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How You Exercise Impacts Your Mental Health—3 Surprising Findings From a Movement Therapist

Physical activity is good for you, there’s no arguing with that. But we want you to pay more attention to your relationship between movement and mental health. That’s because it’s not just a matter of if, but how, you’re moving that determines whether the connection is positive or negative.

Most of our communication is nonverbal and yet, when it comes to mental health, we rely on the 10 percent of our communication that is verbal to uncover, release, and rewire these huge mental and emotional issues. Pilates therapy and small group training is about using movement to tap into our body’s needs and get at the root cause of why we’re feeling what we’re feeling.

Here’s how movement—whether as part of exercise or daily life—plays a role in our overall mental and emotional health.

Taking a “bottoms up” approach to our mental health can build better thought patterns and behaviors

To truly comprehend how the way we move impacts our mental health, we have to understand just how deep the mind-body connection runs. This acknowledgement is often lacking in traditional mental health interventions that focus just on talk therapy, affirmations, or changing thought patterns.

While sometimes those mind-focused strategies can work well on their own, we content that this is taking a “top-down” approach, instead of the body-first, “bottom-up” approach that we have found (as well as thousands of clients over 20 + years of business more helpful. When our nervous system is stuck in a stress response, we can’t reason our way out of it—we have to feel our way. To really change our thoughts, we have to look at how our bodies contribute to and support those thoughts, because, believe it or not, that’s actually where they originate. It’s sensations, it’s experiences; taking in information through the body creates those thought patterns and habits.

The first step in this “bottom-up” approach is noticing how your body is responding when you feel a certain way: “Am I tense? Am I rigid? How much space am I taking up? What’s the rhythm of how I’m moving through the day? If we can start to notice that and then start to challenge it, or expand the way we’re moving in that moment, we can circumvent the mind patterns.

Exercise without self-awareness can negatively impact your mental health

This deep mind-body connection doesn’t turn off when you’re in workout mode—in fact, when we move more, we feel more—and that’s not always a positive thing. Take running, for instance. If I’m on the go, go, go, and I have a hard time slowing down, sprinting is not actually going to help me change that pattern. It’s just going to perpetuate the go, go go (some runners have, upon reflection, realized they were running away from something). The idea is not to give up the exercise you love but to approach it with more intention, and to implement other spectrums of movement—which for the “on-the-go” runner may be something slower-paced, like Pilates or yoga.

That’s not to say that how beneficial a form of exercise is to your mental health is correlated to its intensity level alone. Even yoga can lead to anxiety. It’s not the practice, it’s the execution.

How do you know if your current fitness routine is detrimental to your mental health? At Pilates Manitoba and MELT Method Winnipeg, we do a pre- and post-consultation, taking notice of how you feel before and after your workout. While exercise may leave you physically exhausted, she says, it should make you feel emotionally energized and recharged, or like you’ve been able to release something.Come and learn how to incorporate this in your workout life.

Movement can build emotional resilience

Just as changing up your exercise routine can make your body stronger, creating a “robust movement vocabulary” can also build emotional resilience. If you are used to moving all around; if something comes at you, you may not be expecting it, but you will be more able to get back on your feet to handle whatever is coming.

The same logic applies on an emotional level. It’s about trying new movement, or expanding the reach or the range of the movement you currently do, which could mean identifying if you are only using your lower body, or noticing that you’re often moving forward and backward but never twisting or moving side to side. We also suggest “expanding your definition of movement,” by incorporating more playfulness  in everyday life—like dancing while you do chores, or kicking a ball around the park.

We do these movements as kids, and then as we get older, we don’t have time for play when we need it most. We don’t have movement at our disposal, or we’re like ‘I’m not free anymore—I can’t do that.’ So having a robust movement vocabulary is literally building the embodied dictionary we carry with us.

5 Workout “Rules”to stop following right now…and that highlight the efficacy of what Pilates has ALWAYS been (we just wish people would stop beating themselves up and call it “fitness)

Here are the top five, all-too-common workout myths that should have been retired long ago. But, most people and research does not understand Pilates…the ultimate Stability NOT Soreness WHOLE PERSON workout with your own mind-body feedback as the superior marker of success!

We think these five workout “rules” that just don’t hold water. Whether you think that you have to be sore for a workout to “count” or believe that 10 minutes isn’t worth the trouble, get ready for a perspective shift that’s sure to make you feel a little bit more free while doing the movement you love. And if you can’t do the movement you love, do Pilates to make your joints stable and aligned so you can!

1. Only modify exercises if you want to make them easier

People often equate modifications with less intensity; however, choosing a modification may be the most-effective option to maintain proper form and the full range of motion for the body. Taylor Bogenschuetz is director of training and development at Solidcore, a high-intensity, low-impact workout performed on Pilates reformers and says “Every workout should meet you where you are. For example, you may think that modifying a push-up, either by lowering your knees to the floor, or elevating your hands, is less “effective” or “impressive” than completing a full push-up. But the truth is that the modified version will also work your triceps, core, and shoulders. Then, when you gain the necessary strength, you’ll be able to perform a full push-up safely”.

2. You have to use a fitness tracker to get good feedback

If you’re working out to seek the approval of your smart watch, Bogenschuetz says there’s another way. “From the moment you begin a workout to the second you end it, your fitness tracker measures your heart rate and displays an estimate of calories burned. These numbers alone are not a strong indication of the efficacy of your workout,” she says. The superiority of the way you FEEL is key here and MUST include joy and happiness in a measurement of good feedback.

The reality is, the stats on your fitness tracker are good—but they don’t paint a full picture of the mental and physical benefits you reap. The lesson here? Make sure your wearable isn’t the only way you’re measuring your progress. Consider keeping a fitness journal or clocking how you feel before and after a workout, as well and notice the energy and sensorial feedback increases and benefits.

3. You haven’t worked hard enough if you’re not sore

According to Bogenschuetz, many factors play into soreness including how hydrated you are, how much sleep you got the night before, and how well you’re recovering. In other words: It’s far too variable to use as a metric for a successful workout. Luckily, we are big fans of focusing on how your muscles and breath feel throughout the workout and always preach to listen to your body and make that mind-body connection when training. It can become a more efficient way of training, and it’s eye opening when you can truly understand your body and how it moves. We are also big fans of fascial hydration BEFORE the muscular workout, to prep the fascial continuum and flow, and some AFTER to restore the cellular hydration used up.

4. Always opt for long workouts over short

You don’t need to work out for 60 minutes straight to reap the benefits of exercise. If you only have 10 minutes, do that. If you have 10 minutes, five times a day, that is 50 minutes spread throughout. We have time for what we want to have time for, and sometimes you need to prioritize yourself. Short-and-sweet workouts are also a great way to manage stress, improve your overall health and build health habits.

So whether you have two minutes or a full hour today, make time to stretch, walk around the block, stand up and stretch and breathe, or move in another way that feels good to you.

5. Consistency counts, so don’t take rest days

“‘No days off’ is another ‘motto’ that could be more harmful in the long run. Your body needs rest in order to function properly and to its full potential. Exercise is stress on your body, and if you are constantly putting your body through stress, there will be a point where it could lead to overuse and injury.  

Instead of pushing yourself to exercise every day, listen to your body: If you feel tired, try active recovery like soft foam rolling or fascial flossing with the MELT Method or the Pilates “bubble-gum” balls or stretching. Or, opt to skip movement altogether with a smile in your eyes and heart…no inside voice saying mean things!

Pilates & ADHD

Read more about Pilates therapy and feel-good treatments for ADHD

We offer private lessons for children, teens, and adults with ADHD as well as small group classes for schools and learning centres.

MANITOBA SHOE BOX PROJECT 2022 Holiday Drive

This holiday season, fill a standard-sized, decorated Shoebox with approximately $50 worth of gifts and essentials that any woman might enjoy, and include a warm greeting or message of support. Our volunteers distribute these gifts to local women’s shelters and community agencies serving women impacted by homelessness across Canada. Whether you donate a Shoebox virtually or in-person, it is more than just a gift. It is a rare and powerful reminder that we all matter.

We are so happy to be drop-off location for the Shoe Box Project that is re-starting Nov 21 – Dec 12, 2022.

You can bring them to class with you or text 204.999.9984 to arrange big drop-offs with me.

New Classes November 2022

BEGINNER REFORMER PILATES
Mon 11:45 am – 12:45 pm
Thurs 7:30 – 8:30 pm

BEGINNER Pre-Hab Before Rehab (Adaptive & Integrative Fascial and Joint exercises)

Mon 8-9 pm

Health guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Which activities you choose don’t matter as long as they get you moving.

But what if an injury, illness, health condition, disability, or even normal aging makes being active hard for you? In those cases, adaptive Pilates could lend a much-needed hand.

Adaptive Pilates is for  people with disabilities or physical limitations. They often run parallel to traditional exercises but are modified to support people’s specific physical abilities.

MELT Mornings (Fascial Foam Rolling with Integrative Joint Stability exercises)

Tues & Thurs 7:45-8:45 am

ELDOA

Thurs 6:30 pm

Performing ELDOA Fitness movements will help increase your flexibility, improve muscle performance and tone, reduce stress, reduce joint inflammation, delay disc degeneration, improve posture, relieve chronic and acute back pain, relieve neck and shoulder tension, and improve the longevity of the spine and your overall wellbeing.

ELDOA’s active use of reinforcement exercise movements, myofascial stretches and posture techniques which aim to increase the space between joints and lengthening the spine.

MELT Mornings with Mindfulness and Meditation

Learn FAST and EASY WAYS to release fascia and accelerate healing! The health of every cell in your body depends upon its ability to receive nutrients and eliminate waste through the connective tissue fluid surrounding them. Discover how fascial release can enhance energy, boost mood, eliminate pain, and unravel deeply held tensions, fear and repressed emotions held in the body. You will also learn and keep joint stability and regulation.
Classes on ZOOM Wed and Fri morns 30 min $10 per classFridays on ZOOM 60 min $15 per class
MELT MORNINGS Tues and Thurs morns 7:45-8:45 am at the Corydon Studio. Great for beginners to use the props. 10 class BEGINNER LEVEL Program Nov 15-Dec 15 $180(need to add tax to all)

#meltmethod #fascia #selfmyofascialrelease #SMFR #jointstability #jointregulation #autonomicnervoussystem #selftherapy #beyourownbestfriend

So much more than just Foam Rolling

LUNGtivity Program

LUNGtivity ™  is a low intensity community exercise program for individuals living with lung disease. Fitness Leaders are specially trained to work with those living with lung conditions. It is offered both in person and virtually.

The goals of the LUNGtivity ™ program are to:

· Reduce feelings of breathlessness during daily activities

· Remain independent for as long as possible

· Be active in a safe and accessible environment

· Be supported in lung disease self-management

LUNGtivity ™  is a continuation of the exercise portion of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program offered in Manitoba. Before starting this exercise program, you are not required to complete a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program.

This is the exercise program for you if you can:

· Safely attend a community exercise class

· Walk and transfer to a chair on your own or with a gait aide

(cane/walker, etc.)

· Administer/change and manage your own oxygen (if you require oxygen)

· Have an emergency contact available during your exercise class for safety

To participate in this program:

You will be asked to fill out some screening questionnaires and consent to participate in an exercise program· to ensure your safety

You will be asked to provide phone numbers for two emergency contacts who are available during your exercise class in case you feel unwell

Participants may be asked to speak to their health care provider before beginning this exercise program.

Our Fall Session is full for our 7 week Winter Session Wednesdays Jan 11- Feb 22 11:45 am -12:45 pm

is open for registration. As well, we are the only location offering this where you do not need to get up and down off the floor to do your stretches or exercises. We have specialised raised mats for you to lie on.

·

FELDENKRAIS classes with Colin Mehmel

What a treat! Hurry…limited time offer!

Thursdays 5:15 and 6:30 Oct 27 and Nov 3

The Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education uses gentle movement and directed attention to help your ease, range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. Since how you move is how you move through life, these improvements will often enhance your thinking, emotional regulation, and problem-solving capabilities.

The Feldenkrais Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics, and an empirical understanding of learning and human development. Moshe Feldenkrais said, “We move according to our perceived self-image.” By expanding your perception and increasing awareness, you will become more aware of your habits and tensions and develop new ways of moving. By increasing sensitivity, the Feldenkrais Method assists you to live your life more fully, efficiently, and comfortably.

The medical world begins to acknowledge fascia

When we think of research on pain and how it manifests within the physiology of the human body, myofascial tissues have been a persistently understudied part of the picture.

The following is from Dr. Helene Langevin, M.D., Directorof the National Centre for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in the U.S. ” Myofascial tissues are potentially involved in nearly all common chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions, like chronic low-back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headache, and temporomandibular disorders. But our understanding of myofascial pain is severely hampered by a basic lack of tools to differentiate between normal and abnormal myofascial tissues. “

While this is a promising advancement in the relationship of chemical and surgery medicine with mind-body medicine, the medical world needs help with the language and basic understanding about fascia and connective tissues. Thousands of practitioners and their clients around the world have known about (and for thousands of years) taught about fascia before a research lab or test-tube told us anything. Fascia is a continuum, a system, it houses your sensorial nerve endings, it is the organ of being and gives you sentience. It is fluid, and hence, will change with pressure and tension and movement so there is nothing “abnormal” about it. This kind of cartesian dualism thinking is not going to work when understanding fascia. It is my hope that the NCCIH includes fascial researchers like Dr. Robert Schleip, John Sharkey, and Sue Hitzmann, integral anatomists like Gil Hedley, and Pilates, ELDOA, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, some yoga, and MELT Method teachers and their clients as well.