run from the kidneys to the back of the bladder with our hands
  • we will add anterior and posterior rotation of the pelvis
  • in our mind we will create different types of imagery.

I could have chosen an organ which is much more ‘trendy’ like the lungs or the heart. But I choose the kidneys because my journey into the world of the Franklin Method started with a workshop about the kidneys 5 years ago. But I will share more about the outcomes of that journey in a couple of weeks when I have finalised my Level 3 training.

 

What is the embodiment about?

  • This embodiment can help release tension in your thoraco-lumbar fascia
  • We add some proprioceptive input by lying on 2 small soft balls.

 

What do I like about it?

  • You use anatomical imagery of the kidneys and ureter and create awareness of this part of your anatomy.
  • Not only does this embodiment have an effect on your thoraco-lumbar fascia but you might also feel how it releases your abdominal wall.
  • It has a positive effect on your posture.
  • You might find that your psoas feels more relaxed – so focusing on a neighbouring structure like the kidneys can be a different approach to working with psoas issues.
  • You have a proprioceptive aspect because you use your hands. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • You are lying on 2 small soft balls and therefore you have the release aspect in your gluteus maximus because you are massaging the myofascial structure in this area.
  • This is a very mindful exercise because you turn your focus inside towards some anatomical areas which you maybe aren’t so familiar with.
  • It has a calming effect on your state of mind and your breathing.

 

What prop do you need?

  • 2 orange Franklin Balls – or balls of similar texture and size
  • The best prop of them all – your hands … ;o)

 

Where to place the prop

  • The balls go under your pelvis in gluteus maximus area
  • The hands are placed ‘around your kidneys’.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • The Franklin Method Educator teacher training – Level 3

 

If you are curious about The Franklin Method, take a look at their website or mine.

You might also be interested to know that The Franklin Method Educator Training Level 1 will run in October 2021 in Denmark. You can read more about the first module here.

 

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 9:51 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 21: Lower back fascia release with 1 ball and simple movements

21 Dec 2020

Lower back fascia release

Low back fascia release with 1 ball

How starting your exercise off-neutral can be as valuable as starting in neutral for releasing your lower back

In pilates, we focus on finding neutral starting positions which can simplify movements for the clients and also simplify teaching a movement. In neutral, your myofascial structures might also be in a better starting position for contracting and releasing.

However, our body is seldom in neutral. While we move, we go in and out of neutral all the time, no matter the position the body is in.

So how would it be to start a movement ‘off-neutral’? I never really thought about it until some years ago when I attended a workshop with Nathan Gardner with Body Control Pilates where he used this idea to rebalance the spirals in the body.

Does it surprise you to learn that I was excited to bring this idea into my own practice and into my own classes? ;o)

I want to stress that it doesn’t mean that starting your exercises in neutral is a wrong choice. Not At All! I just think that incorporating off-neutral starting positions can expand your tool box of creating variations to well-known exercises and stimulating our small grey cells to avoid going too much into autopilot.

This exercise wasn’t from Nathan’s workshop but certainly inspired by it. We will explore an off-neutral starting position in the pelvis by lying on a Franklin ball. We will do 2 very simple movement which in Body Control Pilates, we call Compass:

  • Lifting the pelvis up and down imaging lifting & lowering our ASIS (East – West)
  • Going into anterior and posterior rotation of the pelvis (North – South).

 

If the off-neutral starting position is too much for your sacrum, you can place a cushion/blanket under the side of the pelvis which is not resting on the ball.

 

What is the exercise about?

  • Mobilising the hip joints
  • Releasing tension in our myofascial structures around the pelvis and lower back.

 

What do I like about it?

  • You use natural simple movements of the hip joints to create awareness of where to move from.
  • You have a proprioceptive aspect because you lie on 1 ball. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • You have the release aspect because you are massaging your myofascial system.
  • You improve myofascial tone in the whole pelvic/lumbar region.
  • You can improve your overall posture.
  • Your body needs to coordinate the movement in a different way than normal – this stimulates the brain.
  • You activate your glute maximus and hamstrings in a very dynamic way without focusing too much on activating them.
  • The lower part of your rectus abdominus & the lower obliques get a nice little workout.
  • This is a great way to create a variation to a well-known exercise/movement.

 

What prop do you need?

1 orange Franklin ball – or similar texture and size

 

Where to place the prop

At the back of your pelvis, just above the ilium bone and beside the lumbar spine

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 6:15 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 20: An easy way to breath deeper and more fully

20 Dec 2020

Release diaphragm

 

An easy way to breath deeper and more fully

I wonder if there is a muscle hierarchy in the body.

We humans can certainly decide that this muscle is more important than that muscle.

But if you asked your body which skeletal muscle it would say is the most important one, my guess is it would say ‘the diaphragm’.

Without the diaphragm no breathing. Without breathing … well, no need to go there, I think.

Thankfully, the body takes care of breathing by itself. But we can give a helping hand or in this case some helping fingers.

The other day we did lung sponging. Now how would sponging your diaphragm look like or rather feel like?

There is so much attention on strengthening the abdominals. In fact, there is so much attention that maybe we sometimes forget that if you abdominals are too strong, it can have a negative effect on your breathing simply because your myofascial structures are too tight.

I find that imaging that you sponge your diaphragm can release some of this tightness and bring ease to your breath.

I will show today’s exercise “Sponging your diaphragm” sitting on a stool but I suggest that you do it lying on your back as you will relax the abdominal area much more.

 

What is the exercise about?

  • Bring awareness to your breath.
  • Release tension in the myofascial structures in your lower rib area

 

What do I like about it?

  • It is calming because you slow down and focus on your breath.
  • The ability to enjoy a fuller breathing capacity has so many positive side effects.
  • I like the release in the myofascial structures in the abdominal area – it will make abdominal exercises so much more effective when they have been released a bit before.
  • It brings awareness to how the ribs move – or maybe don’t move or maybe move more on one side compared to the other.
  • You mobilise your ribbasket.
  • It has an effect on your posture because you release the myofascial structures around your ribbasket.

 

What prop do you need?

The best prop of them all – your fingertips … ;o)

 

Where to place the prop

You start by placing them on the lower ribs and make your way underneath them when you breath out.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • The Franklin Method – Breathing

I taught this workshop as part of the training programme “Åndedrætsterapeut” in Skolen for åndedræt in Denmark.

 

If you are curious about The Franklin Method, take a look at their website or mine.

You might also be interested to know that The Franklin Method Teacher Training Level 1 will run in October 2021 in Denmark. You can read more about the first module here.

 

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 6:35 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 19: The trusty Roll Down spiced up

19 Dec 2020

Spine mobilise - Roll down

The trusty Roll Down spiced up

If there is one exercise, I teach the most in matwork classes it is the Roll Down.

I teach it in many different flavours. It is such a versatile exercise and so easy to create variations on and add flavours to by e.g. adding props or changing the position of your feet.

And todays flavour will be tapping which is an important ingredient from The Franklin Method. We will be tapping our body while we roll up and down.

 

What is the exercise about?

  • For me it is about bringing awareness to your spine and mobilising it.
  • By adding tapping during the movement we bring in some proprioceptive input which enhances the movement experience.

 

What do I like about it?

  • It is an exercise which is well-known to which I have added a little something to.
  • When you tap your back and your legs/feet during the movement, you stimulate your nervous system. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • I use this variation to prepare the body when I have planned more standing exercises because you very often get a change of posture
  • I also use this exercise when I have planned more spinal flexion or extension in supine or semi-supine – again to prepare the body with increased awareness of those areas.
  • You increase flexibility in your hamstrings.
  • The exercise can easily be integrated into a pilates environment or any other training programme.

 

What prop do you need?

The best prop of them all – your hands … ;o)

 

Where to place the prop

On your lower back, torso, pelvis, legs & feet.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

Body Control Pilates Teacher Trainer Programme.

 

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 3:45 minutes

 

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24 gifts – day 18: How a blanket can aid to release your lower back

18 Dec 2020

Release tension in lower back

How a blanket can aid to release tension your lower back

A blanket can come in handy for many things, e. g. to help you release your lower back. Maybe this wasn’t the first thing which came to your mind ;o).

Today’s exercise is about rotation:

  • Rotation of the spine
  • and lateral/medial rotation of your femurs.

And these 2 things alone can bring some wonderful relieve if you have lower back issues. Add a rolled up blanket to put under your pelvis and you can obtain another effect because you give the area some proprioceptive input.

We will also include some arm movement to connect the arms into the torso and create a sense of length at the back and front of the torso.

 

 

What is the exercise about?

  • Release tension in your lower back.
  • You also mobilise your hip joints and spine

 

What do I like about it?

  • It is a gentle exercise where you use the blanket instead of the foam roller.
  • The blanket is much softer than the foam roller which allows your myofascial structures to relax more easily.
  • The blanket isn’t as high as a foam roller which makes it easier to “ground” your ribbasket.
  • You can focus on the movement in your hip joint for mobility or allow the pelvis to roll along to get more a sense of lengthening in your abdominal area or maybe the quads..
  • You have a proprioceptive aspect because you lie on a blanket. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • You have the release aspect because you are stimulating your thoraco-lumbar fascia.
  • By adding the arms we turn this gentle exercise into a full body exercise where we connect the arms into the torso – we may feel the connect both at the front of the torso and the back.

 

What prop do you need?

A soft rolled up blanket.

 

Where to place the prop

Under your pelvis.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • A Corona-friendly Friday bar in a pilates studio where we focused on slowing down and finding inner-cosiness. This means that all exercises were done using a blanket.

I offer short workshops for your clients in your pilates studio which I can tailor to your and your clients’ needs.

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 4:13 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 17: How to do squats with more ease

17 Dec 2020

Squats

How to do your squats with more ease

Today we have another an embodiment from The Franklin Method

Squats are one of those exercises which are both functional and fun to do. So I try to incorporate them as often as possible in as many variations as I can come up with.

There are many ways to make squats feel more efficient, and today I would like to share one from The Franklin Method: Improve your squat by improving the bone rhythm between the femur and the tibia.

What are bone rhythms? Our bones move inside our body in relationship to each other in spirals or 3-dimensionally to create safe and efficient movement. However, we are not always aware of this relationship.

So, let’s explore one of the bone rhythms between the femur and tibia in knee flexion and extension. When you bend your knees, your femur spirals out, your tibia in. And the opposite occurs when you straighten your knees.

Normally, you do this exercise with a partner but I am showing how you can do it yourself.

 

What is the exercise about?

  • This embodiment is about improving the movement relationship between the femur and tibia which you can use for squatting, walking, running etc.

 

What do I like about it?

  • You use a very simple movement – knee flexion & extension  –  to create awareness of where the movement happens.
  • You have a proprioceptive aspect because you are guiding the femur and tibia with your hands. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • During knee flexion & extension you also perform hip flexion and extension with the other leg. Therefore, you also improve mobility in the hip joint.
  • You will also get some myofascial stretch on the front of the opposite hip.
  • The embodiment can easily be integrated into a pilates environment or any other training programme because focus is on the bone rhythm, i.e. how do the femur and tibia move in relationship to each other.

 

What prop do you need?

The best prop of them all – your hands … ;o)

 

Where to place the prop

One hand wraps gently around your femur, the other around your tibia.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

  • The Franklin Method Educator Training – Level 1, module D: The knees and the feet

If you are curious about The Franklin Method, take a look at their website or mine.

You might also be interested to know that The Franklin Method Educator Training Level 1 will run in October 2021 in Denmark. You can read more about the first module here.

 

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 4:00 minutes

 

Read more

24 gifts – day 16: How to improve neck mobility

16 Dec 2020

Neck mobility

How to improve neck & head mobility

What to do when your head just feels stuck on top of your neck?

Do you also sometimes find that your head feels as if there is no movement at all between the occiput, C1 and C2?

Just watch today’s video and you will see how stuck my head is on top of my neck.

And you will also see my go-to exercise or sequence to try to get some movement back into this area. First by focusing on the occiput, C1 and C2 and then connect the movement into the neck. Both happens with the fingers as I try to coax some release into the sub-occipitals and neck myofascia.

The key here is to use gentle fingers and slow down. The sub-occipitals are a small muscle group. Furthermore, the area is a sensitive one in the first place, so you don’t need a lot of pressure to stimulate it.

 

What is the exercise about?

  • This exercise is about releasing tension in the neck and improve mobility between the head and neck.

 

What do I like about it?

  • It gives you a feeling of placing your head properly back on top of your neck.
  • You use a very simple movements – flexion-extension, rotation, lateral flexion  –  to create awareness of where to move from.
  • You have a proprioceptive aspect because you guide the movement with your fingers. This stimulates the communication between the brain and body and there is therefore more clarity about where the movement happens.
  • You have the release aspect because you are brushing your myofascial system. The warm fingers add another dimension – that of adding “heat” to release tension.
  • This sequence is calming because you slow down.

 

What prop do you need?

The best prop of them all – your fingers and hands … ;o)

 

Where to place the prop

On the sub-occipitals.

 

Which course/workshop is the exercise from?

 

And here is the video …

Video length: 4:57 minutes

 

Read more