“Expression of Health” – the origins of the name

A number of people have asked me where the name “Expression of Health” came from.

In Craniosacral Therapy one of the key things to look for is where the vitality and energy is within the body, this is referred to as “the expression of health”. It relates on a physical level to where the energy is strongest, this could be shown through a healthy circulation pattern, a deep warmth in the body, grounded calm or a number of other ways. It is where the health is rooted in the system.

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Exploring our physicality & perception

BODYMIND – by Ken Dychtwald

Written in 1977, this is an incredible collection of information working through the body, exploring the mind-body connections from numerous disciplines. He writes in the preface:

“During the six years I spent researching this book, I set out to explore the bodymind from a variety of perspectives. My intention was to blend my own findings and observations with the discoveries of several of the pioneers in this field, such as Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen, William Schultz, Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, Fritz Perls, Stanley Keleman and Hector Prestera, and with several of the yoga disciplines in order to articulate a definite yet simple system of bodymind reading and mapping.”

Body Mind BookThis he certainly does. In fact it was reading this book, which inspired me to study Structural Integration (as he includes some of his own experiences as a student and practitioner).

Separated into chapters for different parts of the body, he methodically explores the connections between physical form & life patterns. How patterns in the feet can relate to stability within life, the balance of right & left & links to personality, tendencies in character & emotion relating into specific tension patterns in the body.

It is an eye-opening book to understand the incredible connections between our physical form and the way we perceive and experience the world.

For those curious, it is easily available on Amazon.

Did you know that cranial bones move?!!

Following on from the work of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still (1828 – 1917) in developing early Osteopathy, Dr. William Sutherland (1873-1954) discovered that there were micro-movements between the cranial bones.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-07-52
Dr. W Sutherland

Contrary to the earlier Victorian beliefs that cranial bones fused in adulthood, he found the cranial bones to be separate and observed the presence of groove marks along the edges where they were in contact with other cranial bones. Within his research, looking at the temporal bone (the cranial bone at the side of the head, underneath the ear), he saw that the contact edge was “beveled like the gills of a fish, indicating respiratory motion for an articular mechanism.”

In essence, there was a sliding motion occurring between the temporal bone and the parietal bone above. The groove marks not only indicated the presence of movement, but also the direction.

He found that by using light touch on another persons head, he could feel these small movements as they occurred.

What he then wanted to know was what would happen if there was compression in the system restricting these movements. It led him to conduct a number of experiments on himself where he bound parts of his head to restrict different directions of movement. What he discovered was that the different compression patterns caused dysfunction in a variety of body systems – one direction affected his digestive system, another his sleep cycles, another his anxiety. In one instance his wife even came into discover him passed out on his office floor. It was at this point she put an end to his self-experiments for putting at risk his own health.

He had found that compression in the cranium not only affects the head but the function of systems within the whole body.

In Craniosacral Therapy it is these cranial movements that are felt through light touch. When compression arises either from injury, patterns from birth or restrictions arising from daily stress, gentle contact can help re-establish the balance of movement and restore function, health & vitality to the whole body.

 

Research
Tettembel, et al. Recording of cranial rhythm impulse. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 1978;78:149.
Frymann V. A study of the rhythmic motions of the living cranium. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 1971;70(9):928-45.
Adams T, Heisey R, Smith M, Briner B. Parietal bone mobility in the anesthetized cat. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 1992;92:599-622.

Fascia

Fascia refers to the connective tissue. It is the fascia that maintains structural organisation (posture) and functional movement patterns (gait) in the body.

FilamentsUsing direct contact similar to a deep-tissue massage, built-up constrictions within the fascia are released opening up new options of movement.

During injury, adhesions form between the tissue layers. Initially part of the body’s mechanism to protect and temporarily strengthen, in the long-term this leads to reduced mobility.

The effective combination of this deep tissue release with guided movement, produces lasting results from the inside out.

Research

Bordoni et al (2014) – Clinical and symptomatological reflections: the fascial system,
J Multidiscip Healthc. 2014; 7: 401–411.

 

The Mind-Body Connection

Martial Arts, Yoga & Meditation

The 10 Series is a deep process of renewal and inner alignment, letting go of old patterns stored within the body whilst enhancing connection & embodiment.

The vertical midline is an important part of us as human beings. Established early in foetal development, it is around this line that we move and its relationship to gravity plays a huge part in our health, stability & well-being. This fundamental body principle is present in numerous body disciplines from Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, The Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais & Psychotherapy.

The 10 sessions follow a sequence of release common to all human beings, working up from the feet to unfold the body’s natural alignment. Interestingly there are parallel cycles in unlocking creativity such as Julia Cameron’s “The Artists Way”.

With the body-mind connection, finding awareness of the mid-line & body centre (hara) brings a deepening of practice, catalyst for change & connection to the ground.

 

The Power of Posture

Two weeks ago I went to hear Amy Cuddy speak on presence and the impact of “power postures” at The London Business Forum.

amy-cuddyIf you’ve not yet come across Amy’s work, there is a brilliant Ted talk that provides a good introduction. In essence, she has found that taking on a powerful physical pose (such as “wonderwoman”) there is a bio-feedback mechanism making a person more confident, adaptable and present to deal with life scenarios.

Taking on a dominant posture for 2 minutes increases the levels of testosterone and decreases cortisol, making you a better leader & more adept to dealing with stress. This shows the rapid response which exists between the mind and the body.

She has found certain power postures to be highly effective. These are all open postures with good stability through the feet and body as a whole.

angela-merkelDuring the talk she made a reference to the importance of hand positions, within power postures, identifying that bringing your hands together, spreading your fingers to create an arch in the palms, as is often seen with Angela Merkel, can increase the energy and power of the individual.

This is also found with Cambodian dancers – there is a even a special dance of power where performers arch their feet and hands like that of tree roots.

This principle of arching the hand to increase energy up the arm is present in a number of disciplines. From studying Scaravellian yoga with Angela Farmer, there is an opening in the shoulders and upper torso that occurs by spreading the fingers apart in downward dog. A natural arch in the palm opens up an energy line up the arm (& arm pit) and a broader strength through the shoulders and upper torso.

As an aerial dancer, in acrobatics the same techniques are used in creating advanced stability for handstands. Making sure the hands are shoulder width apart, weight is directed through the “ball” of the hand with the fingers spread.

Looking at anatomy, the hands and feet are analogous (from our days as a quadripeds) with the ability of bringing a natural arch into the structure through spreading the fingers or the toes.

You can use these principles to gently strengthen your shoulders & upper back.


Explore a gentle downward dog (like nothing before!)

  • With feet hip-width apart, bend over and bring your hands to be in contact with the floor (you may need to bend your knees for this, which is fine).
  • Whilst bringing no weight through your hands, explore how it feels to make contact with the different parts of your hand. It can feel very new, making contact with the ball of your hand (the area beneath your knuckles).
  • Keeping gentle contact from this area with the floor, imagine there is space for a small mouse to hide underneath the arch of your palm. This naturally lifts the base of your palm and wrist away from the floor. (When we bring weight down through the base of the palm we cut off energy and strength coming up through the arm.)
  • As you spread your fingers, you may feel muscles in your lower arm and shoulders activate. Gently explore bringing weight through this contact point, keep this process gradual as it can take time for your body to adapt and strengthen. For some the image of roots helps support this exploration.

The Back-Line

Here’s a little trick to discover how inter-connected our bodies can really be and how a restriction in your foot can lead all the way up to neck pain and vice versa.

Our muscles are not just individual but are interconnected with one another to form functional planes of movement. Below is a beautiful picture from Tom Myers’ “Anatomy Trains” which illustrates “the back line”. This is a continuous plane running from the bottom of the feet, up the back of the body & curling over to the forehead.

Yoga forward bend

This back line is stretched out when we bend to touch our toes.

A great little trick if you have 5 minutes and a tennis ball is:

– Bend forward to touch your toes
– See how far you can go
– Roll the bottom of each foot on a tennis ball (2-3mins)
– Bend a second time and check out the difference!

By releasing the plantar fascia on the bottom of the feet, there is an elongation along the whole tissue layer. You may even feel taller with more length coming up the back.