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August 4, 2020

Below are the images, slides and links from my talk about returning to circus training after a Four. Month. Break. This rest was not a fun four month sabbatical kind of break but more of a high stress, low movement, socially isolated and poor nutrition kind of pause. A break this big requires a very gradual easing back into training. How do I know this? Australian Institute of Sport and Rowing Australia have done the retrospective data analysis and mathematical modelling for us and a little further down you will see how the NFL learned their lessons the hard way.

This first graph from Rowing Australia shows that if an (elite) athlete takes two weeks off training but trains at 40% during their break then when they return they will then spend almost three weeks ramping (gradually progressing their load back up again). If they took 4 weeks off (yellow line) and did 20% (perhaps a day or two of exercise a week) then if we draw a line upwards from the 20% mark we hit 5 weeks o...

July 25, 2020

My quarantine body 

While writing letters and connecting with old friends I feel our bonds strengthen across seas and timezones

My limbs let me know that my foundations are shaky, my central nervous system sends a sharp message  “I am here”

Painted landscapes on walls are souvenirs of nature that I once visited

While my knee headlights point in other directions and my pain says to me: “you are important”

I can smell sun warm concrete after rain as my pelvis tilts as if pouring water to the ground below, and my lower back twinges as if to say: “I see you”

And my children throw themselves into the joy of being at home and laugh  

While breath rushes to my chest, shoulders rise, jaw clenches and I prepare for flight

My neighbour’s perfume transports me to childhood hugs and simple love

I breathe and centre myself

And we sit assembling a jigsaw, quietly being

As my body whispers 

I am here, 

you are important 

and I see you

For many people not only have they not been to a gym for four months they haven’t...

June 23, 2020

When I asked for requests for my the latest block of embodied anatomy classes three people ask for a series dedicated to our knees. So we covered hip flexors, spiral motion of the pelvis in gait, movement at the hip and knee and then had three classes on the ankle and foot. The class on the knee itself was very short. Why? Because, pain at the knee usually comes from the foot and pelvis. Someone with a stiff forefoot and a mobile rear foot often has a valgus (pulled inwards) knee. Someone who does not move fully into hip extension in gait adds extra load to the knees. When the hip does not fully extend and if the glutes don’t support your weight then your calf muscles must work over-time to push the foot off the ground. You can spot people who do this by their bouncy gait, or toed out walking. If the psoas won’t extend the hip then the body will create extension in the lower back to push the body’s centre of mass forward. Someone with a left rotated pelvis often feels strain through th...

June 5, 2020

We need sensitive people right now. And we need to foster sensitivity in our children.

Sensitive kids are seen as fragile and told to toughen up. But my daughter is fragile. She’s fragile like a mirror that shatters and reflects the shards of injustice in our world. She’s fragile like a dropped vessel that spills politician’s lies and hypocrisy. She’s fragile like a cracked lamp that sheds the splintered light of environmental concern through the room. She is our future and she is fragile. Fragile like a bomb. 

Yes, sensitive people are emotionally reactive but they reflect truth. They experience the world in a more vivid way, they are contemplative, they have empathy and intuition they are compassionate and kind. We turn to sensitive people in times of crisis when we want to feel heard. Their sense of integrity makes life better for everyone. We need these traits in our leaders. Gentle people need to step out of the shadows and become more visible because the world needs to see and hear...

April 16, 2020

A cracked ceramic coaster sits in the office. Made with the imprint of your 1 year old hand. You are ten now and strangely we are thrust back into that world of stay-at-home isolation. I remember the day we made the coaster. We went to the pottery place and covered ourselves in personal protective equipment. Clothes now safe, I let you smear paint all over the paper tablecloth. You spread and splattered colour everywhere. Once one hand was entirely covered I pushed it to the coaster and carefully placed it out of your reach. Brilliant, a Father’s Day gift had been made and an we had an interesting outing for the two of us - two people quarantined before it was compulsory. Those were the days when we were bound to the house for stability, for naps, for meals. That was my training for this time now. Adrift from regular life, lonely and trapped. I actually think the first years of your life were harder than this “self isolation.” Because there are four of us at home at the moment and my d...

March 7, 2020

The air now filling your lungs is shared with everyone in the same room as you; with everyone who has ever been in the room you are in; and with everyone who has ever walked this planet. Breathing isn’t just a biological process; it enables us to communicate, to speak, to create music. It can have deep cultural and spiritual meaning. It can be a marker of both health and illness. Though it is essential to life most of us happily take easy breathing for granted. It tends to be only when we encounter difficulties with breathing or have conditions that are improved with good breath - such as anxiety, prolapse, hernia, constipation - that we start to pay attention.  

I teach a six week block of classes that look at the anatomy of our breath. I use the Franklin Method approach and exercises and every session blows people away. These classes are amazing. I include my handouts of the six classes here. I leave out the pelvic floor at this stage as it gets introduced as the first topic in m...

February 10, 2020

There is nothing slippery about a disc. Discs are living adaptable force transducers that are firmly connected to the bones in your back and supported by really powerful ligaments. Diffs slip, soap slips, disc definitely don’t slip.

- G Lorimer Mosely and David S Butler  

Discs have a bad reputation. We associate them with the ideas of slipping, bulging, herniating, protruding, extruding and degenerating. But we have twenty three of them in our spines- surely they don’t all do this? And even if they do bulge, protrude or extrude this does not always mean that we have pain as a result. In scans of 98 asymptomatic subjects 52 percent had a bulge at at least one level, 27 percent had a protrusion, and 1 percent had an extrusion. This lead the researchers to conclude that the discovery by MRI of bulges or protrusions in people with low back pain may frequently be coincidental.

Our discs are amazing structures. They act as joints between our vertebrae, they separate and connect the many b...

December 31, 2019

Hooray it is almost a new year! Like a newly made bed or a first page in a notebook the first of January is a fresh start. This year I’m going to be making simple resolutions that should be easy to stick to. They are small changes to my daily routine that should keep me healthy and happy into this brand new decade - and you are welcome to join me.

The first is to floss my teeth once a day. I know in a perfect world this would be twice a day but I need to keep it real. Flossing regularly is thought to protect heart health because of the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory about why the two are linked is that bacteria from a mouth infection is thought to enter the bloodstream and then move its way to the heart and then be pumped to the rest of the body. Flossing is also good for our gums and if I am going to be invested in my health I need to include my whole body in that picture.

My next resolution is no screens after 9pm. I have an alarm on my phone that goes o...

December 5, 2019

For we all like figgy pudding,

We all like figgy pudding,

For we all like figgy pudding,

So bring it right here.

Surely not everyone likes figgy pudding? I don’t even know what figgy pudding is. Whatever your thoughts - we all know that this is a time of year for families, for gift giving and for feasting. It is also a time when our clothes fit a little tighter and (because we live in a fat phobic culture) we tend to feel bad about this. But you know what. Most people lose their winter weight in spring or summer. So what is going on?

Oh. And I am not a nutritionist. it is beyond my remit to give nutrition advice. I’m just a reader and really curious. This blog is brimming with links to the papers that my points have come from. Please do click on them to read more. 

So. Why do we put on weight over winter? There are many theories. The first one makes the most sense to me:

Our Genes...

October 28, 2019

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Though we don’t always intentionally do scary things, to move forward in life sometimes, we just do. Through progressions and confidence ladders gymnasts and circus performers learn skills and come to do really physically scary things. They also have techniques and approaches to help them work through fears and blocks.  I’ve started using some of the techniques that I used to use to overcome physical barriers to help me become braver in everyday life. Here are my favourites:

I am a great fan of mentally practicing the movement/ situation. This is  safe place to work through all possible scenarios while at the same time  activating the motor cortex in the brain and creating new neural paths for this mo...

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February 10, 2020

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Circus Bodies are strong bodies

Circus bodies are flexible bodies

Circus bodies are balanced bodies

Circus bodies - for EVERY body

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