Monday, December 2, 2013

Finding Balance During the Holidays at The Pilates Studio


It’s official the holidays are upon us.  We are all striving to find the balance between family and friends, work and parties, vegetables and cookies.  And for some reason the holiday season makes this age old grasp for equilibrium a little bit more challenging.  At the Pilates Studio, we want to stand up to the face of unsteadiness in the world with movement.  We wonder at the possibility of creating balance in our bodies, and allowing that balance to bleed into our lives outside of The Pilates Studio.  We wonder if a woman who has 25 gifts left to buy, might find it less stressful if she can also stand on one foot with her eyes closed for longer than two minutes.  Might she benefit from the awareness of breath and wobbles that is required to stand on one foot when she is in the check out line?  What about the person that has to figure out how to attend two holiday parties, while at the same time be present to see holiday pageants and band concerts, all of which happen to be scheduled with in the same two hours on a Thursday night?  Might this person reap the benefits of lying on the foam roller with three limbs in the air allowing one foot to root down to the earth?  Not to mention the fact that it is about to be winter in New England, and each and everyone one of us need the practical skills that are necessary to navigate the inevitable snow and ice that will soon be upon us…

Is it too far fetched to think that improving proprioception in our bodies will reduce stress in our very busy holiday lives…Maybe…It would be nearly impossible to design an evidence based study that definitively proves that improved balance makes the check out lines less annoying, but luckily proof is not necessary for the word TRY…At least not at The Pilates Studio.   Each week this month, I will write about a few exercises that might give you the wobbles.  Each week the exercises will become more challenging.  I always say to people if you are doing an exercise that is intended to improve your balance and you are not wobbling, then you are no longer improving your balance…So for this week try the following four exercises, every morning and night.  See what happens, and if you feel so inclined, report back!

First find a standing position.  Stand with your feet together, and by that I mean your big toes, big toe knuckles, and heels should be touching.  Once you find this position close your eyes.  Yes that’s right close your eyes and continue to breathe   Allow your body to negotiate the narrowed base of support and become aware of which muscles keep you from falling over…If you feel really unstable be sure to try this exercise next to a wall.

Next use a foam roller and lay on your back on the roller.  Allow one knee to float into the air…Are you wobbling?  If yes, then simply breathe here and allow your body to negotiate the wobbles…If not, then allow the opposite arm to float into the air so that it is above your shoulder with your fingertips pointing to the ceiling.   Wobbling yet?  If not then allow the other arm to float to the ceiling, and if there are still no wobbles then allow your arms to move back and forth between the ground behind you and the space towards the ceiling.  Continue to move, remember improving balance means finding the wobbles and then negotiating your balance!


Now for this week’s third balance exercise lay on your side.  Find the alignment between your hips, ribs and head, and then extend your hands and arms towards one wall and your legs and feet towards the opposite wall.  How long can you maintain this position without rocking back and forth?  

Finally, it’s time to stand on one leg with your eyes closed…This exercise is almost guaranteed to bring on the wobbles.  Start standing with your feet next to each other.  (Very similar to the first exercise) then simply shift your weight to one side and allow the opposite leg to float into the air.   And then (you guessed it) close your eyes. How long do you last before you have to put the foot down?  


There you have it…December is the month of finding balance at The Pilates Studio.  Be sure to practice these four exercises this week, because next week, the balance challenge will surely progress, and soon the entire community at The Pilates Studio will be ready for the holidays and the impending winter.  The ice and snow will be no match for our calm bodies.  We will be able to enjoy the festivities of the season with the fearlessness of a perfectly balanced body.

Happy Holidays
Katrina Hawley C.M.A, PMA® - CPT
Director of Instruction at The Pilates Studio

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