Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Pilates Studio brings Grain Free Baking and GYROTONIC® to Mat Chats

Well, the Grain Free Baking Mat Chat was a huge success, and very much like my summary of the “What is a Naturopath?” Mat Chat I wanted to give my take on grain free baking.

First of all, Alecia Umberger knows the information.  She can talk recipes, she can talk ingredients, she can tell you how to grind your own almond flour, and she can do this while mixing and cooking grain free waffles right before your eyes.(See the recipe below).   It was like watching a cooking show right in the middle of The Pilates Studio.  First of all, I should make my disclaimer…I took meticulous notes during this Mat Chat, and I am ready to tell you what I learned, but my experience in any kitchen is lacking enough that I could see myself forgetting something.  Thus, If something I write doesn’t make sense call Alecia!

Here is her information:
Alecia Umberger MSPT
Alternative Cooking Consultant
(413) 695-8436

First of all, Alecia addressed the growing occurrences of wheat intolerances and autoimmune disorders that may be due to wheat intolerances.  Celiac Disease being one that is getting a lot of attention these days but some parents are even finding success with grain free diets and the symptoms on the autism spectrum. 

Alecia also made it a point to say that grain free is more than just gluten free.  In a typical gluten free processed product that you might be able to find at the store, you will find rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and potato flour.  These are all starches that are high on the glycemic index and thus not as great for anyone who is diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Alecia suggests baking with almond flower and coconut flour.  She gave us the following resources.  First the table is a nutritional comparison of non-wheat and non-grain based flours.

Typical Gluten Free Mix (1/2c)
Almond Flour
(1/2 C)
Coconut Flour
Glycemic Index
<50 Low
<50 low
Vitamin E

   Quite frankly I was stunned by the multitude of nutrients in the second two columns…I’ve always heard that almonds were one of the “super foods” but wow! I mean wow!

Alecia also gave us the following resources for finding recipes and sources of flour

Almond Flour resources:
Trader Joes (Almond Meal)

Coconut Flour resources:
Whole Foods

Baking websites for recipes:

Alright and she also left us with the Great Grain-less Waffles (THEY WERE YUMMY)

3 cups Almond Flour
½ cup Almond meal
½ c ground flax seed
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ cups coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
½-13/4 cup almond milk

Place the first five ingredients in medium mixing bowl.  In a separate medium bowl beat the eggs and add the oil, vanilla extract and 1 ½ cups of the almond milk.  Reserve the remaining almond milk in case the batter is too thick.  Stir well.  Wait a full five minutes to let the almond flour absorb the liquid.  After five minutes the batter should form thick ribbons when a spoonful of batter is lifted above the bowl.  Cook on a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s directions.  It is better to err on the side of cooking slightly more. 

What fun we had, and I’m serious the waffles were really good!

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, R.S.M.E
Co-Director The Pilates Studio

DON’T MISS:  October 4 MAT CHAT 7pm at The Pilates Studio

Next week’s mat chat is GYROKINESIS and GYROTONIC with myself and Maud Geng.  You might know a bit about me, but here is a quick bio for Maud

Maud Geng, Fascinated by the two interrelated aspects of exercise and life-style, Maud has studied Yoga, Pilates and Qi Gong for over twenty years. As she continued to refine her understanding of overall health, Maud discovered the principals and positive effects of Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis training.

Gyrokinesis practice is a restorative system of flowing movement and breath work that awakens the spine and nervous system while promoting core strength.

Completing her pre-training in the US, Maud was accepted into the Level One Foundation Course in 07` with Juliu Horvath in Austria, achieving a Certificate of Apprenticeship.

The following year she completed the certification requirements for Gyrokinesis Level One Training, again with Juliu Horvath in Austria, to become a Certified Gyrokinesis Level One Trainer.

In June of 09` Maud completed her Gyrotonic Foundation with Authorized Master Trainer, Angela Crowley, in Denver and in October of that same year completed a three day workshop in Gyrokinesis Level Two, with Authorized Master Trainer, Erika Hassan, in Manhattan.

Maud found herself in Manhattan once again in 2010 for her re-certification in Gyrokinesis with Master Trainer, Michelle Spinner.

Maud provides classes designed for one-on-one training, or for small groups. Her training allows her to assess a persons needs and to develop a program designed to enhance an individual`s experience.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gotta have Balance with my Hip Power Part I: Posterior tilted Pelvis

In last week’s blog post the Gluteus Medius was the star!  There were videos of some generalized workouts that would strengthen the hips and increase pelvic stability.  Now, as promised the next few blog posts are going to address how a person might use those exercises prescriptively to create change in pelvic imbalances.
As I was thinking about these posts, I started thinking about all of the pelvises I’ve seen over the years and a question came to mind:  If strength in the Gluteus Medius is so very important, then why is it so very weak in so many people?  There are many muscular imbalances that might position the pelvis in such a way that makes the Gluteus Medius inaccessible.   So far I have thought of four general possibilities…I say general because, well I’ve seen enough bodies to know that the possibilities are infinite and trying to fit people into the generalized boxes discounts the complexity of the human pelvis…Thus as I describe these generalizations realize that this is the starting point…As one begins to learn about his/her pelvis the journey is infinite and forever, as well as fun and rewarding!
Possibility I
The Posterior Tilted Pelvis:  In the posterior tilted pelvis the tail is tucked underneath the spine.  This causes the top of the pelvis to tilt back and the bottom of the pelvis to tilt forward.  The result of this postural pattern means that the all of the gluteus muscles along with the hamstrings are working all of the time to hold the pelvis in this position.  It also pushes the femur bones forward in the hip socket.  These muscles are holding tension and muscular tension makes muscles unavailable for use in action.  I took a workshop from Tom McCook this past weekend and he said quite profoundly, “Tension isn’t strength, it is unused potential.”  If we think of all Gluteus muscles with this idea we can determine that the Gluteus Medius in a posterior tilted pelvis can’t abduct, extend or rotate the leg because the femur heads are pushing forward and all of the muscles are holding the tailbone hostage.
If I were working with a pilates client with a posteriorly tilted pelvis, and Glute med. strength was a goal the first step would be to free the tailbone by releasing the gluteus muscles and hamstrings along with awakening the Pelvic Floor. Of course, the general rules put forth on the internet do not compare to the insight one gains when problem solving with a client, but having the following movement map in mind is a place to start.  Whether the client and I get to the end of the trail depends on what we discover within the map.
1.     Hamstring release series - I wrote about this series in a previous post.  Anecdotally, I have found that this series can relieve pain caused by this pattern so that movement in the pelvis is possible.  It also can aid in “unlocking” the pelvis so that the femur bones can sink into the socket and a client can access the core. 
Exercises 2-5 are demonstrated by Laurie Johnson in this video

2.     Pelvic Rock – Once the hamstrings have been addressed then I would use the Pelvic Rock to reinforce movement in the pelvis.  Asking the Tailbone to come out of the cage as it were.  In the video Laurie is suspending her pelvis on soft balls.  This allows extra freedom in the movement of the pelvis.
3.     Pelvic Rock and abdominal engagement on Soft Ball – Often when the pelvis is stuck in a posterior pelvic tilt, the pelvis is being “stabilized” or held without movement by all of the muscles that are reserved for propelling the pelvis in space.  Thus once these muscles are released then it is important to find the deeper core muscles to stabilize the pelvis. This frees the other muscles of the pelvis to propel the body through space.  In the video Laurie demonstrates the thigh lift (Thank you Irmgard Bartenieff)
4.      Side-Lying Pelvic Clock – When finding pelvic alignment it is important to find the alignment in multiple planes of movement.  The Pelvic Rock works on the pelvic placement in the sagittal plane.  The side-lying Pelvic Rock works in the vertical/coronal plane and the horizontal/transverse plane
5.     Side-Lying Bend and Stretch – Now that the pelvis is placed differently it is important to find support throughout the entire fascial line.
6.     Hip Series – If the pelvis is tilted posteriorly the previous prep work will allow the pelvis to be placed efficiently so that movement can happen.  Now try the videos from the previous post.  Do they feel different?  How so? Feel free to send us an email to let us know.
The image above shows the difference between a neutral pelvis, a posteriorly tilted pelvis and an anteriorly tilted pelvis.  I like this picture because it shows us where we've been as well as where we will be going. Consider it a preview for next week, when we unveil exercises that would prepare an anterior tilted pelvis for a hip power series.

Katrina Hawley C.M.A, R.S.M.E
Co-Director of The Pilates Studio

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gotta Get Me Some Hip Power at The Pilates Studio

Power in the hips is in the Gluteus Medius!!!!

 In my practice, I have found a magic trick…It’s not really a magic trick, but it addresses a common place of weakness that can often assist in pain relief.  It is strengthening the gluteus medius and creating a myofascial relationship between the upper and lower body through the side of the hips.  We often think of core strength and creating balance between the front and the back of the body, but what about balance from one side of the body to the other?  OR Tom Myers would say, what about balance between the outside of the body and the deep inside of the body?

The Glute Medius is one of many muscles on the side of the hips.  The two videos in this post share two series of exercises that strengthen the glute medius and its myofascial connections, which can aid in the stability of the sacroiliac joint and the alignment of the knee joint.  The first video is a straightforward series without the use of small pilates apparatus.  Some of the exercises are performed in the easiest position for side-lying exercises and some of them are done in a more advanced position.  

Here are a few tips to think about when watching the video
  • Axial elongation is part of core control (Thanks Polestar Pilates) When you are engaging your belly muscles you are also striving to lengthen your body.  The magnet image spoken of in previous posts can certainly apply to this one too!
  •     When you are lying on your side the bottom of your body is as important as the top!  On your side the bottom of your waist is activated.  Every year when my 8am college class is side-lying, I say, "We are not napping here!  Our entire body is active!" (Don't worry I say it nicely.)
  •      The hips do get tired during this series.  If you feel like they are so tired that your body is trying to recruit other muscles then its time to take a break.    You may feel a burn!  You may feel a lot of burn, but if you feel like the burn is causing you to lose stability in the hip: Hit the pause button!
  •      In the second video I threw in the magic circle for fun.  If you don’t have one you can get plenty of benefit from the work without the circle. 

I accidentally gave the computer camera a dirty look when recording the video oops!!!!  Technology brings out and captures interesting emotions. :)

Let us know what you think!  Getting strength in these side-lying myofascial connections will prevent many injuries and relieve pain.  keep an eye out for our next post that will explain how to use these exercises prescriptively for rehabilitative purposes.

Katrina Hawley, C.M.A,   

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our very own Naturopath, Dr. Allison Willette speaks at The Pilates Studio

Our first Mat Chat was a great success!!!  The community at The Pilates Studio only gets better as we strive to learn new information and to think outside of the box or the bucket as Dr. Willette would say. This Mat Chat was a wonderful introduction to Dr. Willette's practice which she will be building at the Pilates Studio.  For those that missed it the energy and questions around the Mat Chat have been filling the pilates sessions at the studio.   How was the Mat Chat?  What did she say?  What does she think about soy milk?  There have been so many questions that we are developing an Ask Allison section of our newsletter.  Simply email your questions to the studio, and we will pass the questions on to Dr. Allison Willette! 

In case you didn’t make it to the chat, I wanted to post as much as I could remember…The information was so plentiful!  It was fabulous to learn about another model with which to learn about the body.  Dr. Willette even extended a little challenge for all of us…Don’t worry you won’t be left out I’ll outline the challenge below and so that everyone can participate!

The first note I took was a quote.  Dr. Willette was speaking about her background in nursing and then she spoke of her desire for something else.  She said, “I just thought there has got to be something between medication and surgery.”  I love this quote.  It speaks about wellness, about preventative non-invasive care that we are so fond of here at The Pilates Studio!

She went on to explain a metaphor to us.  The bucket metaphor:  The bucket metaphor speaks to the body’s intake of stresses (whether they are bacterial, viral, emotional, or physical), and when the bucket is full it overflows into illness.  Thus we have to make sure our body’s bucket has healthy release of these stresses through the emunctory organs (kidneys, liver, lungs, colon, and skin) Thus to prevent the bucket from overflowing, we need to make sure our body’s pathways of release are clear. 

First the kidneys – hydrate! hydrate! hydrate!  The kidneys remove toxins from the body, and it is much easier for them to do this if we are hydrated.  Of course I’m typing this as I drink my coffee, but moderation is everything right?  Well the rule of thumb is drink half your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weight 160 pounds you would drink 80 ounces of water.  The kicker is that if you drink a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (both diuretics) then you would also need to replace that in water. 

Next the Lungs – Lungs move the air, they aid in circulation, which is the body’s way of cleaning the cells.  The breath is an indicator of emotional and physical stress.   Dr. Willette gave us a tip on those days when you just need to calm down.  Inhale for six counts and exhale for seven counts.  If you’ve taken class with me you may have heard the term stuck on the inhale, and this little tip is a great way to get all of the air out!!!

Now the Skin – Dr. Willette said, “The skin is the first to complain and the last to heal.”  Cleanliness is important but so is exfoliating.  The skin is constantly clearing itself of toxins and the more you exfoliate the faster they are cleared.

COLON – Need I say more?  We all know the colon is eliminating and that regular movement is necessary but Dr. Willette added something that was new information to me.  I knew that the small intestine was absorbing nutrients from the food, but the colon is also absorbing…But if you think of what is in the colon, you will want regular movement to prevent too much absorption…Now there’s something to think about!

Liver – We often hear of the liver when speaking about Alcohol but we also need to consider other toxins that the liver is charged with clearing.  Pesticides on produce is one of the other sources.  I appreciated Dr. Willette’s acknowledgement that organic food is important yet more expensive.   She mentioned which lists the “dirty dozen”  The produce that it is most important to buy organic, as opposed to the produce in which the pesticides are not as worrisome.

Dr. Willette was full of other tips to!

·      Eat Sitting Down
·      Vinegar before meals
·      Veggies at breakfast
·      Eat fermented food: Kefir, kiminchee, kambucha, sauerkraut (if my mom is reading this she will just shake her head in memory of the many times she tried to get me to eat sauerkraut in my childhood…)

Now here is our challenge!  

·      Eat 6 fruits and vegetables a day
·      Drink water – keep track of how much
·      Stop eating bread for two weeks
·      Think of 4 non-food rewards
·      Take a fifteen minute walk outside no matter what the weather – Dr. Willette said “Walk the dog everyday even if you don’t have a dog!”

It’s tricky.  I’m trying it and doing pretty well, and the feedback I’ve heard from others that attended is that everybody has their challenge.  For instance, I drink a lot of water and I love my veggies so those two parts of the challenge do not seem like much of a stretch, yet I do not like to walk in the rain and it rained for three days after the talk so I’m behind on that one.   Then again, today is a lovely day so I am going to consider my health and walk outside, and maybe I’ll look into investing in a raincoat!!!

Remember ASK ALLISON!  Send us your questions!  

And if you want more information about Dr. Willette's practice, please call The Pilates Studio 413-586-3504.