Vanda Scaravelli – Awakening the Spine

This is one of the most beautiful books, gently exploring qualities and experiences of the body that can unfold through the practice of yoga.

Vanda Scaravelli studied in her early years with B.K.S. Iyengar and T.V.K Desicachar. She went on to develop a profoundly restorative approach to listening and unwinding the body.

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The Breath of Life Conference 2017

13th – 14th May 2017, London

The international Breath of Life Conference brings together pioneering practitioners and scientists involved in grounding breaking research and the application of body-mind therapeutic approaches. It explores key factors that organise how we function, beyond just the physical form, providing a forum and meeting place for exchanging ideas at the cutting edge of health.

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Labanarium – an online network for movement, theatre & dance

For all dancers, performers and researchers of movement…

An inspiring project was launched on the 6th January 2017 by Juliet Chambers-Coe, creating an online international resource and network centre for the movement community, supported by the Guildford School of Acting (GSA).

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“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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Movement of the Sacrum: Shake your tail feather!

Did you know that our sacrum has natural regular movement in connection with the spine above, separate to the surrounding bowl of the pelvis.

The sacrum and coccyx which are the lowest parts of the spine are not fused to the pelvis, but instead are connected via strong ligaments. Back in the day they were individual vertebrae and formed the basis of our tail.Pelvic girdle

Looking up the evolutionary tree, when walking on all fours, a tail helps stabilise balance and allows for a longer jump. It is easy to see that the spine runs from the top of the neck all the way down to the tip of the tail. Along this line, it runs through the pelvis, with the two big ear-like illiac bones resting in contact with the sacrum (shown in red on the diagram) at the sacro-illiac joints.

Movement of the tail physically connects to the health and stability of the spine above the pelvis (such as in the lumbars and thoracics).

Natural Movement

As we have evolved and become bipedal, life living in the vertical has reduced the need for a tail. The bottom 4 vertebrae have become tiny and form the coccyx, with the 5 vertebrae above fusing to form the sacrum.


The many ways our sacrum moves

Different magnitudes of movement occur at the sacrum.

  1. With physical movement (big movements)
    Physical movement of the hips, tilting them forward, back & side to side moves the sacrum on a mechanical level via the ligaments and muscles.
  2. With breath (medium movements)
    Every inhalation we take, creates a lift and opening along the front of the body, causing each vertebra to move and gently rotate, with the back of the vertebrae (the spinous processes) moving down and sacrum rocking back, with the opposite movement on exhalation.
  3. With the rhythmic cycle of cerebral spinal fluid (tiny movements)
    Even sitting or lying still, there are micro-movements occurring along the spine with the natural cycle of cerebral spinal fluid. The timing of this cycle occurs every 100 seconds and is essential to maintaining the health of the pelvis.

As a movement therapist working in a number of modalities, movement of the sacrum is key to health. It is great to support and keep high mobility in this area, to reduce lower back pain and optimise flexibility and a sense grounding in the pelvis.

Through Structural Integration or practices such as Yoga & Pilates, physical balance around the sacrum can be improved, through stretching & release of the myofascia.

On a subtler level, working with the sacrum through Craniosacral Therapy it is phenomenal to see disturbance in the micro-movements settle, & to resolve & calm delicate cases of nerve impingement and vertebral compression.


If you want to play – Exploring your tail!

The use of visualisation combined with physical stretches or movement, can be an incredible area of exploration & lead to an intuitive deepening of a stretch. Inspired from the yoga practices of Vanda Scaravelli, Angela Farmer & Anita Lewis, next time you are in a forward bend, sitting on the floor – try imagining a tail. See how long it is, what type of tail it is, and as you stretch forward, it may go 45 degrees down into the ground, take it back to the horizontal, or down to the vertical, or side to side and observe the changes in the stretch, your pelvic position and spine above.

Through this play and exploration, you may find directions for your tail that are very easy, and others that are harder to visualise or experience. They can be the doorway to deepening your practice and opening up new layers of movement. 

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.

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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.