How Pilates helped me Post Hysterectomy

Three weeks post surgery, I’m feeling pretty good. So how specifically is Pilates serving me well.

Awareness

Pilates has gifted me awareness of my body. The importance of the large ‘moving’ muscle groups, and equally smaller ‘stabilising’ muscle groups. This awareness has enabled me to see the extreme sensitivity of my muscles during my recovery period as knowledge. To notice the micro movements in the body, such as the movement in my inner abs when I type. Who would have known?! Three weeks out from surgery I can’t notice this, but one week out I definitely could. Wow, what a gift to experience that extra degree of sensitivity and awareness. Pilates has given me an awesome body.

Isolation

The ability to know my body as a system and as individual parts. Pilates has taught me to use my body as a system. It’s also given me the conscious ability to isolate different muscle groups to work alone within this system to maximum effect. This has helped me to consciously turn on and off muscles during recovery so I can move safely and independently. Very cool. Which moves me nicely on to strength…

Strength

because pilates has taught my muscles to work in isolation as well as part of a system, each muscle is strong in it’s own right. While we typically work the system in Pilates, we ensure that system is working in a way that maximises each muscle’s individual strength and flexibility. Through this we’ve added to the strength, flexibility and support of teh system. This has meant that when I haven’t had fully operational abdominals, I’ve been able to consciously turn off those muscles that need to repair and turn on other muscles to do the work, which they have the ability to do by themselves in a stable and safely supported way.

Balance

All those weird exercises we do that put us off balance have enabled me to completely take this one for granted. And it’s been pricelessly useful. When walking upstairs, especially in the first few days when lifting my leg was like a turtle in slow motion, I could easily stand on one leg for ages. The hospital physio was amazed how stable I was on one leg without holding on to anything – until I told her I do pilates. I can stand on one leg and dry my feet, or put on my trousers. This has been a huuuuuge help.

So often we forget how much pilates is doing for us until we stop doing it. In this case though, I am so thankful for all the benefits of it for pre-op preparation and post-op recovery. So keep it up! We never know when the benefits of our pilates will be a strong foundation for the things that life throws at us.

Mindfulness vs Emotional Intelligence

Modern Science meets Ancient Wisdom or something more??

  (When doing some research for this blog around “mindfulness” I came across “Mindfulness in May”! What a wonderful concept. Too late too little however for me for this year but it is definitely on my radar for next year. However – more on that another time.)

 

When I think of Mindfulness I immediately link it to spirituality/meditation and Yoga. Whilst I practice and teach yoga – meditation is something that is very new and somewhat foreign for me. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and (despite my yoga affiliations) I don’t necessarily see myself as a spiritual person. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there in the same boat. I spend part of my life in a Yoga World and often see myself as the “Misfit” given my lack of meditation and spiritual connection!! I wonder if it really matters and surely practising (and in my case teaching) yoga in any way shape or form is of benefit! I find myself joking that running is my meditation. If I need to clear my mind and get some clarity of thought I go for a run!! Is that in itself practicing mindfulness??  

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness in Today’s Society
So what is mindfulness and how does it fit in today’s society.?? Over recent years the term mindfulness has become common in mainstream society. It has inspired programs such as Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme (MBSR), which has been interpreted and copied many times since. Research is continuing to document the mental and physical benefits of practicing mindfulness. The Greater Good Science Centre, University of California, Berkley

What is Mindfulness??
Mindfulness: “Mindfulness is a form of active mental awareness rooted in Buddhist tradioions; it is achieved by paying total attention to the present moment with a non-judgemental awareness of inner and outer experiences” – PsychologyToday.com.   OK so this is where my impression that mindfulness is a spiritual practice comes from. “Mindfulness is a lifetime engagement – not to get somewhere else, but to be where and as we actually are in this very moment, whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral” John Kabat-Zinn,  

Why Practice Mindfulness?
There are many documented reasons for practicing Mindfulness. I liked this list taken from The Greater Good Science Centre, University of California, Berkley:  
  • Mindfulness increases positive emotions while decreasing negative emotions and stress
  • Mindfulness changes our brains – research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion and empathy.
  • It helps us focus. It improves memory and attention skills
  • It enhances relationships and fosters compassion, enabling us to be more understanding of the emotions of others
 

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition

What about Emotional Intelligence (EI)
But what about this more modern concept of Emotional Intelligence?? Being a business owner I spend another part of my life in the business world and this term emotional intelligence gets tossed around with similar terms such as transformational leadership and disuse atrophy. Wikipedia describes Emotional Intelligence as a way to“Use emotional information to guide thinking and Behaviour” This is a more complex definition: “The set of abilities (verbal and non-verbal) that enable a person to generate, recognise, express, understand and evaluate their own and others emotions in order to guide thinking and actions that successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures” Van Rooy From the studies I have read regarding EI, it has been proven that people with higher EI have greater mental health, exemplary job performance and more potent leadership skills. EI is being used as a predictor of leadership, academic performance, job performance, trust work family conflict and stress (Ashkanasy and Daus 2002)

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The Link to Leadership
Let me introduce another term: “Transformational Leaders” These are people in the work force who act as mentors to their followers by encouraging learning, achievement, and individual development. They provide meaning, act as role models, provide challenges, evoke emotions and foster a climate of trust – empowering their followers!!   Harms, P.D., Crede, M. (2010) “Emotional Intelligence and Transformational and Transactional Leadership: A Meta-Analysis. Leadership Institute Faculty Publications. Paper14. One of the predictors of a Transformational Leader is someone who possesses Emotional Intelligence.   Surely in order to have EI – you need to have mindfulness??  

What have I learnt??

Do all of these terms mean the same thing??

Are these modern terms just an ancient practice given a more modern name to give it a more scientific spin and make it a more acceptable and less daunting term in the corporate world?

Does one need to practice yoga and meditate in order to achieve this?? It would appear to me that the ancient practice of Mindfulness is now being transformed in to modern science, and it’s being published in such journals as the Journal of Organizational Behaviour.

There now seems a more mainstream reason for being mindful rather than to find “inner peace” It seems to me that possessing Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence in today’s society is a way of giving people an edge!

Call it mindfulness or call it emotional intelligence it seems that the goal here is to be able to relate to your own emotions as well as what other people are feeling, and use those emotions to to get the best out of ourselves and others! Use and understand emotions to facilitate thought and behaviour and you’ll not only reach a state of mindfulness yourself but also help others to reach their full potential!! There’s a lot to learn here and this is just the beginning….   Now where are my running shoes……

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How to Run Smarter and Avoid Injury

How to Avoid Running Injuries this Winter

By incorporating these simple strategies in to your training, you can reduce the risk of running related injuries!

1. Choose your footwear wisely! Not all shoes are made equal so choose a shoe that is right for you! Seek advice here from a Podiatrist if in doubt

2. Stretch!! (Boring I hear you say!!) Maybe join a group class such as yoga if you find doing your own stretches a chore

3. Shorten your stride!! Latest research contradicts previous ideas that lengthening your stride was best!! Over striding is a common mistake that can lead to decreased efficiency and increased injury risk. If you shorten your stride, you’ll land “softer” with each footfall, incurring lower impact forces. Longer strides increase the force at heel strike, however shorter strides encourage landing on the middle of your foot where we naturally have better shock absorption. A shorter stride will usually lower the impact force, which should reduce injuries,”

4. Strength train. You don’t want to “bulk up” and have bulging muscles. You need just enough core, hip, and lower-leg strength training to keep your pelvis and lower-extremity joints properly positioned. You also don’t want to overload individual muscles and joints. “Healthy running should be as symmetrical and fluid as possible,” says Michael Fredericson, M.D., associate professor of sports medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. “If you don’t have muscle balance, then you lose the symmetry, and that’s when you start having problems.” If you don’t like strength training on your own then try a group class such as Pilates, which targets whole body, functional strength.

5. Listen to your body and know your limits!

Run Smart

Run Smart