Tutorial #2981

Post Trauma

35 min - Tutorial


How do you work with a client who has gone through some kind of trauma? In this tutorial, Christi Idavoy addresses this topic with a discussion and gentle movement to help set clients up for success. She talks to Kristi Cooper, who recently had a concussion, to start a dialogue about her trauma, her apprehension in her movement practice, and the goals she wants to obtain moving forward. Christi then invites Kristi onto the Reformer, to bring her into a state of inviting joy of movement back in to her body.

This video is intended for those entering back into movement after acute care and have received medical clearance to do so. This video does not provide specific trauma protocol for any condition.

Kristi has written down a few key points that she learned after working with Christi. Click the link below to read her thoughts.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Apr 23, 2017
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Hi, I'm Kristy Ida Voy and I'm here today with Kristy Cooper, Christie and Christie. And we're going to talk a little bit about working with clients after any kind of trauma, especially because the Palazzos environment is such an ideal environment for that population and I think it really naturally attracts people that are going through issues and want to get back to working out, um, and don't necessarily feel safe to go work out. So they go to [inaudible]. And, um, what we've talked about is that oftentimes flight instructors aren't necessarily equipped with working with the people that want to work with them. What I was thinking about as I was reflecting, um, in getting ready to talk about this is I think the most important thing as instructors that we need to realize is that we're working with people, right? We're never working with the trauma or the injury or the accident or the pathology. We're working on creating an experience for people. So sometimes, and, and you know, obviously hindsight is always 20, 20.

And everything that we see, we see it based on our own. Um, I'm very, the things that I'm very aware of are the ones that I'm most guilty of. Right? Um, so oftentimes it's like, oh, well what hurts and does it hurt now? And how badly does it hurt? And on a scale of one to 10, how bad is it and what color is your pain? And then we get so focused on the pain, um, we really heighten and empower the identification of that person with the limitation with the pain as opposed to helping get that identity to come back around to the person that feels good to the person that is able to, the person that is happy and joyful, which as pilates instructors, and especially with all of the toys that we have at our hands, we have an unbelievable opportunity to, to create that playground for folks. Again, not necessarily because the exercises are the perfect sequence or the perfect spring setting. Um, but really just because it feels good. Some of the things that I like to ask folks about when they come into the studio is like, I want to know, well, what have you been doing since x, y, or z incident? Um, that makes me feel good.

What are the moments in your life where you feel the best during, throughout the day? Um, and then based on those responses I am, I try and think about, okay, how can we in a way mimic that or do things that, that I know it's like setting them up for success, right? If someone tells me, well, every time I get out of the chair, I have incredible debilitating pain. I probably won't do so much sit to stand, work against gravity. Cause I know, right? But maybe I'll spend a lot of time on the, where they're supported by gravity, where the feeder supported the, you know, it just feels good. They're mimicking a movement that's from sit to stand. But we're not going to go into the environment where it creates pain. So I'm here with Christie today because she's experienced some trauma and we're gonna go through some movement. And so Christy, if you just want to share a little bit about what's going on. Sure.

Um, about 11 weeks and five days ago, I, um, as part of my joy and part of my fun and part of my workout, I dance at home and I was doing that. And, uh, I do have a rebounder, which I was not using, but it was out and in a moment of joy and glee and excitement and I was almost done. I leaped up, leapt up onto it and slipped and I hit my head on the floor and I had to have a concussion. Um, that is pretty significant. I can't, no one really diagnosed it as mild, moderate or severe. But, um, it involved the inability to talk, not being on screens. I still struggle with lights and so on. And um, fatigue, mental fatigue renders me confused. So, um, I dunno what else you want to know about it, but that's the incident that happened and I could go on with symptoms, but, right. So, um, just to be practical about the segment based on the little bit that you just shared, what comes to mind for me is that it's obviously very, very impactful because you know, how long ago to the day the incident occurred, um, and when too much mental activity renders you fatigued, then as an instructor I would say I'm an ACU, like minimally. So I probably won't wanna use my words so much. I will use my breath more and I'm more of an organic kind of, you know, body to body, spirit to spirit and even again as, as the instructor getting getting out of the mind and just observing more.

How, how do you react to certain movements? Um, [inaudible] yeah, and, and really it's, it's about holding space, holding space for each other. Um, because I think it's, it's definitely a two way street. As the instructor, I always feel like I'm, I'm just an usher. I'm just sharing my experience and guiding other people to have their own experience. I don't know everything. I don't feel like I really know no much. And I think that when we give ourselves that space to just observe each other, um, I'm not going to shove my agenda down the person's throat. And, um, we get to learn as we observe. Um, I think that's really important. If you don't mind me please, because as a [inaudible] teacher, um, you know, I could, I could theoretically come in and teach myself, but I am afraid.

Um, each time I do come in and move, I do feel better, but not if I follow a protocol. If I try to follow a class or, and I've been reticent to be with a teacher and that's specifically why I asked you to do this, cause I knew you would hold space and I could let it out because I felt like, wow, like we don't really get taught that piece of it. And I don't, I can't say I know what to do, but, um, there's a fear to be taught because I can't follow yet. It's still, and, and to try is, is just that it just heightens, you know, you can think you're making progress and then when you have to go into an old space that you're used to being and even it, it can throw you. So, um, I think it's important that, that piece, that what feels good you've said, and also for the person helping, whoever's coming out of the trauma, it seems to me that would be a really key thing to be able to observe and watch and learn and adjust if that's what you were saying. Absolutely kidding. Absolutely. That's absolutely what I, what I was saying. Um, yeah. And you know the, the piece about fear and, um, cause I don't know what we're going to do either. You know what I mean? I don't, I don't feel like there's, uh, a protocol other than being open and really listening. And it's all about your intention. So if your intention is clear and your intention is to do good, you'll do good. You know, if the communication is open and you're listening, we're not going to hurt anybody. Um, other questions that we can ask people are, you know, are you walking? Are you going for long walks? Um, are you driving? I'm driving. You are driving. All right. So that's huge.

I'm even dancing a little, but that's, that's huge too. If they were Dan Harris. Yeah. Especially about fear. Right? Cause I mean, I've never had a concussion, but I had a motorcycle accident when I was 14. My Dad loves speed and motorcycles. And the first thing that we did once the stitches were healed and all that my skin grew back was get back on the motorcycle. You know? Um, so, and the other thing that I think is really amazing for you as you come back into a familiar environment and feel like it's not so familiar anymore that you get, do you get to be a beginner again in so many ways, which I think when we're seasoned movers, instructors, et Cetera, I don't know about you, but I'm always striving to get back.

How do I get onto the reformer and pretend like I've never done footwork, right? I can't think of a better way. No, but yes, absolutely. It's like it seeing it, seeing the opportunity and the light when things seem like they're dark and we feel lost is saying, wait a minute, where's the space for growth? Why, you know, if we have whatever our faith base may be, you know, we believe maybe that things are as they should be and that's just basic faith in something bigger than us. And then some kind of a natural order. You know, why is it raining and sunny in California today?

It must be for some good reason. We need the rain. The plants need some shade. The people do too. Um, so it was just finding that crack in, in the, you know, the silver lining. I mean it can get really cliche, but there's so much truth, truth in that space. So thank you. Thank you so much for inviting me to, to do this. I feel very humble and um, are you OK if I cry? Oh yeah, I'll try with you too.

That's another reason I don't want to work with anyone cause I'm like, okay man. All that, cause it's feeling yourself again. Totally normal is, is, is really overwhelming. Yeah. And so that happens me each and every time, whether I'm alone or the one time I've been with an instructor, which was only recently, um, it's, that's been the times where I go there. I am, I mean that's, that's more of my background than others I suppose that have come out of trauma. But for me it's been very interesting to override the lack of motivation to move because I am afraid then to do it on any level. Mild, barely, however you want to say it. And then to go, oh, there I am.

It's overwhelming. Right. And when you see yourself, you realize how far away you've been, how far away that's right or how far I have to go. It depends on how I frame it. Right. Um, yeah. So, but if it's in the same way that I think the instructor might need to hold space, if you could just tell yourself, if you, if I could tell myself, can I hold space for myself to recognize that there is a huge gap. But the good news in it is I'm still in there each time. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Even if we can't see it, right? Yeah. We're always in there. Right?

Yeah. So we'll work on creating a good memories so that when we do get into those spaces of feeling lost or confused, we can reflect back on the moments where we do feel like ourselves, where we are in our own skin. And, um, I think when you look back in your life and even on the like really bad relationships, you remember the good stuff, right? You, you tend to remember the, the highlights and you sit and you talk about your stories and um, that brings a lot of joy way more than, you know, a new pair of tights or a new yoga mat. The, the good story is a good memory. So we'll work on creating more of those. Great. Yes. Thank you again. Thank you. What are some of the things that you've been doing or would like to get back to doing?

Um, I would like to trust my ability. Probably the most I've been, I've, I've been trying to dance again and I have and um, it's amazing. I'm thrilled when it, when I can and, and I've, I've taken it even one class or two I think. And um, what I wanna do is trust my ability to move freely, to also work without losing it. And that that happens in any number of ways that aren't really necessary to share, but they're not pretty. So I would like to be able to confidently move without judging the difference. And what kind of music do you like to dance to? Oh, um, well it varies from Chris Stapleton to snoop to, you know, it varies. Really does. Okay. Yeah. So, so I w I will dance like I didn't, no matter what else happens, even if I fell again, that's going to happen. Um, I would like to do it confidently. I would like to teach again confidently.

I would like to be in a grocery store with lights or in this room with lights for longer than two hours without bursting into tears or having to call in for help. Okay. So I'd like to just feel myself being stronger within, cause I, I do know from past experience that that translates outward, whether it be physically looking, you know, aesthetically, whether it be in my actions towards other people. Um, and then what actually ends up happening in my life. So I want to come back out from this sort of close to place. Okay. And then in terms of movement, are you getting on the floor? Uh, in terms of movement? I am. I'm, I'm doing a little bit of holidays. Um, it's, um, I can do a lot actually. I just don't know when I'm done too much. Okay. And that's, and then I deal with a lot of symptoms of head pain and confusion and it impacts people around me afterwards, after. So after you do some movement, if I've done too much, right. When you do too much, you find that you kind of fall back into that space? Yes. It's like, I don't know if it's a regression, it feels like it. Okay.

And so then I'll spend the next couple of days, um, needing help, which I don't like. Thank goodness for it, right everybody. Thank goodness for it, but I you know, you, you, it feels a little bit like two steps forward, eight back, right when I push too far and I'm not very good at measuring it. So if I could just have solid baby steps, I'm at that place of knowing I did better than I did yesterday and I didn't take everyone down with me if I did too much. Right. Okay. All right, well well get on the roof reformer and we'll see what we can do. So we're just going to take Christie's Doosan through some gentle movements on the reformer and we, we'll start with the heels on the bar. I really like starting with the heel on the bar because we don't have to deal with all of the moving parts of the ankle and the metatarsal.

And then just let your tops of your feet soften. Take a moment to take a deep inhale through your nose and as you exhale, just kind of allow yourself to settle into the mat, letting go of the weight of your body, bring your awareness to where your belly button is. And as you inhale through your nose, just notice what parts of you expand around that area. How does you're exhaling, really just letting go. Taking a moment to realize that you're flying on your back, completely supported in a safe environment.

We just want to take a second for the body to embody that space. And that reality of everything is supporting you. And when you're ready, you can press all the way out to straight legs and then just slowly bend the knees and come back in. And as you glide back and forth, just move at your own pace. And the next time that you press out, go ahead and stand there for a second.

Notice the information, the shoulder pads. Give your body, allow the shoulders to release the jaw and the back of the head to let go. And notice that your hands are relaxed and letting go. And then slowly bend the knees as you come in. And just again lengthen back out. So if we take a moment to tune in to the information that the shoulder pads give us, um, it's really feels great. I like to queue taking a luxurious stride on the reformer, noticing that when you're standing here, you're standing and getting feedback from the shoulder pads, telling your self to let go, to let the weight of the world on your shoulders to just kind of subside.

You're again, you're lying on your back. The springs are giving you so much support. So it's like falling into a space of deep appreciation on a cellular level, on a feeling level of like, it just really feels good to do footwork and then a nice thing we can do for each other as we glide back and forth with a very gentle touch is just to provide a little bit of traction so that as the knees are bending, I think of the crown of the head, like the energetic body, right? There's a tunnel of light that moves through the crown of the head and down through the tailbone and it's laying thinning out as we're gliding back and forth. So it's as if the periphery, the outer layers of ourselves are getting grounded into our outer environment of the earth, while the deeper light body through the crown of the head is lengthening away from the earth. And then you can bring your toes onto the foot bar and again, just glide back and forth at your own pace. Do whatever feels good.

I don't have too many rules at the studio. The only one is if it doesn't feel good, don't do it. I don't take offense. Stop when you need to stop. Um, especially teaching a lot of group classes, you really, part of holding space for people is letting them know from the very beginning, I'm not here to judge you. You're not weak or strong. Those things are so, you know, vague. Uh, what does strong mean? You know, what does advanced mean? I think the pelvic clock is a really advanced exercise, right? That, and it doesn't require strength in the traditional sense of strength.

So I try and not even get into those conversations. Um, or at least shed light to say, Hey, let's look at it a bit differently. You know what, what do we really mean by that? And then go ahead and press out, keep the legs straight, let both of your heels glide under the bar. And again, I'm just going to apply very gentle traction as you're bending your knees. And by that I just mean I'm kind of pulling her heels towards me and then as you press out leading with the heels, and again, it just feels really to get the heel cords to lengthen this way. And um, especially for dancing. Um, thank you, right, because this part of our leg can really help to decelerate like when we're landing, um, if we jump when you're walking even.

Um, and so it's so great to take your time on the reformer and feel like you're really on this phase when you're bending your knees, really going slow to drag the heels under so that they start to learn how to lengthen out and slow down the pull of the spring. Um, and it just feels really good. And then the next time that you press out, go ahead and stay there and we'll just go into walking in place. And again, take a nice long stride. The slower it go, as you probably know already, the more you feel, right? It's like the spring gets a bit heavier when you slow it down. Um, and again, it's like giving yourself a chance to really experience the movement as you're in. It is. So often we're very focused on the results. We're very focused on getting into the exercise or getting into a position, getting into a job or getting into, you know, when I win the lottery, then I'm going to be happy. Um, rather than finding the joy in just the present moment and just that right now you can go really nice and slow and enjoy each part of the movement.

And then the next time that both of your legs are straight, go ahead and only bend your knees halfway in and we're going to pause it right about there. Let your hands come out so that you can feel that carriage and the frame and then let the heels lift and lower trying not to move the carriage just like that. And again, nice way, in a very gentle way to start waking up the muscles, feeling the body without a tremendous amounts of stuff to do. How's that feeling? And then you could even go back into the exactly that one. Great job keeping the carriage still. Yeah.

So yeah, very good job of keeping the care. It's still, that's not easy to do cause you've got to maintain this steady weight through both of your feet while you're managing the reciprocal movement in the ankles. So again, it might seem simple, but that's not simple at all. And then lift both of the heels, press all the way out. Let both of your calves have a stretch again. And we're just gonna hang out here for a couple of breaths. And as you exhale, I'm just gonna pull on one heel at a time now.

And when you're ready, you're welcome to stay there a bit longer. If it's feeling really good. When you're ready to come in, you can let both of your knees bend and just bring the carriage all the way in. Very nice. Feel those legs, Huh? Now bring your feet wide on the foot bar and we're just gonna let the knees rock from side to side. Imagine this top knee really reaching long over the top, and this is feels again, really great.

His starts to open up into the the rib cage and then as you're ready, you can do the other one again, really great for the dancing hips and then get that nice big figure eight movement in there and it just feels really good, especially after doing that, uh, where you're holding the carriage still on it gets your quads going. All right. And when you're ready, let the feet come together. Give your knees a hug and notice how that feels. If you feel the front of your hip sockets a whole lot, you can put the hands behind the knee instead of on top of the knee. If that feels fine, then just take a few breaths there. And notice as you inhale how your belly expands into your thighs and as you exhale again, just let things release.

Taking the moment to feel supported by gravity and giving yourself a gentle squeeze there. Nice place to take deep belly breaths because of the position of the thighs. It's like a child's pose or even like a stomach massage kind of idea where you get that compression of the thigh into the Oregons and it's like with the breath giving you a, an internal massage there. And just take one more breath while you're there. All right.

And then go ahead and bring the feet back onto the bar and we'll just do a little bit of the feet. And straps again, tends to be a crowd pleaser, right? Feet and straps feels good. And so let's bring your feet to parallel and even separate them just a tiny bit. So just take a moment to again remind yourself, hey, I have straps that support my legs. So really falling into that space of using the least amount of effort possible. And as you're ready, you'll let your legs start to move in whichever direction you feel drawn to either up or down.

And just notice what you feel as your legs glide up. Where do you feel it? Back of the thighs. Maybe, maybe in the lower back as your legs glide down again, notice where you feel it and you can let your hands rest on your abdomen here and just kind of notice the movement of [inaudible] the abdominal wall as the legs are gliding. I feel safer too. When your hands come onto your tummy. Yeah, she says, she's saying it feels safer when her hands are on her abdomen. We'll take it. I like to do that too. I like to have my hands on my abdomen.

Um, again, without judgment, right. Approaching the movement as an exploration. Um, is there really a right and wrong way to do it? Do you know, you know, are our ninjas going gonna come out of your pelvic floor if you don't do it right? Probably not. Probably not. Yes. Maybe. Maybe Perry's seen a lot. Might be cool if they did, I'll catch them. So I'm going to bring my hands onto her feet and just kind of move with her and it's just kind of helping to close a chain. Uh, energetically I'll visualize roots coming out of my feet, connecting into the earth, which is very grounding, a very healthy, fertile earth, and bringing that energy up through my hands into Christie's feet.

So everything is connected and it's really just about figuring out how many points can we connect. And then when you're ready, we'll go into circles. And again, I'm going to follow your lead [inaudible] and when you're ready, go ahead and reverse that and we'll do one more and then we'll rest. Bend your knees, bring it all the way in. And then again, just have that moment where you can hug your knees and just find that supported position with the feet in the straps. And notice if your legs feel any different than they did a moment ago when you were hugging your knees into your chest. And there's no right or wrong answer.

So when you ask questions of saying, Hey, what if you noticed this? And what if you observe that it's really just creating a space again to hold space? How do we hold space for people? They're kind of rhetorical questions and it's simply to trigger that internal conversation, that internal dialogue. Are you observing what you're doing? Are you observing what you're feeling or are you trying to follow a protocol and an agenda? And did I do it right and is it wrong? And Oh my gosh, I'm horrible. 20 lashes. No, not, not a good healing, not a positive movement experience as Brent Anderson would say.

So I'll help you take the straps off of your feet. And again, it's just a nice thing to do for each other, to guide our feet to the foot bar and then rock a little bit from side to side. How you feeling? Good. Yeah. Awesome. And then as you're ready, you can turn onto your side. Yeah. And to make your way up to sitting. Good. So based on what Christy shared earlier with us of pushing a little too far, we'll sometimes make you feel like you go back. I think we'll just end with that for now. Um, and you know, something we spoke about earlier is that, you know, she's sharing her experience after having a head trauma.

And it's like, what is trauma? Because, you know, I just became a mom a year and a half ago, and I could a hundred percent relate to the things that you were saying about coming back into feeling like, oh, there's a glimpse of myself, which makes me think, where have I been and who am I now? You know? So when someone passes away, when you have a child's a, when a dog passes away, a pet, anything that takes our breath away, anything that changes our sense of who we are as we walk through this life, um, we really want to [inaudible] just kind of hold that space for ourselves. And in turn, we'll be able to do that for each other. And Yeah, and I thank you so much for letting me be here and have this opportunity. Thank you.


8 people like this.
I love you two for this and the preview video when you talked! I thank you deeply for letting me being part of this, - it definitely talks to some hidden chambers in my heart! And the fear of not always standing up to expectations, - my own and those of others.. How beautiful was the moment when Christi closed the chain by putting her hands on Kristis feet and you melted into one body, giving and taking, connected through intention, breath and movement! I am very moved. I wish you well Kristi and I thank you Christi for showing us a way to be with a client like this in such a warm and thoughtful way!
3 people like this.
Very very professional and therapeutic approach. Kristi please take care and get well soon. Much love and healing prayers from Istanbul.
3 people like this.
Thanks for sharing this Kristi. I'm so sorry that you are going through this. Your idea for Pilates Anytime has been pivotal in helping me with chronic illness and I thank you for that and send my best wishes for healing to you.

Christi,I have only recently discovered your videos and am so excited to see more. You have a wonderful, calm, nurturing presence, not to mention expertise, and I thank you for this class.
3 people like this.
I feel like I just watched a master class on how to be a more supportive teacher. Thank you both for laying bare the humanity that we try to bring to and honor in all lessons. Heal well, Kristi.
3 people like this.
I'm not sure this conversation and practice could have been better timed for me, Kristi and Christi – my personal trauma has been back surgery, which was the culmination of years of pain, the last few months being especially acute.

I dance too, Kristi, and my last dance was on Christmas Eve; not inhabiting my body with joy and movement is very challenging for me. I began remedial Pilates last week and recognised so much of the class which you so beautifully put together, Christi.

So thank you both for your honesty and dedication, and for sharing your wisdom and experience. I wish you happiness and full health, Kristi. We are stronger than we know!
3 people like this.
ohhh love both of you for being so kind and sweet to each other, at the end tears wanted to come out, that means you both were so present one to each other. Hope I expressed correct the idea
Well if I didn't cry then, I am now! Everything Christi says is still so pertinent to my experience today and just what I needed to hear her and myself say (again). I shared my thoughts just after the experience that day in the description above if you'd like to read them now that you've watched. Now that I've watched, I really appreciate seeing Christi close her eyes shortly into the movement experience. I didn't know she did that that day, but I do know I didn't feel like I was being examined. I don't mind being witnessed and I know I need help. I can do that part, easier than I thought I could actually. What's hard is being examined. Exams come with news, judgement. I was not examined that day. I moved and was moved by Christi.
Silke Your description is exactly as it felt for me. I hope you enjoy discovering, then sharing more of those aspects of your heart going forward.
Joanna I am sorry for what you are experiencing too. Your words about not inhabiting your body with joy and movement resonate strongly for me. After this video was filmed, and a session with Trent McEntire (coming to PA soon) that I had just before it, I had enough of a foundation to enjoy my dancing again no matter what (how pretty, or not, just so long as it feels good). I hope you find even the smallest of ways to inhabit yourself with joy and movement everyday. I will continue to try to too. Yesterday I did it by cutting myself some fresh lavender outside the studio.

Thank you to all of you for witnessing me and this, without examination.
Once before Kristi you laid yourself bare after you were on the mend from pleurisy. You worked with Dr Brent Anderson on the Reformer and it moved me so much that I decided then and there to train with Polestar. Although I've not met Christi yet she embodies the Polestar ethos which my mentors Lisa Anthony and Joanne Bezzina joyfully infused into my learning journey.

Movement heals and I was so so happy to see you dancing again.

Big love to you both xxx
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