Other Forms of Movement

Home ThinkSpace Week 2: Movement, Energy and Fatigue Other Forms of Movement

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  • There are many somatic education and gentle movement methods designed to teach us to become aware of, and tune into, our inner body sensations and to bring our bodies back into alignment: Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Ortho-Bionomy, Relaxercise – just to name a few. Have you experienced increased body awareness as a result of learning to use this type of modality?
    What about mindful forms of movement – e.g., yoga, tai chi, etc.? Do these forms help you to get in touch with your body’s messages any more than traditional forms of exercise? How has this type of movement helped you to understand your body better?
    I am going to go out on a limb here and include biofeedback under this topic – either via machine, or from tuning into one’s “interoceptive awareness” – because it is a way to train oneself to monitor certain physical sensations or movements within the body, and adjust them via a constant feedback loop. Have you witnessed your body’s ability to “fix itself” through biofeedback? Is a machine any more or less valuable or valid as a body listening tool?

    Let’s not forget the kinds of body movement or manipulation that we pay other people to inflict upon us – here I am talking about methods of Structural Integration like Rolfing and Hellerwork; but also traditional forms of massage, and even the Carey Stretch (personally, my body told me it loves this one). What is your experience with getting feedback from your body during or after it has been manipulated by another person? Is it easier to listen when someone else is working on you?
    We move in our sleep, too. There’s a multi-million (or maybe even multi-billion!) dollar industry aimed at selling us implements to correct our sleep posture to eliminate pain and help induce a sense of well-being. Do movement and exercise help or hinder your sleep? Do your sleep habits impact your movement or exercise regimen? Do you use any special implements to correct your body alignment or eliminate pain during sleep? You can attach an image of the item to your reply.
    #interoception #bodyawareness #somaticeducation #careystretch #structuralintegration #rolfing #hellerwork #feldenkrais #alexandertechnique #ortho-bionomy #relaxercise #biofeedback #bodyalignment #painduringsleep #yoga #taichi #hurtssogood

    Gail Moser
  • Gyrotonics has been wonderful for me! Working on alignment, gentle strengthening, and body awareness are our focus. I haven’t done it that long, but I can see continuing as long as my body lets me. #gyrotonic

    • Thank you for this information, Midan. Here is another great alternative to traditional exercise that our participants might find is just the right program for them. So glad it is working out well for you, too! :-)

      Gail Moser
  • I’m a side sleeper. A body pillow helps keep my top shoulder from collapsing and my top hip from being pulled uncomfortably. Whenever I travel I use a pillow between my knees and one to drape my arm over. #bodypillow

    • I use a specially contoured pillow for my head; a neck roll that I made myself from flaxseed with lavender blossoms and lavender oil encased in muslin, with a cotton sleeve that I can remove and wash; and a pillow rolled up between my knees (when lying on my sides) or under my knees (when lying on my back).
      Even though I have eliminated my chronic pain through various mechanisms I STILL use these interventions for sleeping. I think they are part of the reason I don’t have trouble with pain during sleep. Oh, and I also bought a 3″ gel memory foam mattress pad, after I slept on one on vacation and it eliminated the many sore spots where my various body parts came in contact with the mattress.
      It looks crazy when I prepare for bed (and it is) but all of these things together work for me, and you know – most of us will do just about anything to relieve chronic pain. Even if we have to look crazy in bed. :-)
      #sleepimplement #sleepaid #sleepintervention #contourpillow #neckroll #kneepillow #memoryfoam #mattresspad

      Gail Moser
  • Life brings me what I am ready for – and last week – I had my first Qigong class – my body asks for more of this. I have derived great benefit from Alexander Technique and also restorative forms of yoga as well as a class that mixed writing and movement. I also love Irene Dowd’s work, and also have gotten terrific benefit from Yamuna body rolling concepts. I would like to put some intention into collating the 5 years of movement research, developing a skill set to help creatives access their authentic voices, work with respect for the architecture of their own body, and flow with an awareness of the complexity of the human condition – the body having many layers: a soul, spirit, pain body, emotional body, intellect, physical, genetic memory, imagination, play, cultural…. and with this – movement exploration that is inherently restorative and healing. Intention, intention, intention, awareness, awareness, awareness, being the change. Fusing spirituality/creativity/curiosity/giving/receiving/balanced flow/growing/shedding/rest

    It has much to do with learning from water that is for certain!
    Also, the value of micro-movements, moving slower than slow.

    I continue to be a big proponent of questing with your curiosity, deep listening to your intuition and your heart, flowing with what one is drawn to and riding the tide of synchronistic blessings (e.g. – meeting a friend by chance, and her suggesting Qigong).


    • Dymond, you have mentioned so many great forms of movement that some of our participants might not have heard of before (including me!) so I am going to put some information on the forum today about some of them. Because there is a lot of information I will post in separate replies to make it more readable and accessible.
      Definitely there is something for everyone out there. We hope that our participants will share many more of the experiences they’ve had with moving their bodies to keep them healthy while not getting injured (or dying from boredom of repetition of the same-old, same-old).
      #somanywaystomove #switchitup

      Gail Moser
    • You mentioned taking your first QiGong class – hooray for you, finding something that resonates with your body and at the perfect time. (There are no coincidences, right?) For the participants who are new to QiGong, you can also find it spelled “Chi Kung”, and it is another wonderful movement program. There are even sitting exercises for those whose physical issues prevent them from doing the standing positions. You might be able to find this video in your local library, as I did: “Chi Kung For Health, Volume Two: Six Seated Meditations” by Terry Dunn.
      The movements are called meditations, but to me, they are actually like a mindful, seated Tai Chi (I mean no disrespect to either tradition in making this comparison, and this is just my take on it).
      #qigong #chikung #seatedexercise #seatedmeditation #icantstandanymore

      Gail Moser
    • I learned about restorative yoga through a teacher in the north San Diego county area. She offers classes in Gentle Yoga, and also teacher training. Having fibromyalgia herself, her classes are geared to people who deal with this type of chronic pain and its debilitating effects on the ability to move (let alone “work out”). Dannette also is the founder of the first fibromyalgia support group in the San Diego county area, called FibroHaven. Forum participants in the San Diego area can check out her classes via the link below, but otherwise you can Google “restorative yoga” or “gentle yoga” to find classes in your own area.
      #restorativeyoga #gentleyoga #sandiego

      Gail Moser
    • Thank you for sharing about Irene Dowd. I hadn’t heard of her and maybe that’s because I don’t have the dance background that you have. I find it interesting that she was inspired to teach anatomy through movement, which reinforces learning through kinesthetic channels.
      I found this 3:57 YouTube video of one of her movement pieces called Resonance –

      – it’s a beautiful slow movement that looks like dance-meets-yoga-meets-tai chi, but I realize it is more than that and I don’t mean in any way to diminish what she has created.
      #irenedowd #ideokinesis #movementeducation #movementresearch #slowmovement

      Gail Moser
    • I hadn’t heard of Yamuna Body Rolling, but I found a Seattle news clip that shows a great overview of this program. It incorporates the use of small balls with breathing, gravity, and bone stimulation to bring dramatic results in range of motion and muscle tone. Here is the link to the 2:51 YouTube video:

      #bodyrolling #yamunabodyrolling #workoutwithoutworkingout

      Gail Moser
    • I wanted to also offer our participants an introduction to the Alexander Technique and I found this YouTube video. Okay, so it’s 10:52 and that’s really long (and there’s a 15-second ad in front – sorry!), but I chose this one because it shows how the practitioner guides the student to “unlearn” sitting, standing, walking, bending, etc. with proper head, neck, back alignment and posture. The Alexander Technique enables the student to make everyday movements of the body with a minimum of tension and effort, which can help to free the body from chronic pain. There is also an emotional component that it is said to release, once the tension is no longer held in the body.

      #alexandertechnique #unlearn #releasetension #minimaleffort

      Gail Moser
  • I’ve had some interesting experiences with alternative therapies where others manipulate my body. Bowenwork is a massage technique that uses very gentle manipulation to communicate with the nervous system and trigger healing (the site explains it much better than I can! http://www.bowenwork.org/whatis.html)
    My favorite movement-based therapy that I’ve tried is Muscle Activation Technique (MAT), that relies on small isometric exercises to gauge and correct the body’s muscular alignment. The “technique” itself is a small pulsing massage over the tendons around weak muscles, the idea being that when your body is under-utilizing a muscle the brain’s communication with it becomes hindered. Massaging the tendons helps revitalize the communication between the brain and the muscles, kind of like saying “remember there’s still something here!” The exercises are gentle, and being able to isolate individual muscles has really helped my body awareness. I’ve developed a better sense of where my weak spots are. I can’t really get a sense of this from everyday motions that tend to be more complex and use groups of muscles. I’ve learned that my misalignments and trigger points don’t necessarily align to the location of my pain, which has been hugely helpful in my treatment. http://muscleactivation.com/
    #MuscleActivationTechnique #Bowenwork #Isometrics #triggerpoints #alignment #massage

    Rachel Carriere
    • Rachel, I am amazed at the different techniques you have tried! But pain makes us want to try just about anything to rid ourselves of it, doesn’t it? I think your last sentence is an important takeaway from body listening: “I’ve learned that my misalignments and trigger points don’t necessarily align to the location of my pain, which has been hugely helpful in my treatment”.

      #bodylistening #painlocation #triggerpoint #alignment

      Gail Moser
    • two techniques I have wanted to try! wish health insurance covered it.

  • one other process I really like is “authentic movement” that involves a mover and a witness. I was introduced to cortical field reeducation by my somatic therapist and love this. It is an outgrowth of feldenkrais which I also really enjoyed the few times a friend has led me through this. there is also a very accessible movement technique out of Israel that was designed by a dancer trying to heal his body that is really yummy. I have only had two classes – but really supports bodies seeking healing – gaga technique.

    • I love the authenticity of the movements of the dancers in the videos. It’s like their bodies are displaying their emotions, which you can also see in their faces. At first I thought ‘How I envy these dancers’ abilities to move their bodies in such agile ways that they can do this Gaga movement language”. Then I realized that everyone should be able to do this to their own ability, and it would probably be especially helpful to someone dealing with chronic pain to move like this. I found a NY Times article “Twisting Body and Mind” that explains how Gaga works, and found that there is one version for dancers and one for regular people: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/arts/dance/gaga-the-exercise-and-dance-comes-to-new-york.html?_r=0
      Even though I don’t have this specific training or a dancer’s body or ability, I am going to try expressing myself through movement in a similar way and see what my body learns and tells me. There will be a lot of body listening involved with this! Thank you for sharing this technique and video and the Authentic Movement website, Dymond. So many things for me to investigate and try out! :-)

      Gail Moser
  • I had done alexander technique for years before I got sick, so even though I haven’t done any specifically for my illness, I’m sure that influences a lot of how I operate.


    A few hours before I sleep each night I do a 20-30 minute PT routine of extremely gentle stretches and strengthening exercises, completely done lying down. I have severe fibromyaglia and cfs, so I have to be very careful not to do too much or I’ll get slammed with post-exertional malaise. Every movement in my routine is extremely small, some not even visible.


    These stretches are done together with my personal assistants, and we work a lot on releasing tension in my hips and legs, and teaching me to breathe freely and easily while activating my core. I find that having people do the stretches together with me, in a hands on way, often brings awareness to my body that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. In one of my favorite adductor/hamstring stretches, the assistant puts their hand on the hip opposite to the leg we’re working on. I find my hip relaxes right away, just from having someone’s hand there. We end each session with two cranial releases which never fail to make me sleepy. The movement and releases definitely helps me to sleep better.


    In order to keep track of everything (I have memory problems) and incentivize myself I write down all exercises I do in a little book, and give myself a fun sticker each day as a reward.


    Once a week I visit my physical therapist who does a lot of trigger point massage and tweaks my home program.


    If I’ve pushed myself too hard during a day, I might be running on false energy (basically adrenaline) and can find it hard to calm down enough to sleep. If I let the pain levels get too high that also really impacts sleep as well. With movement it’s really important for me to listen to my body’s signals to make sure I stay within a safe zone. This week I’m quite depleted so I’m skipping the strengthening part of the routine. I always need to stay aware to keep things safe.


    I bought a new mattress this year, and spent a long time finding one that supported my body well. That has helped things a lot.


    I tend to put my hands on my shoulders as I sleep to prevent my hands from clenching, aggravating old hand injuries. I use a nightguard to keep my teeth from grinding. I used to have quite an elaborate pillow setup, but with with the new mattress I find I don’t need it.


    Forgive any strange language or dropped words. cfs affects language for me too, especially right now when I’m post PT and quite sleepy!

  • Byrt, thank you for sharing this and I am happy that you have a system that is working for you. The tracking, the stickers (a key component!) and the feedback loop with your PT are essential to your success. BTW, everything came through loud and clear, no language issues were detected. :-)
    The part where your assistants hold one hip while the other stretches the other side reminds me of the “Carey Stretch” where the technicians use their whole bodies in the stretching process. This was originally developed for athletes but is suitable for everyone. Oh, how I love this stretch! Check out this video on YouTube – they show how they stretch volleyball players, but it will give you an idea of how hands-on this is – these people are committed! It’s a 2:01 video but you only need to watch from :50 to 1:15, because those 25 seconds will give you the idea.

    There is a place in San Diego that specializes in this, and the loose and relaxed feeling gained from a session has been unparalleled for me, and no physical therapy session or massage has duplicated it. I have moved to another state and there is no place here that does this stretch. :-(
    For those forum participants who do not have two assistants at the ready to help them with their physical therapy and stretching (lucky Byrt!), if you have a stretch place in your area (not to advertise for them but it was called Stretch U in San Diego) do yourself a favor and try out the 20-minute Carey Stretch – I think you might be able to get a coupon for a free first visit.
    If you have the time (and a little more money) I would recommend the 40-minute session which is their own Lock-and-Stretch. Lying down on a massage bed they do a warm up where “tissues are locked into place and then gently stretched to produce circulation in muscle, tendons, joints, and most importantly fascial components. All major muscle groups are warmed up and released in preparation of the manual stretch of all major muscle groups.”
    In all, they do well over a hundred stretches that combine “passive stretching, contract-relax techniques, and neural flossing glides to all major muscle groups, upper, and lower extremities”.
    I miss u, Stretch U!
    #careystretch #lockandstretch #passivestretching #contract-relax #neuralflossing #stickers

    Gail Moser
    • Hi Gail,

      Yes the video from stretchU looks quite similar to some of the work that my PT does with me. My assistants (kind of like home health aides) aren’t trained to use their whole bodies and, because of the risk of injury, we do exercises at home that are much gentler.

      I just wanted to emphasize that it’s one person each evening who does the home-PT routine with me, and that it’s really something anyone can do. I just have a rotating cast because of turnover and because I get care 7 days a week. Several of my assistants like these stretches so much they taught their children to do them on them at home. (My favorite was the assistant who got her 7 year old to do cranial releases on her).

      The adductor stretch I was referring to looks like this:

      Lie on your back on a firm surface with one knee bent. Lets say this is your right knee Assistant is on on your right side. Their left hand is placed inside your left hip, just to stabilize it. Their right hand is placed inside the bent knee, which is brought gently towards the floor  – to the point of resistance and slightly beyond.

      Half of the stretches I do on my own, but the ones I do together with someone are all just as simple and gentle.

      Just wanted to highlight that so that people knew it was something that they could do with SO/friends/small children.



      • Thanks for illustrating your stretch technique, Byrt! Yes, children love to help and it models good practices for them (and memories) that they will keep for the rest of their lives. My brother still helps my mother to stretch in the way that your assistant helps you with the adductor stretch. He is very “mature” now but started doing this with my mother when he was much younger. She loves it! And I know my brother loves doing anything he can to help her to feel better.
        #adductorstretch #exercisewithchildren

        Gail Moser
  • I had a thought recently, when my weight dropped from 106 to 93 lbs with recent challenges. I shed the part of my body, the flesh and fat, that was a part of my journey as an artist, healing from PTSD. As I surfaced with a new formula for living, I thought, wow, how do I want to remake my body. I thought, with grace and gratitude. When I walked today, making progress from only being able to walk 10 yards a month ago, and now able to make the 1/2 mile walk without having to stop once, my initial strides were letting my arms float up with and inhale and thinking grace, and letting them float down with an exhale and saying gratitude. I thanked my body parts as I walked. Thanked my feet, my ankles, my calves… I thanked the rocks, the trees, the flowers, and in the moment I thank the sky. Movement from spaces of grace and gratitude – this is how I choose to remake my body. I wondered why my life had been extended. The only thing on my bucket list is the vision of wholeness centers… a seemingly impossible dream… at least I can let the dream be from within this new body I am building that flows in grace and gratitude while I continue to shed and shift and work at the inner stuff that doesn’t harmonize with this intention. But the intent is there. To flow in grace and gratitude.

    • “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh

      Gail Moser
  • Dymond, I can relate! I was largely bedridden for about four months and during that time I watched my body change a lot as my fat and muscle deteriorated. My body and my outlook are much different now as I am moving forward. The way I experience movement – in short walks and limited motions – I used to experience these as limitations and frustrations, and I now view them from the opposite perspective, with wonder and gratitude at the simple things my body can still do!
    I thought of a couple more therapies to share that I’ve enjoyed:
    Craniosacral therapy (https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/) and Zero balancing (http://www.zerobalancing.com/) are both therapies where other people manipulate you. I enjoy them tremendously both for the physical therapy, but also for the mental experience. For me they’ve both been incredibly relaxing treatments, and the knowledge that I’m doing something to align and balance my body leaves me feeling positive and energized.
    #transformation #gratitude #craniosacraltherapy #zerobalancing #bodymindtherapy

    Rachel Carriere
    • Ah, perspective! Yes, sometimes if we would only re-frame our experience, we would be able to see the beauty and the gift in it. There is always something to be grateful for – so, so much! :-)
      #perspective #reframing

      Gail Moser
    • I love craniosacral therapy!

      • Something else I need to try soon, I’ve heard wonderful things about it! :-)

        Gail Moser

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