Our relationship to pain

“Ouch that hurt!”

When sitting in the dentist’s chair earlier this week getting my braces adjusted, the twisting and tightening of the wire sent a wave of pain/intense sensation up from the top incisor teeth through the maxilla and front of the face.

In that moment of having pain “done to you”, I found actively pushing into the pressure counter-intuitively reduced the pain.

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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. 

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.


Upward Gravity

So often we are aware when we stand of a downward force, the weight of our body going down into the earth. But beneath this downward force, there is another contact force coming up.

A moment of exploration

Structural blocksIf you are curious on this take a moment, it maybe sitting on a chair or standing, to focus on the weight going down and the area of contact.

You may feel a sensation of weight down, but what if at that same contact point, the earth is pushing up? Keep breathing (you may feel yourself sink slightly).

Keep focusing on that sensation and rocking gently from side to side see if that upward force begins flows up through your body.You may be drawn to notice certain areas, it might flow easier through one side than the others.

This little mind exploration can be done anywhere (sitting, standing, lying down or downward dog) and is a great tool for allowing the body to naturally re-charge.