Category

Pilates

So What Exactly IS The Fascia?

fascia

fascia

At whatever stage of your Pilates journey you may be at you’ll likely have heard me mention your fascia – especially those of you who attend my Zenga Flow class – or something called ‘Myofascial release’.  Fascia is a word that has been getting increasing mainstream attention recently, yet is still generally misunderstood. So what exactly is our Fascia – and why is it so important?

What is your Fascia?

In essence, your fascia is one big continuous net that surrounds everything in our bodies, including our skeleton, muscles, nervous system and organs. The term is derived from Latin and means ‘band’, or ‘bandage’.

Thomas Myers, author and thought leader in fascial systems describes the fascia as:

‘…the biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 trillion cells – neurons, muscle cells, epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all together in their proper placement.’

Recent research has shed light on just how much fascia matters, from affecting range of motion in joints to the role it can play in injury prevention and healing. Like the musculoskeletal system, the fascial system changes in response to repeated stress and injury, and small changes in the fascia in one area of the body can ripple out and affect the body as a whole.

Why is my Fascia so important?

Grab hold of the collar of your shirt and give it a little tug. Your whole shirt responds, right? Your collar pulls into the back of your neck. The tail of your shirt inches up the small of your back. Your sleeves move up your forearms. Then it falls back into place. That’s a bit like fascia. It fits like a giant, body-hugging T-shirt over your whole body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and crisscrossing back and forth and through and back again. You can’t move just one piece of it, and you can’t make a move without bringing it along.

Now, pull the collar of your shirt again, only this time, hold onto it for eight hours. That’s about the time you spend leaning forward over a desk or computer or steering wheel, right? Now, pull it 2,500 times. That’s about how many steps you’d take on a half-hour run. Your shirt probably isn’t looking too good at this point.

Fortunately, your fascia is tougher than your shirt is, and it has infinitely more self-healing properties. In its healthy state it’s smooth and supple and slides easily, allowing you to move and stretch to your full length in any direction, always returning back to its normal state. Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that your fascia maintains its optimal flexibility, shape or texture. Lack of activity will cement the once-supple fibers into place. Chronic stress causes the fibers to thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. Poor posture and lack of flexibility and repetitive movements pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibers like snags in a sweater, and once they’ve formed they’re hard to get rid of. Hard, but not impossible.

How can I look after my fascia?

Education
Pilates is one of the best known movement therapies. Dancers and gymnasts have long embraced movement therapy. They use verbal cues, light touch and simple exercises to lessen the unconscious destructive movement patterns that may be irritating their fascia.

Respect your body
If you’re attempting to run through an injury, or returning from one with a limp, beware: Your fascia will respond to your new mechanics and, eventually, even after your injury is gone, you may maintain that same movement pattern. That’s a recipe for an injury cycle. It’s better to take some extra time than to set yourself up for long-term trouble.
Do a variety of activities instead of just one. If you just walk your body gets adapts to a certain pattern and this is detrimental to your fascia. Continually do a wide variety of different activities such as walking, swimming – and of course, Pilates! Zenga Flow especially is fabulous for stretching and conditioning the Fascia gently and creating Myofascial release.

Stretch your fascia
Once your fascia has tightened up, it doesn’t want to let go. Because the average fascia can withstand up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, you’re not going to force your way through, so you need to stretch gently.

Fascia also works in slower cycles than muscles do, both contracting and stretching more slowly. To stretch the fascia, hold gentle stretches for three to five minutes, relaxing into a hold.

Stretch your muscles
When you hold your muscles tight, the surrounding fascia tightens along with them. Over time the fascia becomes rigid, compressing the muscles and the nerves.

Move it or lost it
Sticky adhesions form between fascia surfaces that are not moved regularly. Over time these adhesions get strong enough to limit your range of motion. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to roll around in bed and really stretch out, head to toe, just like a cat after a nap.

Stay lubricated
Just like every other tissue and organ in your body, your fascia is made of water. It works better, moves better and feels better when it’s hydrated. So, drink up.

Relax
If you spend all day tense and tight at a desk, 15 to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath can coax a tight fascia to loosen up, releasing your muscles from their stranglehold. Make sure to follow it up with 10 minutes of light activity to keep blood from pooling in your muscles.

Common Pilates Mistakes (& how to fix them)

Learning how to get the most out of your pilates practise means learning how to avoid the most common pilates mistakes.

Not Breathing Correctly

The majority of Pilates exercises are intended to flow and coincide with your breath. The movements of the spine and sequence of the exercises are worked around this concept. This is in order for the new oxygen to nourish the muscles and blood while clearing out the old, stale air on the exhale.

You should be able to breathe while using the muscles in your abdomen, because breathing happens in the lungs. It is not a case of needing to suck in or hardening your stomach, it’s about stabilising your pelvis and breathing in alignment. Many people new to Pilates find that it really helps to practice a gentle lift of the lower belly and a deep breath into the entire ribcage.  A great way to learn this is by lying on your back, knees bent, feeling the inhale in the sides of the ribcage while allowing the back ribs to gently expand into the mat.

Pilates is fundamentally about the health, integrity, strength and flexibility of the spine. While in the same supine position described above, some people new to breath awareness find it helpful to feel the very subtle movements of the spine as they inhale and exhale.

Expecting to get it right first time

Pilates is a practice and often involves ‘un-learning’ old habits and patterns that are often the reason we turn to pilates in the first place. The best students are those who are opne minded and ready to give it a chance. The beauty of a practice is that it evolves and changes over time, but is always consistent.

Trying too hard

The idea of pilates is to let the core do what it’s meant to do – stabilize and provide a foundation for other muscles to rely on so they don’t have to over-work.

Overdoing the muscular effort cheats us out of working our deeper, stabilising muscles. Sometimes less effort allows the right muscles to work and other muscles to soften and release tension.

Any muscular tension, knotting, gripping, or cramping is a good sign you are trying too hard in one particular area. The key is to let go, regroup, and reconnect with your core and purpose of the movement, and then proceed more mindfully.

With practice you will learn that it’s possible to relax and yet still strengthen your body at the same time.

Momentum

The idea of Pilates is to control with your muscles – which is the opposite of momentum. In fact, Joe Pilates originally called his practise Contrology! He taught the art of mindfully controlling movements. The movements can be done as quickly as one can control them. Do your best to not swing, fling, or jerk into any movement. On the Pilates apparatus the springs encourage you to control the movements. With the mat work it’s different because you need to create your own imaginary sensation of resistance. Hold on with the core as you extend away from it with control, as with the side kicks or leg circles.

Distractions

Try to keep distractions to a minimum so that you can get the most out of your session, whether at home by yourself or with an instructor. If there is something stressing you out, or you have a list of things that need to get done, or you are worried you might forget something, write your thoughts or tasks down and try to forget about them for your Pilates time. Come back to it after with a new perspective.

Forgetting what you core really is

Your core is not just your stomach. It’s the deep muscles of your abdomen, your ribcage, back, shoulder blades, hips, buttocks, and pelvic floor. Just because someone has a rippling six pack does not necessarily mean they have a strong core. Your core is the foundation and base for other movements. Joe Pilates called the core the powerhouse for this very reason. Having a strong core promotes good alignment which in turn prevents peripheral muscles from overworking and straining.

Leaving what you’ve learnt in the studio

Whether it be improving your balance, a particular sport such as running, relieving joint or muscle pain or rehabilitation from pregnancy and childbirth, Pilates can help you in every aspect of your life.That is why I always take the time to have a full and thorough consultation with my clients, to learn how their practise can continue to help them after they’ve walked out of my studio door.

Even if you sit at a desk all day long, the principles you learn in Pilates can help you to sit and stand with more strength, balance and alignment.

Pilates can help you way beyond your workout.

 

Introduction to Post Natal Pilates

Our newest class, Mummy & Baby Post Natal Pilates starts this coming Thursday 11th January 10am. Here, Emma Hodson, our new STOTT qualified Post Natal Pilates instructor, introduces herself and the basic principles of her new class. Her classes are open to all and babies are welcome (but not mandatory). Emma will be working with you to strengthen and restore the body after childbirth.
Until the end of January, we are offering 10 classes for just £50.

If you would like to try Emma’s class, then please contact us here to book a free trial.

Pilates, Yoga & Mindfulness Luxury Holidays

Luxury Pilates, Yoga and Mindfulness Retreats, Sicily Active Holidays, is the collaboration of longtime Fitness Professionals and personal friends of mine, Mike Mckone and Marina Thomas.

Their luxury retreats offer guests the perfect balance of invigorating hatha yoga, toning pilates and calming mindfulness while enjoying the convenience of a full board stay at one of Sicily’s finest country estates, Villa Aranjaya.

With Sicily Active, not only will you enjoy a week of Pilates, Yoga, Mindfulness and other exercise, you can also indulge in a menu of healthy, tasty Sicilian food and authentic local wines.

Sicily Active Holidays have very kindly offered £100 off their beautiful retreats for all Millie Dobie Studio Members.

Read more about their upcoming 2018 retreats at Sicily Active Holidays or to book, contact Mike and Marina.

 

 

 

Reflexology in the Studio

Reflexology

We are delighted to have Tracy Taylor of POD Reflexology offering treatments in the studio at various times throughout the week. These treatments are available to all but Studio members will receive 10% off all treatments.

Reflexology uses a hands-on technique to offer a wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating therapy. Reflexology can help with a wide variety of conditions by stimulating the body’s natural healing system, and restoring vitality. Commonly treated conditions include pain, sciatica, digestive problems, IBS, migraines, posture, hormonal in-balances, ME, fatigue, insomnia, stress and lymphatic problems.

You can book directly via Mind Body or for alternative appointment times, you can contact Tracy directly at [email protected] .

 

Prices

1hr reflexology treatment: £40.00

Courses of 5 treatments: £160.00

 

* From Monday 11th September to Saturday 23rd Tracy will be offering free introductory treatments to new clients so book now to avoid disappointment.

 

Tracy tells us how reflexology can act as a powerful tool to help achieve mental and physical well-being:

Most of us know the importance of taking regular exercise to keep us healthy physically and mentally.

Finding a regime that enables us to keep our bodies active and supple is probably one of the biggest favours we can do for our bodies and will improve our health and reduce the risk of diseases including type 2 Diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long term health benefits. But most importantly, regular activity will improve the quality of your life.  It’s now well documented that exercise creates a healthier state of mind, improves sleep and affects the levels of chemicals in your brain such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones.

But of equal importance when trying to aim for a heathy lifestyle is recovery. Recovery time is hugely important to allow the body to replenish energy stores through healthy eating and repair damaged tissues with sufficient rest.

For those who take their exercise seriously, it can be tempting to overtrain and not recognise the importance of the recovery phase. This can actually result in the opposite to what you are trying to achieve including feeling general fatigue, lack of wellbeing and an actual decrease in fitness.

Getting good quality sleep is vital to how effectively your body replenishes and repairs itself not just from physical activity but also the general mental stress that many of us experience every day.

Unfortunately these very everyday stresses can prevent us from achieving the quality of sleep and relaxation that our bodies need to do their stuff!

How often have you woken up after a poor nights sleep and felt exhausted?  This is your body’s way of telling you that it has not fully recovered and repaired.

Deep relaxation allows you to ease off the pressure and have a break but its more than just lounging on the couch with a glass of wine.  What you are looking for is a state of deep relaxation where tension is released from the body on a physical level and your mind completely switches off.

Regular relaxation on this deep level is every bit as important as proper diet, sleep and exercise, and is vital for feeling your best, physically and emotionally.

Reflexology is a powerful tool to help with many physical and mental issues but at its core is the help that it can give to putting your body into a deep state of relaxation to help get it back in balance.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga this September

yoga
Equestrian Yogini

 

I am so excited to welcome Meg, the Equestrian Yogini to the studio this September. Meg will be holding a weekly Vinyasa Flow class at 6pm on Wednesdays throughout September in my absence. She has space for 8 people per class and it will completely free to my members so book now to avoid disappointment as spaces are going fast.

Here’s what Meg says about her classes:

‘Deep Flow is a type of yoga that moves with the breath. My teaching style is more about the feel of the pose rather than the look. Making it suitable for all levels, using the posture to introduce you to parts of the body you’ve not met before and feeling your way through the practice, I shall take you on a journey through the body, searching out any tension and breathing through to release.
Building the internal heat you will find yourself flowing with breath into many different postures and ending in relaxation.
I bring in spiritual texts and the deeper meanings of life, causing you to think about your journey through this life and how to make the best of it.
We use pranayama (breathing exercises) to cleanse the body and clear the mind that lead us towards meditation and relaxation.
I’ll always add modifications and adaptations to the more challenging postures’.

Contact us now to book your space.

September in the Studio

Thank You

Firstly, I just want to say a really heartfelt Thank You to you all for your constant support. It’s been just over a year since I took the leap to expanded the studio and with your support and loyalty, the Studio has gone from strength to strength. It has been such a pleasure to add new classes to the timetable and I hope you’ll agree that the Studio now offers a really diverse and exciting range of Pilates and Fitness.

September

A quick reminder that I will unfortunately be away throughout September as I continue my Stott Pilates training. I understand that this will of course impact on your training schedules but I strongly believe that it is of the upmost importance that I continue to train as I teach to ensure that you all benefit from the best training you could possibly receive. Thank you all again for your patience. Of course, your memberships will be frozen though September and extended by a month accordingly.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

I am delighted however, that Meg from Equestrian Yogini will be holding a weekly Vinyasa Flow class at 6pm on Wednesdays throughout September in my absence. This will be completely free to my members and I will be posting more about this class in due course. Meg has space for 8 people per class so please book early to avoid disappointment.

New Timetable

My new Autumn timetable (October onwards) is now live, take a look at what’s new here.

BBarreless at Henham

We had such a great time last weekend at the Pandita Yoga mini retreat at the beautiful Henham Barns. Thank you to all of you who were able to come to my new BBarreless class there, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I am looking forward to bringing BBarreless into my BootyBarre class this coming Autumn.

Reflexology

A quick reminder that Tracy Taylor will be offering reflexology at the Studio every Thursday from this Autumn so please do Email Tracy to book a space.

Millie xx 

More about… ZEN•GA™

zenga

People often ask me exactly what my Zenga Yoga Flow class entails.

Practised on the Reformer, ZEN•GA is based on Four Mindful Movement Principles: breath, support, yield and flow.

ZEN•GA™ is a synergistic blend of mind-body modalities, supported by exercise science and the newest findings in fascial fitness. ZEN represents the search for inner discovery, while YOGA symbolizes a pathway to reach it.

ZEN•GA focuses on core stability, stamina and resilience. Benefits include improved strength, enhanced elasticity and a more youthful, resilient and fluid body.

My ZEN•GA workshops will help to improve circulation, mobility and balance. We will work on enhancing total body awareness while heightening mental clarity and focus, through the power of movement.

 

Why not come and try a class with me, Fridays 1.30pm – all are welcome.

Book Here.