MOVEMENT THERAPY

Alex Coleman's Top 6 Pilates Tips

Pilates Teacher, Alex Coleman breaks down her top 6 Pilates tips!

  1. Its about more the principles of movement less about “just doing” the movement

  2. Sets and reps don't matter, its all about form. (Everyone says Pilates teachers can’t count, its really because they are waiting for good form, and them maybe they’ll make you do 10 good ones )

  3. Sucking in your tummy doesn’t give you a strong core. This closes down the trunk and doesn’t promote core stability through movement, which is what it REALLY means to have a strong core. Its about finding and maintaining space in the body in all dimensions under load. What does this mean?... come to class

  4. Pilates is slow not because its boring. Its slow because you are re patterning your body to move correctly. And actually in this fast paced world its nice to go slow and focus deeply on your moving mechanics for an hour from time to time.

  5. If you’re not feeling it it’s because you’re not doing it right.

  6. Breathing is essential but don’t get too caught up in the choreography of breath and movement. When you are new just move and maintain whatever a normal breath is for you. The pattern of breath will come over time as you move.

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“No matter how different people are in their day to day living, there is one thing they all have in common. They want to look and feel better!”- Alex Coleman

Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Release

Massage Therapist, Cécile Dumont explains Fibromyalgia and the benefits of Myofascial Release!

Fibromyalgia (FMS) is an umbrella term used for a collection of physical, mental and emotional symptoms which include but are not limited to widespread pain in joints, muscles and soft tissues, fatigue, sleep disruption, digestive disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, mood swings/irritability and depression. This syndrome evolves on a daily basis and its unpredictable nature makes it long and difficult to diagnose.

Fibromyalgia is charactersed by the sympathetic nervous system going into overdrive, a phenomenon referred to as Central Sensitisation (CS). What does this mean? That even though there is no actual injury or damage to the tissues, the nervous system stays in a constant state of Fight or Flight. The reactivity scale goes through the roof and the brain’s response blows out of proportion. There might not be a physical cause to the pain experienced by a patient but it is absolutely real for the body. And one of the direct consequences of CS is chronic muscular tension leading to pain and fatigue. This sometimes also leads to hypersensitivity to touch – during a flare up, the touch of a feather for example can be perceived as excruciating by some patients (a phenomenon called allodynia).

When dealing with such complex syndromes as FMS or chronic fatigue/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), it is essential to bring the nervous system back to a calmer state, switching it from sympathetic (‘fight or flight’ mode) to parasympathetic (‘rest and digest’ mode). So when it comes to treating fibromyalgia and this hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, LESS IS MORE. And this is where Myofascial Release (MFR) comes into play.

More important than recounting the details of a traumatic event, is how your body responded to those events. Your body gives the roadmap for healing.

If a multidisciplinary approach and a network of care around the patient are essential when dealing with fibromyalgia, MFR has an important part to play in managing the symptoms day to day and in bringing emotional support - the power of touch and of a safe and caring environment should never be underestimated. Fibromyalgia can be very isolating and the person often disappears behind their symptoms in the eyes of the medical world. Body work in general but MFR in particular with the instinctive listening touch it offers can prove to be not only an ally to deal with the symptoms but a great way to recreate space for the person at the heart of it all.

MFR is a form of body work where the therapist doesn’t impose anything on the body but acts as a facilitator for it to release itself – through gentle sustained pressure into the tissues, the fascia progressively releases itself and the tissues regain more mobility, a phenomenon often accompanied by lesser pain, an improved range of movement and a deep sensation of relaxation. The fascia ‘melts’ from gel-like and restricted back to its more fluid nature (this 3D web of connective tissue is composed of elastin, collagen and grounding substance. It connects and interpenetrates every structure in the human body and solidifies as a reaction to physical and emotional trauma). It is interesting to underline here that fascia contains more nervous endings than muscles, making it it the main culprit for CS - as the latter is mainly triggered by an inflammation of the fascia - but paradoxically an essential ally in fighting the nervous wind up it generates.

It is recommended to keep treatments quite short (30 min of active release followed by more gentle techniques) and to keep the environment as neutral and comfortable as possible – unscented room, dim lights, blankets and pillows galore, etc. Everything should be aimed at soothing the Central Sensitisation and avoiding any unnecessary stimuli.

It is also essential to create a true connection and a relationship based on trust and comfort between client and therapist. The treatment room should be a safe space of understanding and nonjudgemental listening, a place of support in the difficult and challenging journey they embark on together.

MFR will not cure fibromyalgia but it helps lighten its burden and can prove a great source of progress, positivity and empowerment for the patient.

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When we try to understand and ease pain, we set in motion a wave of infinite love and possibility.

Yoga for MS, Parkinson's and other Neurological Disorders

by Dr Bryony Hughes, yoga teacher at Fix Studio

Earlier this year, I was invited to teach yoga to a small group of students with Parkinson's Disease.  With my background in medicine and a passion for making yoga accessible to everyone, I jumped at this opportunity.  It was been wonderful sharing the practice of yoga with this group.  Each week, I learn something new about how the condition impacts on my students' lives, and together we explore how different practices can help them manage their symptoms.  Since moving the class to Fix Studio, I am now looking to expand the class to include students with multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological conditions.

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What are the benefits of yoga?

Practising yoga and mindfulness can give people a sense of control over their body and mind.  In Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the uncertainty over how symptoms will change over time can be challenging.  Changing how the body feels through breathing and movement practices can give back a sense of self-efficacy.

Postural instability is a hallmark of PD.  Yoga improves balance through standing poses (as well as the more advanced arm balances and inversions). Balance poses are modified to the individual with support from a wall or a chair as needed.  Practising balance within the safe and supported class environment can help address a fear of falls. Yoga postures help to develop strength, specifically in the lower body, spinal extensors and the core muscles.  This is beneficial for postural stability and functional mobility. 

Those with PD may face difficulty initiating and controlling voluntary movement such as standing up, walking and sitting down.  Yoga involves bringing awareness and attention to movements that automatic in everyday life.  It is thought this form of ‘attention retraining’ may help improve functional movement.  

Studies have shown a regular yoga practice can improve flexibility and range of motion in the shoulders, hips and spine.  This supports people with PD achieving a more upright posture and addressing rigidity. 

Yoga can be beneficial for mood and sleep.  The practice triggers the ‘relaxation response’, increasing vagal tone and enhancing output from the parasympathetic nervous system.  This can alleviate anxiety as well as equipping people to manage stressful situations in everyday life.  Improving mood can also be beneficial for motor symptoms.  Research has shown that mindfulness can also alleviate low mood and help to manage stress.  For those with PD, learning to be present can help with acceptance of a diagnosis as well as living with the daily challenges of the disease. 

Studies have shown that the practice of ‘yoga nidra’ is associated with a short-term increase in dopamine levels (Kjaer TW et al, 2002).  This suggests that it may be beneficial for those with Parkinson’s Disease where dopamine levels are low.

Attendees during one Bryony’s classes. The use of chairs and props, plus careful programming help make the sessions accessible and safe to all levels.

Attendees during one Bryony’s classes. The use of chairs and props, plus careful programming help make the sessions accessible and safe to all levels.

What to expect from the class?

This is a class specifically for those living with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other progressive neurological conditions.  It is accessible for different mobilities - Some students use the floor to practice, but the class can also be practised entirely from a chair.   Through breath work, physical postures and deep relaxation, the class aims to give inner calm and stillness as well as to help manage symptoms and side effects of medications.  It is a safe and supported space to practice yoga and explore what it can do for you.

In the class, you can expect: 

To be treated as an individual.  Recognising that conditions affect each person differently, the yoga practice will be adapted to your needs on that day. 

To feel part of a community.  By attending a class, you can meet other people who share some similar challenges and get support from being part of a group.  During the class, we practice in silence, but there is an opportunity for discussion at the end.

To begin with relaxation.  This may involve a guided body scan meditation, breathing exercises or visualisation.  Relaxing can help reduce motor symptoms and allow you to get more from the physical practice.

To learn physical poses (or asana).  Yoga postures help develop strength, flexibility and balance.  Every pose is modified to the ability of the individual with the use of the wall, chairs and/or blocks for support.

To link movement with the breath.  Simple movements are practised with the breath, moving in and out of postures as you breath.  It can be easier to control movement in flow rather than longer holds.

To practice mindfulness.  Throughout the class, you will be guided on being aware of body sensations and keeping your attention on the present moment.  The practice of yoga encourages acceptance, non-judgement and compassion for yourself.    

To end with guided relaxation or yoga nidra.  Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practice.  This meditative state has been shown to have many benefits for brain function.

Happy Yogis! With class teacher Dr Bryony Hughes.

Happy Yogis! With class teacher Dr Bryony Hughes.

Yoga for MS, Parkinson's Disease and other Neurological Conditions is on Fridays 11am-12pm at Fix Studio, London Fields.  For more information, please do get in touch by email (hughes.bryony@gmail.com),  I am always happy to answer any questions about the class before you attend. 

You can book online here, or check out Bryony’s bio for more details.

MOVE MORE... FIX STUDIO OPENS IN LONDON FIELDS OCTOBER 2018

FIX STUDIO is now open for group classes, workshops, teacher trainings and 1:1 movement sessions.

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Nestled just next to our London Fields clinic, FIX STUDIO will offer a safe and accessible space for the highest quality, clinically informed yoga, Pilates and movement therapies.

We’ve put together some thoroughly tempting opening offers to whet your appetite this Autumn. These will only stick around until the end of the year, so…

  • Any first yoga class £5

  • Unlimited two weeks £25

  • 10-Class Pass £80

  • Drop in (45min/60min/75min/90min) £8/£10/£11/£12

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We’re really excited about bringing you workshops, teacher trainings and courses in the coming weeks and months.

Hope to see you there soon….