MOVE WELL STUDIO


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Move your DNA workshop

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I am super excited to announce that I will be teaching a two day immersion workshop, based on the paradigm shifting book Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, my mentor and teacher.

The book is an extremely rich resource, but as you know information does not equal transformation. Oftentimes, readers and students need the benefit of a teacher seeing how they embody the information – from correctives to bigger movements, such as walking or hanging, which the book is all about.

The only prerequisite for attending is having read the book, which also comes in audio format for you to take on your long walks and road trips.

To sign up for the class, please click here!

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Merry Christmas

I wanted to take some time this Christmas Eve Morning to share about things that deeply moved me today and it’s barely 10 in the morning.

I hope they touch you as well.

HOME

Home is where the heart is. My heart has grown in the last few years, stretching to love deeply in two places – my home with my husband in Southern California and the home I grew up in – Bulgaria.

This morning I woke up and called my family who were already fussing around the holiday table – 9 vegan dishes on the last day of fasting before the Savior arrives. It was lovely to call and have the whole family pass the tablet around – from my little cousins to grandma and grandpa.

Then my husband came home from his morning walk.

“Welcome home” – I said.

ORNAMENTS

This ornament below. There used to be a store in Sofia which sold beautiful hand made ornaments. Made by children’s hands. My friend Daniela gifted me with this one. I cherish it deeply. The nativity, nature, the touch of small fingers, fitting it all in a walnut shell.

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A CHOIR FROM HEAVEN

This piece really got to me. “Sounds like Ave Maria” – Roland said. This choir is actually crickets singing with the sounds slowed down. One of the most beautiful and poetic moments I have ever experienced. Listen with me here.

THE PEACE OF GOD

I woke up to pray and journal. Then I realized today, even before praying and journaling, there was a peace covering me from the top of my head to the toes on my feet. It’s an interesting season between October and December, I always notice that people start to rush and feel oppressed. But with Christmas, that rushing spirit is lifted. And even I, who doesn’t go crazy rushing (worry is my way to rush), enjoyed the coming of this deep peace as soon as I opened my eyes. Read more.

Merry Christmas to all of you! I am thankful for you reading and blessed to work with many of you daily!

 


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Squatty Potty for beginners

I clearly remember the day the squatty potty became a part of our lives. I went to the bathroom, only to see a strange plastic piece in front of the toilet, with a note: “How about that for a sh**ty gift?”

My husband, a man of humor and love for health, had made the purchase for me. I tried to pretend no feedback was expected over the next few days. There isn’t much poop talk in our home – we have good poops and we aren’t obsessing with impoving them. How about sleep? Or productivity? Let’s talk about something that really needs improving.

Enough poop bragging. I was already sold on the squatty potty – I will take up any chance to move more! A couple extra squats per day – I was in. What I found in the next few days was that my time in the toilet became even faster and elimination felt even easier. I also enjoyed the nice workout for my hip joints. As my legs went up I also got an unexpected massage for my belly. See, when you are “squatting” instead of “sitting” to poo, the mechanics of it all look and feel very different. On the inside, muscles and organs are churning in a new, closer to their natural way.

Check out this fast-gone-viral video from Squatty Potty, which beautifully explains the action of the puborectalis muscle – one responsible for the anchoring of your poo pipes (picture here). You squat – you free up the pipes, you sit – you pinch them. Let the unicorn show you below…

Of course, I was excited we owned a squatty potty and that we were eliminating paleo style, so I was eager to share with my clients and friends. Many of them purchased one, only to come back and complain that they were uncomfortable getting in the “feet up” or “squat position”.

See, our bodies are shaped by the way we move, and if you haven’t been squatting multiple times a day, your squatting parts may be rusty. Doing some basic biomechanics observations, I found that most of my squatty potty averse clients were the ones with limited ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to flex the foot) and quite limited hip flexion (the ability to bring the knee to your chest). Add general lack of mobility through the spine, and you have a never-squat-to-poop scenario.

Here’s the pickle. The average person, pressed by urgency, won’t even stop to think about why they can’t get comfortable on the squatty potty. We live in a culture which has conditioned us to think like that. Today, people plan to get higher toilets as they get older, assuming their ability to squat will keep decreasing. We have it all backwards.

Want the truth?

  1. You can restore your ability to move at the ankles and hips in order to take a human poop. Your organ health depends on it. How about that for motivation?
  2. In order to restore your ability to squat, you need to first start mobilizing your ankles, hips and pelvis.
  3. In order for those small corrective exercises to work, you need to do them daily. You know, just like water works for you when you drink it daily.
  4. Exercises won’t work unless you also start to change the positions you habitually find yourself in (sitting in chair, sitting on couch, sitting in car).

 
 
Like anything simple, it takes some diligence and time, but every time you practice you will get a degree closer to your squat to poop natural design.

Here is the program that I put my aspiring squatty potty athletes on:

  1. They learn the calf stretch, kneeling hip flexion, and strap stretch to improve the mobility of the ankles, hips and knees. Then they use the baby squat and roll to stabilize the new positions.
  2. They sit on the floor – try the V sit, the indian style sit, the cross knee sit. That allows them to take time off chairs and couches – improving their hip mobility as they rest.
  3. I teach them to bolster the squatty potty. We find a comfortable height that their body is willing to bend to and start to use props to allow their body to adapt. See – between squatty potty and floor there are many levels that most people are already able to bend to. Little by little they are able to move their feet higher and get deeper hip flexion.

 

THE CORRECTIVES

 

THE FLOOR SITTING POSITIONS

 

BOLSTERING THE SQUATTY POTTY

Hooked yet? Start on your program to become a Squatty Potty athlete today 🙂 And let me know how you do!

To get a full introduction to this life changing tool, check out this video:


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Is your stress preventing you from moving well?

Headaches, stiff necks, achy low backs and whiny knees that cry out loud after a hike are common in my office.

People come to see me after months and years of not being able to return to their favorite activities – training hard at the gym, running or competitive golfing. For some reason, exercise hurts, and the activities they can do seem to be less and less.

When new clients fill out their assessment forms, there are specific questions about their perceived levels of stress and quality of sleep.

How your mind and body experience stress will often determine your ability to move forward with your movement program. Stiffness, tension patterns, holding your breath when you move, often have to do more with how you deal with the challenges of past and present life circumstances and events, than whether you did your stretches in the morning.

Trying to learn new movements and integrate an exercise program on top of stress levels that are not being addressed often leads to frustration and giving up on the very programs that will help you return to full function.

In the past two years, I have been training with the Somatic Experiencing Institute and learning how to integrate strategies for nervous system regulation, which help reduce stress levels and promote resiliency and self-awareness. This has become key in how I develop individual programs for my clients.

Next Friday, I am teaching a small group workshop which will introduce the mains skills and tools you need to start with your own program of stress reduction and nervous system balancing. It’s a playful and fun format, with many practical aspects.

I only have a few spots left, so RSVP today!

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“Ships are safe in the harbor…

…but that’s not what ships are built for.”

I woke up to this quote posted by my mentor and friend Katy on the Aligned and Well Facebook page.

Timely, since I was just coming back from a barefoot walk-run and had spent the last minutes of my return home thinking about a new client from this morning. She had expressed how the new positions and ranges of motion we were exploring through some of the standing correctives in her workout felt very challenging and unnatural.

“I just don’t get it. It feels so different than what I am used to!”

I get it. But when was the last time you changed or reached a novel outcome by doing what you’ve always done? Wasn’t that the definition of insanity – doing what you’ve always done, yet expecting a different result.

Your relationship with your body is shaped by a variety of factors, but one of the forces that has a powerful pull is what you believe time with your body should look like. Your preconceived notion of what a corrective program or exercise should resemble has you prepared for an experience when you walk through my door. You’ve seen videos, attended classes, received personal instruction, sometimes from tens of specialists before you set foot on my floor.

You expect to “work”, “stand up straight”, “strengthen” and “stretch”. There is a comfort to knowing what we will do together and a certain degree of wanting to feel challenged but only within what you expect the challenge to feel like – whether it’s burning muscles, feeling pleasantly tired or learning a new exercise.

When I present you with a challenge outside the zone of what you thought “it” would feel or look like, it feels so novel and unnatural, that you may find yourself rebelling against the sensation, the movement, the position, or even my presence as a teacher. Irritation, discomfort, frustration, regret, doubt and even profound anger can be found living under the tissues exposed by new positions and movements.

As a teacher, I am always honored to meet those sensations and emotions of discomfort at your doorstep and support you as they come through and open new possibilities. When working with pain and dysfunction, we often find that our safe harbor is not safe at all, and we need to steer the ship out into open waters, even if they feel choppy at first.

In my own body, I am often a witness of novelty, experienced as weirdness and discomfort, as I venture to recover forgotten ways to move and be with myself. That only assures me that I am leaving the harbor, and isn’t that what we are made for?

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