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Workshop #3439

Fear Workshop

2 hr 25 min - Workshop


Everyone experiences fear at some point in their lives. In this workshop, Mariska Breland dives deep into the meaning of fear and how it is manifested in our brains and our bodies. She explains how fear can develop after injuries and what that means to our movement practices. She also gives practical examples with exercises that commonly provoke fear in clients to show how you can build up to the full exercise by creating successes along the way.


- Learn where we encode fear in our brains and how it impacts us

- Learn about common fears in movement and the steps that can be taken to overcome them

What You'll Need: Cadillac, Reformer w/Box, Wunda Chair, Mat, Reformer Box

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Jun 29, 2018
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Chapter 1

What is Fear?

So welcome. We are here today at [inaudible] time doing a workshop on fear. Um, and it's a, it is a subject very dear to my heart because I think I've always been like kind of a fearful person and especially with certain things in the exercise world. I'm like totally a chicken. So, um, it was something I particularly wanted to examine for myself and then when I started looking into it more, I just thought it was so fascinating that I thought it deserved it's own workshop, which could really be a two day really in depth workshop, but it's not going to be that on, um, on video. So I'm, this is where we're starting now. So thank you all for joining me. Um, and those of you who are watching from your computer screens, because we have a couple of people here, I just want to go through and kind of ask what some people's fears are. So there's a lot of fears that are kind of really common, like the fear of heights, the fear of falling, the fear of being horribly embarrassed. Um, the fear of being judged by friends and family. And boys and girls and things like that. But, um, specifically what are some of your fears? I think we should start with a guy.

So a, I think it's appropriate for right here. I'm afraid of the ocean. Abe is afraid of the ocean. It's just right there. Yeah. Um, so definitely, uh, that as well as I can only, I'm also like always afraid of being judged. Um, which is why of course I've chosen to work in this, uh, business where I'm in front of people, right? And in then Abe said fear of being judged, which I think is like actually the underlying fear of most fears. Daria. So sharks for sure the sharks all going back to like right there and um, and actually movement.

So I'm really afraid of moving in groups and people, that's a huge moving in front of people and like in groups, which I think is like a, also a really common thing where people don't necessarily enjoy group fitness because there's a lot of people and you're always like, they're all watching me even though they're not. But you know, we have this idea that you're being watched and judged and how you measure up with other people. Yeah. Oh, dance classes are like step aerobics. Like there was a step aerobics, there was a time back in like the nineties where it was a thing. And I was just like, it was not my thing, but it was definitely was a thing. So Aaron, yeah. So I'm looking at your, I'm looking at my list. Yeah. Spiders up there and spiders. I'm okay. [inaudible] she gets the spiders in the studio per se.

Um, but I guess after becoming a mother, you know, once, yeah, absolutely. Partners outside of your body then, right. The fears are all based around and Arrow's talking about being a mom and then you have all these fears about somebody who isn't you and like what could happen to them. And you know, it's so we're so accustomed to being fearful ourselves, but then you become fearful for other people. Juliana? Um, I if afraid of forgetting conversations with people. Okay. For getting conversations. Interesting. I, I've had five head injuries.

Okay. Multiple head injuries. So that makes sense. I'd have some term, a memory loss. So, um, I really love talking with people, especially my clients and my friends. And I feel really bad when I've had a conversation with someone and I ended up having the same conversation again and I because of that. So that fear of not remembering things. And so there's an underlying also fear of being judged because you fear that you don't remember what it was that you said and maybe you would say something, um, twice and people will be like, what, what's that about? Gotcha. Okay. Um, I think I have all the fears that all of the same fears. Yeah.

I think one of my biggest fears probably is being out of control. Okay. That's an interesting one. Being out of control. The, I think that that seems very logical to me also in the, when we're looking at exercise, what the exercises are that are, are scary for us is that we do feel like we don't have control in them. Um, and so mine are, um, generally I have a fear of heights, um, which is really more a fear of falling. So if I am like going to a rock climbing gym or something like I can do that because I'm not looking down. I'm looking like at the thing right ahead of me. So I just don't look down cause that would be really scary.

And then on like a personal note, I'm very afraid of losing mobility because I have Ms. So I'm afraid of not being able to walk is probably my greatest fear. And then I have like a lot of workout fears, um, which I'll talk about some kind of as we go through things today. But the important thing to know is that all fears basically manifest in your body in the same way. So your body doesn't, doesn't put a judgment on that. That's like spiders versus ocean waves versus the plane you're on having bad turbulence or something like that. It's all going to be measured, um, in your body. It doesn't really differentiate.

It's just like fear is fear. Okay. So fear is offense. Essentially. It's a future projection of a possible scenario. Um, I really don't like when people like do all these kinds of um, inspirational poster things where they're like, oh, fear is false evidence appearing real. It's like when I've heard and I'm like, no, that's entirely not true because it's real evidence to your body. Your body doesn't know. It doesn't place a judgment on it.

It's like your more evolved brain can place a judgment on it, but your primitive brain is just judging it as like bad, dangerous. We need to protect you as a person. Fear is an thing. Obviously there are certain things we can avoid. Like if you're afraid of the ocean, you can just choose not to go into the ocean. Like I have very specific requirements for being in the ocean pass where my feet can touch the ground.

That's like my thing is I have to be able to see like it has to be clear water. So I'm like I love swimming and snorkeling in the ocean when it's like when the ocean is the Caribbean and you can see like everything everywhere around you. So if there were like a shark, I could theoretically see it before it ate me. I mean, I don't know that I could out swim it, but you have that kind of level of control. But when we're working with fear, you need to learn when to listen to it because it's like this is really important. Your body is telling you something, um, when to ignore it because it's like, but really that spider is probably not going to get you. You're a little bit bigger than it is. And then when to proceed with caution because that's really what your body is telling you. It's like you need to pay attention to what this is.

So I have, um, basically divided the brain up into three little sections. So the first is my low caveman and the caveman is the primitive brain. So this would be, we came out of the primary primordial ooze or we evolved. However it is, we evolved and, um, we didn't have like the brains that we have today. So our brains, we're pretty much all about survival. So here we have like the limbic system.

And so the limbic system has your Amygdala and your Amygdala is all about emotional control. So it's going to activate the hypothalamus, which has a regulatory effect on like the pituitary which spits out cortisol. So cortisol is your stress hormone. A lot of people who live in today's world are like drowning in stress hormone that they don't really need to have because it's like we've just have kind of a stressful life. So your body gets kind of pumped full of cortisol, which is your fight or flight, um, response, um, chemical that you would have in your system. Um, the hypothalamus also governs other physiological functions such as like heart rate, body temperature, sweating, sex drive, like all of those very primitive things that you would have. Um, and then as part of that you have, um, the hypothalamus, which is we said, um, the part that's governing a lot of these physiological functions. And then I put the hippocampus there in parentheses because it's part of your primitive brain, but it's going to be part of another part of your brain that I think is really important for learning to overcome fears. The next part we have is your evolve brains. I have my little Yogi person, so this would be like your frontal lobe.

So it's the part of your brain that can reason and say, okay, you're being irrational. Um, that spider probably isn't going to get you. It's all the way over there. Something like that. When people are younger, like younger teenagers or early twenties their frontal lobes are like not fully formed and functional, which is why teenagers do really stupid things. So I'm sure you did really stupid things when you were teenagers. I thought I was like really smart teenager. I was like, you know, generally did well in school, but I remember I saw this article and it was about a a car crash where there were a bunch of teens piled into a car and the car went off the road and all these kids died. And I remember reading it and being like, Ugh, that's so stupid. Why did they do that? And I was like, Whoa, hold on. Totally did that. So when I was a kid, I grew up in Virginia Beach, we would pile like nine people into a jeep that didn't have doors, you know, like the jeep that has just the crash thing and drive to the beach at like night. Really super fast down roads.

And I remember thinking at the time that it was not the best idea, but my desire to be socially accepted went far beyond my desire to not die in a horrible car accident. So, um, that's where like the frontal lobe, when it's more developed would hopefully reason with you a little bit better. You also have sort of the prefrontal cortex and the motor cortex, which are just more evolved parts of the brain, which is decisions about moving and then how it is that you move. And then the really important part, I think when you're, we're in, you're working with overcoming fears is what I'm going to call the librarian brain. And that's the hippocampus. Um, which is where your memories are. That's both part of the primitive brain and the evolved brain. But the more good stuff you can pack into that librarian brain, the more you're going to have reasonable responses.

When you have fearful situations, everyone's experienced with the primitive brain, so the primitive brain is fight or flight, but I'd like to add on to that freeze. So does anyone other than me just go like completely just deer in the headlights does nothing like you're not going to fight and you're not going to run away because you're stuck. That's actually a really common response. When you're really scared of something as that, you'll just kind of shut down like the whole system shuts down. I know if I'm ever getting mugged, I would just stand there and I'll be like, whatever, just take what you want. The primitive brain gets information immediately from the senses, so if you see a bear, it's going to go right into primitive brain and is like bear, respond to that.

If you hear a rustling in the woods, that might be a bear. It's going to do the same thing. It goes right into the Amygdala and you're just like, what? You know? Everything starts to fire. If you smell maybe a bear or a fire or something like that, it's all going right into that primitive part of your brain that's going to say we need to respond to this like instantaneously.

So the problem with working with fearful things is that the senses hit your primitive brain way before your evolved brain can rationalize what's going on. So we're talking like five times faster that the information is getting to your freak outside of your brain before it's getting to the, let's be reasonable here, side of your brain. Then you have inflammation going to the Thalamus. The thalamus is the gatekeeper of movement. So the Thalamus is essentially, I'm always under suppression from neurotransmitters. And then if you need to move, there's different neurotransmitters that are going to turn off the suppression of the Thalamus to then send information through the Basal Ganglia to tell you take a certain action. Next you're going to have, um, especially if you're nervous, your adrenal system is going to start pumping out adrenaline and that adrenaline is going to make things happen. Like your heart rate goes up, you're ready to fight or run away. Or apparently freeze as well.

And then you also are going to start getting your Vegas nerve involved. So the Vegas nerve is your 10th cranial nerve. Your cranial nerves are mainly in your brain stem and those nerves, um, interact more in a primitive level than your, your brain does the rest of your brain. And so your vagus nerve actually controls a lot of things like um, your sympathetic nervous system. So here's where we have your sweating, your digestion, things like that would get impacted when you get nervous. Has anyone other than me notice how your, your sweat smells different. So you have like your, I worked out sweat and then you have that kind of like Funky, weird, like I'm really nervous sweat that you're just like, I don't think the deodorant is like capable of dealing with this situation that we're having right now.

So that's actually a really interesting response that your body has to a fearful situation. So that unpleasant kind of more musky smell that you have when you have nervous sweat is actually supposed to trigger the fear response in other people around you. So it's more designed to get other people to think like either we're in this together and we're all gonna have to run. So it's kind of a warning signal to other people or don't mess with me because I'm pumped full of adrenaline and cortisol right now and I could take you down and basically is the reason that happens. Um, you're all also having your heart starts beating faster. So you know, you have that kind of feeling that your heart is pounding through your chest and that makes more blood flow to your muscles so you have a faster reaction time. So if you need to run or fight, you can do it more quickly. Um, the speed of your breath increases and that's to oxygenate the blood so that your muscles again are primed and just ready to go.

And then this is a really fun one. [inaudible] the stretch receptors in your sphincters start to get hypersensitive. So if you have the feeling that you're going to throw up or have diarrhea, totally normal things to do when you're really scared. And then also you have the blood flow moves away from your digestion, which is why you start to feel really nauseous. If you had like a big meal prior to doing something that might make you nervous. And I'm not a particularly nervous public speaker, but you just put a camera in my face and I get a little nervous.

So I actually don't eat on days where I'm shooting videos because I'm always like, oh no, but it's good. Just like ends kind of badly. Um, the thing about your primitive brain isn't, it's an extreme motivator and if you try to ignore it, what it's gonna do is it's going to elevate the response. So then you actually are gonna have more and more cortisol in your system, which is gonna make you feel more paranoid, which is going to make everything like catastrophic, which is why if somebody that you're teaching or you yourself are doing something scary, you have a tendency to reach like maximum freak out where it is not good to try to make somebody keep going in that situation. So if you're doing something that is frightening to you and you start to get the, like if you have a student or something like I need to come down, I need to come down, I need to come out of it. They need to come out of it because you basically need to take a step back, let the chemicals like kind of disperse a little bit before you try to do something to move that exercise maybe further because it's just, you can't handle that much fear chemicals that are happening in your body.

So some of the neurotransmitters that we have that are in play in this situation, um, are dopamine. And dopamine is my personal favorite of all the neurochemicals because it's a really good motivator. So it's really good at making you do something. So dopamine is the chemical in the reward pathway. So a lot of people think if you do something you like, you get a hit of dopamine. That's actually not how dopamine works. Dopamine works by you going after something you like the getting it doesn't actually give you the dopamine hit. The attempt gives you the dopamine hit.

So when I'm working with somebody or myself on something that they're afraid of or I'm afraid of, think about like micro dosing, dopamine. So you're trying to get people to have more of this chemical that makes them want to do something more and more and more in their system because then they're going to go out there and be like, okay, I tried it and I didn't quite get it, but now I want to try it again because I almost got it. Or whatever adrenaline is that one that we really have working through that primitive brain where you're pumped full of it and it preps the body for action, usually kind of run away or fight action. You also have endorphins. So when you're really nervous, like let's say if you've ever been doing something and you had one of those mystery bruises or cuts or something and you didn't feel it, possibly you had your body flooded with endorphins at that time. So you were so focused on one thing that you didn't feel like pain in what you were doing.

And then we have serotonin and Serotonin is the happy chemical. It's contentment. And it's actually important because if you feel happy and content that actually helps to create a habit, which is a way to kind of get out of being fearful in a situation. So if you go to a therapist, um, and you're talking about your fears, the question that will come up is, is it your mom's fault or is it your dad's fault? In my case, it's my mom's fault, so I'm gonna let credit my mom for this. But there is a very interesting links to genetics and fear and anxiety.

So it's not like there's one fear gene, it's actually like a whole series of little switches that if they get turned on in the right way, you can be genetically predisposed to being fearful of something. And they talk a lot about now I'm like, people who are children of famine or children of Holocaust survivors or something like that, that their genetic components are altered based on the experiences of their parents. And this has like played out in actual laboratory experiments. So they had mice that um, you know, all the animal experiments always sound terrible, but they had mice and they were running them through something and when they ran into the scent of orange blossoms, they would shock the mice. And so the mice then got really like an aversion to the smell of orange blossoms. And then they found that the mice, children and grandchildren had the same aversion. So if they got near, they didn't like getting near anything that smelled like orange blossoms and they would like move away from it. And when I was like reading about this, I was trying to think about like what my life was like and like why I didn't do certain things when I was a kid. Like I wasn't a kid. I never learned to do a cartwheel ever. I didn't do handstands, I didn't do things like that.

And I remember my mom telling me this story that when she was a kid in the Netherlands, they had gym class and the girls did like gymnastics. Like they did vaults, they did uneven bars and things like that just in like elementary school. And she had a really bad fall. And I don't know if that ended up getting passed along to my genetics cause both my sister and I are the same way, which is weird cause we both now are really kind of into challenging, fearful things. Like my sister's really, really good rock climber. But then there's also the nurture component.

Cause my mom's thing when we were kids who was always like don't get hurt, you're gonna fall, don't climb that high. Things like that. And I have my plotting, his teacher has a son who's this amazing gymnast and dancer and he does all these flips and crazy things. And I asked her when he was a kid like how did you talk to him and did you tell him like be careful, be careful, you're going to get hurt, don't do whatever. And she said that she didn't, that she just told him make good decisions. And I was like how interesting is that that maybe if you have a kid, like if I had a kid I would literally just hang them upside down constantly.

So they would just get really used to being inverted. Because I think a lot of people's fear of inversions could have been eliminated if they did those things as children, right? So I didn't do those things as kids, but if I had a kid, I would be all about like that and making them watch TV, sitting in the splits so they never lose it. Flexibility. But so yes, you can in fact blame your mom or dad for some of these. Next we have our evolved brain.

So that's your frontal cortex and that's where you can have an analysis reason. That's where your hopes and dreams and goals and all of those things are. Um, the problem with it is it's just slow compared to your primitive brain, which is designed to protect you. So it's going to need to be a little bit quicker. Um, one thing you want to watch for though in your evolved brain is, um, cognitive distortion, right? So like where your beliefs are just kind of patently inaccurate. So you would say like, Oh, I totally am incapable of doing that. It's like, well, really?

Are you or are you just, is that a story that you're telling yourself? Also kind of expectation overload. Like do you think you can do anything to the point where it's like actually detrimental to you? Because there's definitely people like that. It's also the part of your brain where you can analyze yourself as a mover. So you can say, I do this, well, I don't do this well if I do this, my teacher friend, whatever, we'll be impressed or proud of me. Like that's kind of where that is handled.

And then, um, I think that will, and I'll go into an exercise that we're going to do, cause I think it's really important to figure out what your perception of yourself as a mover is. Because it's interesting because there's a lot of judgment that we put in there that's not necessarily completely accurate. And it's a lot of times going based on, you know, who we were as kids and not who we are today. Okay. So next we have that kind of librarian brain and the librarian brain is the hippocampus, which is going to regulate memory and emotions about those memories.

Um, this is really important because if you have a really bad memory, it's going to encode really strongly in that. So it's your, what memory you're going to pull up first is probably going to be a bad memory unless you can just file away dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of successful things that basically can beat out that one unpleasant thing. So I'm sure you all have the experience where you can remember every mean thing anybody said to you in elementary school, right? You can go back and be like, oh, there was that time that person said this. And it's like you can't remember all the nice things people said because they just don't encode as well. So you, we all encode failure and judgment much more strongly than we encode success regardless of how great your parents are at telling you how fabulous you are, we have procedural memory. So procedural memory is actually what you want. It's that fast automatic. You don't have to think about it kind of memory. So if I'm driving a car, I have procedural memory about driving a car.

Again in the car, I turn on the car, I hit the brake, I put it in reverse. Like I don't really have to think about that. If you have to think about it, you're not going to be as efficient with it. So your brain wants things to end up being into put into procedural memory because then it can be accessed really quickly. If you're putting something into working memory, working memory is where you really have to think about what you're doing. So you basically be like, okay, um, I'm gonna put the key in, make sure you have your hand or your foot on the brake, put the key in, turn the key, then keep your foot on the brake, but then put it into reverse. Slowly let your foot off the brake. See, it's just not efficient. You don't want to have to think about things quite so much to make things easy.

And then in the hippocampus, what's interesting is there's two sides of it. So you have the left hip campus and that is learning facts and episodes. So it's essentially the autobiography of you. So it's like you remember when you were eight years old that you did this in your dance recital and then everyone applauded. It was amazing. I'm in the right hippocampus. That's your spatial memory.

I feel like mine is broken. But um, in general it would say that in my house I can walk around the house at night half asleep. If you have to go to the bathroom like, and as long as your husband didn't leave his laundry in the middle of the floor, then you would probably pretty be pretty good at getting from point a to point B without any major catastrophes. Um, the hippocampus is going to work because it is really part of the primitive brain. And we'll, I'll show you a picture. It's right next to the Amygdala that is going to work in a super fast way to compare a present experience and look for past experiences. So it's like, this feels kind of like this search through. And do you have anything like that? Um, there's a exercise I might show you. I'll talk about it that I saw a picture of, and it was like everyone was like, oh my God, this is this thing. This is the Olympians doing on the chair. And I looked at it and I was like, oh, I could totally do that. And it looks really scary.

But when I looked at it, hippocampus memory says, that looks almost like if you had a headstand bench, but you just didn't have both shoulders on the headstand bench, in which case, to me, that memory of doing headstands a zillion times on a headstand bench made it look like, oh, that's actually not as hard as it looks. Because if you have that memory of that and you can just translate it a little bit, it's really almost the same exercise. Okay. So in this picture you can see how very close we have, the Amygdala is right next to the hippocampus and the temporal lobe of the brain. So memory is actually going to live in both the primitive brain and the librarian brain so that both can be accessed super quickly. Um, in the primitive brain, you have your habits, sort of their implicit learning, your classical conditioning. So it's like you hear, um, a bell, if you're Pavlov's dog in your mouth starts watering that's in that center. It's also where your, what's called non associative learning is and not associative learning is your response if there isn't a stimulus.

So the stimulus would be like the Pavlov's dog and the non-associated would be the not having the s that's kind of stimulus. The librarian brain is more explicit learning. So it's facts, it's events, um, and it's sort of where your attention gets put. So if you have like in a split second, something will grab your attention and maybe you pay attention to it and maybe you don't and your brain just doesn't have the capacity to pay attention to everything. So it's like, do I need to pay attention to that thing? Um, you know, the, um, the thing, the secret that got really popular out there and they're just like, you like what you want, you'll draw towards you. This actually goes into this kind of part of the brain that about this selective sensing. So it's like if you say, I really want like a house with amazing windows in this neighborhood and you, you know, believe in like the secret or whatever, it's like, well, but scientifically what's actually happening is your brain is paying attention to everything that plays into that want or desire. Right?

So it's like where maybe I would have skimmed past a Facebook ad that was talking about a house in that neighborhood. If I'm looking for a house in that neighborhood, I'm going to, it's going to grab me and I'm going to say, okay, like I want to know that that's like a thing that is in my desires or wants from seconds to minutes. That's where things move into your short term memory. Um, so it's like if you read something, maybe you remember a little bit about it. I'm like the classic person, this is like, I read something about that, but it wasn't important enough for me to remember it all. So I remember I read something about it and I remember where I read it, but I don't necessarily know because it never got transitioned into longterm memory and longterm memory. A lot of times what gets put there is something you care more about. And so it's something that is minutes, two years.

So sometimes something would be important enough that you would immediately put it into a longterm memory and s as even if it's a bad thing. And especially if it's a bad thing, you're kind of heightened to that. Um, but you wouldn't necessarily put everything there.

Chapter 2

Fear and Exercise

Now when we're talking about exercise and fear and exercise, I think it's really important to understand what is going on with your clients and yourself so that you can actually make it better. Um, so we're going to try to overcome some of these fears and the typical types of exercise sphere you're going to run into or something called Kinesiophobia, which is just the general fear of movement. Um, and that is a lot of times associated with an injury or with pain from like a certain situation. It's also fear of specific exercises or movements. So I'm sure you've all had the people who like have a strong aversion to backbends. Like, that's one cause a lot of people are worried they're going to hurt their back. There's also people who are um, averse to having their head below their hips, any kind of inversion or just tilting their head forward or anything where you feel like you're gonna fall and falling is one of the fears you're actually born with. So you can't really judge anyone for having that fear.

I mean that's like the most natural fear. And then, um, what I really think is like most people's exercise issue is the fear of embarrassment or judgment that people have when people have kinesiophobia. It's an, it's a really interesting thing. So kinesiophobia is way different from being afraid of like a spider. Cause if you're afraid of a spider, you can really easily rationalize. Well it shouldn't be afraid of a spider. Like rational brain says, spider is like this big and I am Yay big.

And so clearly I could get through that. If you have fear of pain, pain is a real thing, right? So it's like you might be in pain at that time and then kind of a problem that is inadvertently taught by movement professionals and doctors and physical therapists is the completely accurate thing to do, which is telling people not to move to a point of pain, but then people don't end up challenging things when the pain is like actually would be better if they moved. Right. So let's say you have somebody who has like some sort of disc issue. I think like thoughts as teachers generally is like, we don't want to do anything that's going to aggravate that.

But if you don't do stuff that challenges someone, are they ever going to get better from that thing? And that's like a really, I mean, I'm not going to tell you when to make that call because that's going to be so specific based on the person. But I know, um, I, I've never had a bad back pain ever in my life until this past year where I had like a bad deadlift with my trainer. And then I literally couldn't do hip flection. I couldn't do a forward fold. And it was like months before I eventually went to a chiropractor, fixed it in two visits. But I went to acupuncture. I went to physical therapy. I, I, what I didn't do was I didn't go get an MRI because I didn't want to know if I had like slipped a desk because I know based on research that I've done that you, that you actually won't, it won't be worse or better based on you knowing that. So I was like, I will prefer to be ignorant about whether I'd really, really hurt myself.

But I kept working out the entire time. I just did. I did a lot of arms so my arms got really strong because I was doing a lot of upper body because that was the only thing that really didn't hurt. Um, and then once it finally got fixed, I was kind of in a better place because I hadn't lived in this kind of fearful, fearful thing. Um, when people are injured, a lot of times they follow what's called a fear anxiety model. The first thing is what's called, um, catastrophizing the experience. So you are like, oh, I like tore my ACL and it was like the most horrible, excruciating pain I've ever been in. And so that's the story that you start to tell yourself about the experience.

Then people start to avoid a movement because they're really fearful of having the pain that they had from the movement before. Um, then you have what's called a d training effect. So basically you are so fearful of moving that spot that you end up being kind of immobile and stiff and you're actually more likely to feel pain because you're not moving it at all. And then people irrationally, um, obsess over pain-related fear and then, um, that increased mental or physical distraction can actually lead to you being more likely to hurt yourself. Right? So, um, I know Keto does dance and like really beautiful dances and I'm sure like you probably have experienced the thing if you fall, you need to go do it again. Right? So it's like the longer you sit there and think about what it is that happened, the more likely you are to avoid it and then never be able to kind of get back. My only really bad, um, PyLadies injury, which was spectacular if I do say so myself. Um, I was doing a back walkover off the ladder barrel and I broke my kneecap so I fell like straight down on my knee, but I fell straight down on my knee.

Not because I didn't have the strength or I didn't have flexibility or anything like that. I fell because I thought that the ladder barrel was up against the wall and it wasn't all the way up against the wall so that when my hands hit the floor, what happened is I started to push and then I pushed the ladder barrel back, in which case then I couldn't get my feet around to like land on the floor. So I got one foot around and then just went straight down on my knee on like the hardwood floor. And I have to say, if you haven't broken your kneecap, I don't recommend it. But it's actually not a horrible, horrible injury. And I was scared the first time I did it again, which was not that same day, it was like months later. But um, it was really one of those things that it's like if you have a moment that like you have this acute injury and you can pinpoint exactly what went wrong, you're much less likely to develop kinesiophobia about it. Kinesiophobia is more something you develop from a chronic condition.

Like a lot of times it'd be a lot back injury and you can't say I hurt my back at this point. Right? So I have a client right now who's an amazing Yogi. He's, um, can do things that I just can't even fathom putting himself into these weird positions. But he actually has spondylosis, dcis at this time, which is one of the worst back injuries you have. And he's such a hesitant mover, which is so sad because of how brilliant a mover he was. But he doesn't know when it happened. It just started hurting months ago and it just keeps getting worse because he's getting stiffer and more in mobile and doing less.

And doing less and doing less. So I just recently started working with him because he wanted to try to get some of that mobility back. And he's for somebody who could do such bad-ass things. He has so much fear around movement. Um, and it's our job to try to ease people into things and show them that yes, you can do these things that you have stopped doing because we can take it like at these little teeny steps. But these fears are very reasoned right there.

It's not like somebody has a crazy fear that is irrational. So you can't say your fear is irrational because it can be really quite legit. Right. Unless you're my husband, in which case maybe I would. Totally true story. My husband has had two ACL surgeries, um, from playing soccer and he started playing squash. He played squash in college. He started playing squash again. He was saying how, oh my knee just buckled. It just buckled. And I just fell straight down.

And I'm just like, you're like one of those like soccer players who's just like, oh, somebody touched me. And then you just throw yourself on the ground. And I was thinking, I was like, it's not like a, it's not like a conscious thing. I'm like, I think it's like a subconscious thing that you're just trying to protect yourself. Right. And then I, he went to my physiatrist and turned out he had a torn MCL. So don't listen to your wife, your wife is not as sympathetic ear necessarily because he actually did have like a legit injury. Oops. Um, another thing people have is just fear of injury, which is really common in sports, especially if somebody had an injury in sports like my husband. Um, and that's an interesting one because how much fear is actually a good predictor of how much you're likely to injure yourself. Because when people are scared, they're more likely to brace, they're more likely to be really careful. So if you ever watched like the par core guys and they just go like crazy fast running over things and you're just like, you're gonna die, but they're way more likely to get hurt if they don't do that. Right. So if they try to take it kind of, you know, if you're running across rooftops, you need to have a little bit of momentum in what you're doing.

I don't recommend that. It seems like a bad idea to me here. When you have a fear of injury, you have like kind of a, an argument between your primitive brain and your more evolved brain. So I have a lot of arguments with my inside my mind when I'm doing certain things like handstands where I'm just like, Oh, I'm gonna fall. And it's like, but you're not gonna really fall very far. So that's my, my primitive brain is like, oh crap, I'm going to fall. This is really terrible. And then my more evolved brains like, but you're not very high so you're probably not going to hurt yourself if you do fall. But I'm like, but then you just have this back and forth and you're trying to get the more evolved brain to win. So what you need is to have lots and lots of good movement memories to pull from your librarian brain to say like, oh, but I did it this way and I didn't fall before and I did this way and it was totally fine.

We talked a little bit already about how acute injuries can be a little bit less scary in a way than um, when you have a chronic injury. So if like you tear your Achilles tendon because you're running up the warped wall in Ninja warrior, you know exactly what you did. And maybe you won't do that before. I'm saying that because my husband who is very injury prone tore his Achilles tendon cause he was doing Ninja Warrior and he ran up the work wall, which is a very steep Dorsey flection exercise. And a lot of people snap their Achilles doing it.

So if you are a Ninja, stretch out your calves on the regular injury can actually become neuroplastic in the brain. And neuroplasticity means that your brain can change based on your life experiences. So when an injury becomes neuroplastic, it means that you have rehearsed something. So many times that you've strengthened the neurons that feed that pathway. So this is where you see people who hold onto a limp after their leg doesn't hurt anymore. Right? So they've done something enough times that it is actually literally changed how their brain works and how they're moved around. Um, and that's definitely like a bad thing when you have fear of a specific exercise.

A lot of times that comes from a previous injury from doing that exact same thing. Right? So you have a memory of an acute injury that happened because you did something. Um, it could be cause something hurts, right. It's like I don't want to do that cause it hurts when I do it in versions or like a big one because when you're upside down you don't really know where you are in space. I think that's the number one thing about upside down. It's like you don't know where my hips, where my feet, what is forward.

Cause I know when you try to accuse somebody and they're upside down, you say move forward and they're like, what's forward? So a lot of times you have to say, move towards me or move away from me or something like that. So move your hips back towards your face or away from your face so that people know literally where they are. Cause unless you're like a gymnast who's upside down all the time, you don't really have a good sense of what upside down is. And then fear of falling, which is one of those fears that you're born with.

You're born with two fear of falling and loud noises. So you can't get rid of fear of falling. That's everyone's gonna have that. And then I'm really about fear of embarrassment, right? So it's not so much like am I going to fall, but what will people think of me if I fall? And we're very, um, as animals you're very into protecting your own self image and how people look at you. So you don't want to be out there, you know, being judged because you weren't, the plot is teacher who could do something.

And I'm sure all [inaudible] teachers that they're completely honest, have exercises they can't do or they do very, very badly. I mean, there are some people out there that you're just like, well, yes, they can possibly do everything, but they're really not the majority. The majority of people have a nemesis exercise or six of them. Um, when we're talking about fear of embarrassment, social shame, inadequacy, things like that are extremely toxic to your self image. And so it is to the same degree that you would protect your life and limb.

You would want to protect your self image, not rationally, but in the primitive brain, the primitive brains all about like protect you and you are also your perception of yourself. I think this is a really,

Chapter 3

Fear of Embarrassment

really fascinating piece of information. Most people's first rejection memory is sports-related. Can anyone, does anyone have a story about that? They remember being rejected and it had anything to do with sports. Abe was nodding, so I'm just going to pick on him. Yeah.

In my first sports or moving then related memory at all. Um, was it gymnastics class when I was five years old? Um, and, and, uh, I don't remember if I was made fun of or if I just, that was in my own head, but I remember failing at something and, um, having like the tremendous urge to click that, which I did. And it's like the biggest thing that I would write, never done. He was talking about being an, uh, five-year-old and in gymnastics class and doesn't remember necessarily people made fun of him or if he just couldn't do something and then he quit, which the, I'll get into that about like when you quit and how you judge you're quitting can tell you whether you should have done it right. So it's like we all have like things that are like, Ugh, I wish I would have done that. Whatever. Does anyone else have a memory of like being rejected fans class, dance class five years old, apparently five years old is the, rather than taking a different dance class with a teacher that wasn't ridiculing and shaming and had that big stick going. Right. You know, I just was like, I'd rather watch a Sunday morning funnies and then right to this day dance class, like dripping sweat. Yeah. So Daria still has, yeah, it's like the reaction, like a via even the idea of dance class where it kind of like turns the whole primitive system on where you're sweating and heart palpitations and everything.

Even the thought of doing something, I know I had like, I have very strong memories of not being picked for teams, you know, as a kid where you're just like, I just, I feel like gym classes just toxic for a lot of, a lot of kids. Like really like many, many, many kids. Um, not that I don't think you should do gym class. I totally think you should do gym class. But w the way they're set up for like team sports, like not everyone's like a team sport kind of person. And if you're like the skinny kid who's picked not last, last, but you know, close to the end and then you with the ball and softball, which to this day, if, if somebody said we're going to go out and play softball, I'd be like, that's a hard pass from me. Like, no, like even if like, even if people are like at the beach and they're like, do you want to play volleyball? I'm always like, nope. Nope, I do not.

I have bad, bad experience volleyball. And what's really interesting that, so this is great book. Um, it's not a new book, um, that had this information yet. It's called body, mind and sport. And it was written by a doctor who's an ayurvedic doctor. His name's Dr John d yard, who is my ayervetic doctor. When I was into that, and um, he talks about different body types and how we're all inherently movers. Right? But the way like gym class and everything is set up, it's set up for a very specific mover. Right. And I was not that person. So I did not enjoy anything exercise-related as a child other than like riding a bike or swimming or things like that.

But no sports until I started playing tennis cause I didn't suck so bad at that. But I definitely had that where I was like, I didn't consider myself an athlete. I'm like, I am not an athletic person. I am like not a strong person. And these are things because I wasn't introduced to physical activities, I would have been probably better at than softball in gym class. My, um, this is actually a picture of me.

I'm the far left closer to the camera. I actually have a fear of embarrassment, stronger than my fear of death. This is like a perfect example of that. So this is the Cheat River in West Virginia on a day that it was running a five plus. So this is the class five rapids also in this boat is the guy I was dating at the time.

This was probably about 15 years ago and I'm maybe not quite 15 years ago, maybe like 12 years ago. Um, anyway, we were on this trip and he was like, let's go whitewater rafting. I didn't know really know anything about Whitewater rafting. I actually didn't know you had to pedal like paddle the board. Did you know this? Like you don't just sit in the thing and just ride down the river.

You actually have to participate. I totally didn't know that. So I'm like in this boat and this re, this rapid right here is literally called the big nasty, that is the name of this rapid. And they were saying how, um, you see the people that are standing on that rock right there. Um, those are some people in the other boats who were running rescue because only two boats out of like eight boats decided to even attempt it. And everyone else did what's called portaging the boats. So they would carry the boat down the side of the river. Well, the thing about being in Whitewater rafting is like there, it really isn't like a path on the side of the river. There's like rocks and a cliff. So, um, our boat person said, well, you know, it is easier to swim than it is to portage, the boat. And so the, my boyfriend is like, OK, well like stay in, there were eight people in the boat before we started going in.

Four of them got out because they were smarter than us and she was talking about like, well, we're probably going to flip the boat. And I'm just sitting there like, I mean, the amount of sweat, which I'm sure did not smell good. That was like pouring out of me at that moment. I'm just like, oh my God. But since my guy who was dating was like, so into doing it, I was just like, I can't not be in this boat because I'm going to be so ashamed. I'm be so embarrassed. And so anyway, we flipped the boat in my greatest moment of hand, eye coordination of my life when we popped up from the thing, I caught the first rope. So I got pulled out like right away. But it was like, I was so full of adrenaline that day. Like I couldn't sleep that night.

I was just, it was an eight hour trip and that wasn't the only experience like that in those eight hours. But the fear of embarrassment can be, it can work with you or against you. Right. Cause you're just like, I, I don't regret trying it. I mean I'm kind of proud of myself for trying it. I'm never doing it again. But I was like really proud that I had had that moment. So, and then I bought the pictures so I can say, look at what I did that one time. That one time I was brave. There is a neuroscience to confidence. Right?

And also to doubt your primitive brain brain is always going to send you stay away warnings. Right? So it's going to be like see that rapid, that does not seem like a good idea. I actually wonder if the guy was dating. We're still friends. I should ask him whether he was freaking out or if it was just me. He'll probably say he wasn't, but he'll be lying. So I don't even know if it's worth, worth asking the question. Um, but when you know you're going to be okay or suspect you're going to be okay, the amount of um, good chemicals that kind of flow through your system, dangerous actually becomes exciting. Right?

And this is actually something you can do with people who are addicts. So generally when people are addicts, they have kind of a not functioning perfectly dopamine reward system and so they don't have the right amount of dopamine floating through their systems. So they end up getting like addicted to cocaine or whatever. I have a friend whose son started doing crack when he was 13, which I can't even fathom. Like how does one get crack? But he was like doing like hardcore drugs and they ended up getting him into adventure sports at as part of his treatment because he was a dopamine junkie and you're just like, feed his addiction in some way that it's like, I mean, he could have like probably killed himself doing like x game kind of stuff, but it was less likely that he's gonna kill himself than what he was doing.

So there are people who are thrill seekers. I'm not one of them, but the people who are thrill seekers generally really want to feed that dopamine system. But the dopamine system is gonna work for everyone. When we talk about shame and judgment, like we have to look a little bit about social comparisons. So I'm, this is where I'm going to tell you some stuff and you're going to be like, God, we're all such terrible people, but it is sort of a a biological necessity. So are being horrible people is a survival mechanism from caveman times. So the social comparison would be that if I walk into a room, I am going to make a snap judgment about everybody in that room based on how they look, whether I think I'm stronger than them. If I'm in a class, whether I think I'm better than them. And that sounds like really horrible and we're always telling people, it's like don't judge yourself based on other people and don't like look at other people. It's really your practice.

It's all about you and ohm Shanti, Shanti. But what actually happens is you make these determinations because primitive you wants to know if you can take that person in a fight, like you want to know that where it's like, okay, if this girl comes after me, am I going to win or am I not going to win? You're also looking at them as saying like, do I like them? Do I want that person to be in my tribe? Like, cause we were, you know, like tribal and we were would make a determination be like, okay, that person could bring this to the tribe, right? So we are always going to be making these social comparisons, um, because it's gonna determine for us our place in society, right?

Social media is a really interesting little thing that's, that's getting bigger and bigger as we're out there. And social media is an interesting thing because it can be a potential motivator depending on, you know, how you respond to these things, but it can also be really discouraging, right? Because you could look at something and see somebody's life that's very curated, right? It's like what I put on social media is I, I mostly put me demoing on my good side, not my ms side, me being successful in an exercise, but sometimes I'll post the screw ups because I people honestly like the screw ups better than I like these successful ones. But you're really like seeing just a small picture into someone's life and there's something called the halo effect that happens. So if I, um, has anybody ever been shocked that someone they knew got a divorce because of what they saw of their life on social media? Like I can think of a couple of people that are just like, hold on, there were all these smiley happy vacation pictures and dinner pictures and wedding pictures and cute little, oh you know, whatever comments and stuff.

And then you find out like all of a sudden there's like kind of nothing and you'd be hurt. While I didn't even really notice until you see a relationship status, it's complicated or relationship status, divorced or status update. I'm finally rid of that guy. And you're just like wait, like, cause the perception I had was that your life was like amazing and there you are riding camels in Dubai and doing whatever and you're actually miserable with each other. Right? And that's because you are having this perception that somebody is putting out there because they want to promote an image of themselves that's not necessarily a hundred percent accurate and might be completely the opposite of what's actually true. So if you're looking at somebody's social media, just always know that you're only seeing the best of the best unless they're one of those people who only post the worst. And those are the those people too. But that's like probably some for some psychologists to do.

There's also this part of your brain, it's called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. And this is a, it's a really interesting part of your brain that lights up when you, when someone else gets kicked down a notch. So this is, yeah, this is like not good to know, but like if you see somebody fall from grace, your brain without your rationed, reasonable, kindhearted control is doing cartwheels that you actually like. Your perception is that you went up a social notch because they went down a social notch and you don't actually even have to know them. Right? So if you're a, I'm the example I read was about if you're a cyclist, like if you're a competitive cyclist and you saw Lance Armstrong get busted for doping, him getting busted for doping, even if you're not good, you're just like, well, there you go. I could be a lance Armstrong if I would have doped, even though you can't because you know, there's obviously some, a lot of training and a lot of other things going on there.

But you have this moment where you're just like, well, see, I'm like, I moved up a little bit. So yes, we're horrible, but we're all horrible. So we're kind of all in this together. It's very hard to beat fear. And that's because like I said earlier, the signals are going to travel from your senses to your primitive brain five times faster than the rational brain can get to them. And bad memories are going to encode much more strongly than good memories.

And so you have to put in so much good stuff in success and whatever to get over that one thing that you're scared of and it does take effort, right? So it's like if you're scared of spiders and you're just cool with that, then that's fine. I'm like you can go through life perfectly fine being scared of spiders. I would say if you have like heart palpitation level, panic attack, fear, you might want to work on it. But if it's just like, I would like to never encounter, like I would like to never encounter a snake ever, that would be good with me. But if I do encounter saying I'm probably not, it's going to be like what?

A couple more times in my life. And so I don't really need to introduce snakes to myself so that I can work on my fear level around steaks. I mean, that's not something I care about. Um, but if you do manage to beat fear, it actually has like a pretty significant value. So the value is, first of all, um, know that it's rational, rational fear protects us, but irrational fear actually keeps us from doing things, keeps us from trying things. That leads us to a more, um, a smaller life. Right? So it's like if you're fear full of social situations, do you not do things because you're so worried about being judged? Like I am a like hardcore introvert. Like I don't like social situations. I, I came to this realization, um, probably well into my thirties that I don't like live music events.

Like I just don't like them. There are too many people and I just assumed not go to them. And that wasn't, that's not so much a social anxiety fear thing. It's just a, I'm an introvert. So I would rather be at home bingeing a Netflix show, then I would be out with that many people. But if I would say I am an introvert, therefore I never want to do social things, that would be limiting myself. Right. So you would want to introduce those things.

I find that when you overcome fear, it's almost like working on working a muscle. Like fear is a muscle that you can work and that when you overcome one fear, you're more likely to try to overcome other fears. Right. So I feel like, um, just the nature of having a chronic illness, if I spend a lot of time thinking about it, that's a really scary thing. So I tend to do things like, I like to introduce myself to other things I'm scared of to prove to myself that I can handle those things. Or it's just like I regret that I never learned to do x.

Do I regret it enough to try to learn to do it at this point? Maybe yes, maybe no. So the things that I say I regret, I didn't learn to do those things. Maybe I would go after them. You need to frame your language correctly. So a lot of times people say like, oh, I can't do x. So if you can frame it more like, well, I haven't done it yet. Like if I say I can't do a handstand, it's like, well I haven't done a 32nd handstand hold in the middle of the room yet.

Or, um, I haven't figured out how to do that thing that I want to do.

Chapter 4

Conquering Fear

So if you want to conquer a fear, there is kind of a scientific way to go about it. The first, and I think one of the most important things to to do is to fail better. So if you are doing something and you're just like, okay, I'm going to try to learn, I'm going to do handstand as an example, and I'm just going to kick up to the wall and kick up to the wall. I'm gonna kick up to the wall and we kick up to the wall. And You keep doing that over and over and over again.

You have created a procedural memory, which is that really quick to access memory of how to do something. And if you never can land it, you're probably doing something wrong. Right? So how do you learn to do that better? Like can you fail in a different way? You also want to be able to name the fear.

So is my fear doing a handstand? To be specific, my fear is not an inversion. Like I'm totally cool doing candlesticks and walkovers and walk off ladder barrels and anything like that. I just hand stand is the one for me. That is my fear exercise. Um, so the perceived threat is handstand, general big concept. The real threat is am I going to fall on my head? Right?

Am I going to fall and hurt my something? That's the fear is falling and hurting myself. So that's what the core fear is. So then you have to break something down into actionable, achievable, concrete goals, right? So I always save to small bite something. So if you can figure out what are all the components of doing something, like how can you break that down into things that you can work on and figure out. So we'll talk about five specific exercise. Hands. Handstand will be one of them, but we're going to break it down into things that it's like, what do you actually need to be able to do that thing that you might find a little bit scary? Um, I was watching while I was working on this, um, program, I was watching a Chris Rock, um, comedy show on Netflix and he said something that I really liked. He said, pressure, not hugs makes diamonds. And I was like, I, that's kind of thing that's kind of cute because it's like you do have to put yourself in these pressure situations where you're not really coddled, right. Where you are literally facing your fear to actually overcome it.

Right. If you, if it's, if people are too nice, you're kind of not ever going to get there. Next one I would say is refer to the tape. Um, I am really big on having my camera phone, um, when I'm working with a client on something, like an inversion to if I need to spot them in it to record them because a lot of times they'll think their hips are stacked and their hips aren't stacked or that they're leaning too far this way. And if you can show it to them, which I think is sometimes better than a mirror, you can show them and we literally can rewind and it can be like, okay, see how on this one you did, it's slightly this way that you could correct it so that okay, next time we know that you need to get your hips a little bit more forward. And I just think it's faster to do it that way as opposed to trying to tell people who can't feel like necessarily where they are, like where they are. Um, it's also cool to see your own progress. Um, next thing is to bring in the experts. So when I wanted to work on handstands, I went to a gymnastics trainer instead of a [inaudible] person because I'm like, gymnastics people, they've got a handstand, right? So it's like nobody has a handstand, like gymnastics. People have an stance.

So I was like, I want to go and see how they teach it because I want to see what they would do differently. And like basically I had more of a handstand than I did after I went to him because he basically was like, everything you're doing is wrong. So we're going to like relearn it from the beginning and know that, um, the pro might be outside of the discipline that you're in. So it might be a psychological thing, right? It might be, you have such a strong fear that you need to really uncover what the fear is because you might not be able to name it. And if you can't name it, you can't work on it. Um, other movement professionals and then sometimes body workers. So it's like, if your limitation is that you have such tight shoulders that you can't get your arm by your ear, well then you're never going to have like a properly balanced handstand. So if you can't exercise your way into that mobility, is it a bodywork thing?

Is it like working with someone who's like a physiatrist or something? Um, and easy one is breathe through your nose so your body doesn't actually know the breathing through your mouth isn't gasping. So when people breathe through their mouth, you're, it makes your, um, whole, um, primitive brain go on, like kind of overdrive. Cause it's like, it could be a bear, right? It could be a bear. So when people run, run, a lot of people a mouth breathe when they run, but if they can actually learn to breathe through their nose, a lot of times people's running gets a lot better because they can actually calm themselves down. Right? So then it just becomes a, I'm told a more enjoyable thing as an avid non runner. I don't know. Um, another thing you want to do is you want to externalize the fear. So you're not the fear, you're not the failure. It's not like I am weak, I am a scaredy cat. I am one of those things. Um, you have to describe the problem separate from the person.

So the problem is not, the judgment is not like I can't do a handstand. The more correct thing is like I need to get better shoulder mobility so that I can find my balance in a hand balancing kind of position. And then you also really want to create opportunities for success. So the more small successes you can add to the librarian brain, the quicker and more easily you can access them. So I know at this point that if I'm doing a supported handstand, I'm not scared of it at this point.

I still can't do a handstand in the middle of the room. Like that's, it's my 2017 goal became my 2018 goal because I just didn't get it, but I had had enough successes at it that it like, it's something I still want to try to work on. Um, you need to like figure out what you need to get there. So I know what I need to get there. I know what I don't have. Like I'm told by friends of mine who teach a lot of handstands that one of these days I'm like, I'm at the precipice of when it's going to click and I'm just not there yet and someday I'll get there or I won't. Um, and know that success is going to breed desire because the more you're successful at something and the more you're going to pump your body full of both dopamine and testosterone, which are both things that make you want to do something more than once. Um, I do think you should set deadlines and ask questions. So a deadline would be deciding to do something now as in like right now, right this second, if it's something you're scared of, eliminates your evolved brain from having a detailed discussion with your other brain about is this really a good idea or not? It's like, just do it. Right. So I remember the first time I went rock climbing, like in rock climbing gym.

My sister, who's a very, very good rock climber, she was like, okay, you need to fall. And I'm like, oh no, nope. I'm going to be just holding on to this like fake rock and I'm just going to stay here. And she's like, no, you need to just fall right now because you need to know what it feels like because then you can be, you'll be much safer. So I was just like, oh shit. And then I just like went down and I was like, oh, that's like sitting, like it was totally fine. Like I was like, that wasn't like that big of a deal. Um, but you have to do it that second because I was just like, you know, holding onto this rock shaking, trying to figure out my next move. But like, you're gonna fall. So you need to know what that's going to feel like. Deadlines can also help keep a goal under your control. So if you say, I want to have this by this date, then you can figure out like, what do I need to do? Like, I need to practice this regularly. So if you say, I want to have a handstand by the end of the year, like if you're not practicing it, you're not going to get it.

And then we talked a little bit about this earlier where you were talking about the gymnastics class that you got laughed at or whatever and you quit. If you quit, how does that make you feel? And if it makes you feel bad and you feel like regretful, then you probably shouldn't have, right? Because that's the thing that's telling you like, oh, you cared about that. Like I have definitely got stuff that I was into at one point that I'm not into now and I don't regret stopping because it wasn't an important thing for me.

But if I was doing something, I was just like, no, because I had a bad experience that might not have been the right decision if I'm, if I'm not feeling it worth it to come out of it. I am very big fan of having an exit strategy. So one of the things I do is I teach people how to fall in certain exercises because I want to know how I'm going to get out of something. So I have a trainer that I work with and we had this idea one day that we were going to do this thing called a Chinese handstand and Chinese handstand has, you have your hands on the floor, like in regular handstand. And the only other point of contact is that your toes are touching like a bar.

And the idea of doing it that way is that you have to push, really push into your shoulders to really elongate yourself so that your toes can reach the bar. But the way his studio was set up there, nothing low enough for me to reach that would be like a bar that I could like bring my feet on too. So he wanted to use this pull up bar. So what he did was he got out two boxes that were like maybe like a two or three feet foot high box. So he was like, okay, so your feet will be on this box in your hands, will be on this box and you'll, he's like, I'll help you and you're going to kick up and then you'll reach your feet up to this thing. And I'm like, okay, but how am I getting down? And that was like my immediate thing was like, how am I getting out of this? Because just coming out of it, like I would normally come out of it where you just bend a knee and bring a foot to the floor was not going to necessarily end correctly when I'm on a box and having to hit a target of another box. And he was like, I will help you down the entire time. And um, my trainer is huge. Like he can bicep curl me. Um, and he's also very flexible and very like good at everything and I have complete trust in him cause I've worked with him forever.

But I had a absolute freak out during this exercise. Like where I had been doing handstands with him for like, you know, a good amount of time and just this slightly different thing. I went into that full primitive brain, like you are not safe. And I just like, I need to calm down, I need to calm down, I need to come down. And then we didn't do that one again, but we might come back to it. But it was really important to me to have this exit strategy that I knew before I was going to get into something. How was I going to get out of it?

Because you need to know how you're going to get up. Okay. And then you want to be objective. So I think one of the worst things that has happened in society is participation trophies. And um, the reason that I think participation trophies are so detrimental is, you know, you're bad at it, right? So if you get a participation trophy cause you were on the swim team or whatever and you came in last place, you know, you came in last place and wouldn't it be much better for your psyche and your personal development to get a trophy and something you're actually good at. Right. So I never got a sports trophy ever in my entire life, but I got and I also didn't come from the age that she would have gotten a participation trophy because we just didn't play that game. But we um, had things like academic awards.

So I got academic awards, I got awards for art, I got awards for the things I'm actually good at, in which case your brain does know the difference. And like just giving somebody a trophy for showing up. Um, sort of like perfect attendance. I always wondered what like really like is that a goal you have? I'm like you never did school ever. Like kind of a strange thing to, to get. Um, but when you are looking at yourself in terms of movement, you really need to be very objective about who you are. Cause you do know, but you also tell yourself stories that aren't true. Um, you need to understand too that not every physical body can do every physical move. So one of the exercises we're going to talk through is tendon stretch. And I had shown on Instagram this tendon stretch variation that I like, which I'll teach today. And I had somebody say, well what if you have somebody who has really tight hamstrings and they can't stand up on the thing and I'm like not their exercise. And they're like, well would you modify that? And I'm like, nope. I've just, I don't think that's their exercise.

I think there's plenty of other ways to get into a very similar movement, a very similar feel in their body, but that might not be like the correct exercise for them. Um, and then you need to know what are the building blocks for a particular movement. So where do you need strength, where do you need mobility, where do you need stability? And, um, what are the obstacles that you have in actually getting there? Cause there might be an obstacle that's really easy to fix. So it's like, oh, I can't do that because I'm scared of this one thing. And it's like, okay, well if I take that one thing away, can you do that, that exercise that we're talking about? So if I look at myself objectively, objectively, I weigh 115 pounds on my left foot completely objectively, does not move past 90 degrees of Dorsey flection. And that's like an ms thing. Um, I can bench press roughly 80 pounds. I can deadlift my weight, I can hold by my hands for a minute. That's actually an important one.

If you are doing some of the different inversions on the Cadillac, if you can't hold your weight by your hands for 10 seconds, you can't safely do that exercise, right? So that's not your exercise. Um, and then objective Lee, I am not an inverter. Like I didn't do cartwheels or handstands or any of those things ever in my entire life. So I would say I'm kind of a new person. But if you write out like what you think of yourself as a mover, you can actually see where you start to put judgment into things. So if I just wrote this out just like super fast because I wanted to see what I would end up writing and I put my left leg doesn't work right. I have tight hamstrings, I have pretty strong arms.

I've gotten better at overhead arm strength, but still need to improve my mobility. Ever since my ab surgeries, I can't do neck polar overhead. When I was a kid, I wasn't athletic but I really liked tennis. I like hanging in versions, but I think handstands are scary. I'm worried I'm going to fall on my head. Kicking up is the part that scares me. If you get me into a handstand position, I'm not as scared as I used to be. And then what you go is you go through and you look at what those judgements are and then you analyze whether or not they're true. So my left leg doesn't work right. That is actually true. Um, I do have tight hamstrings, but relatively, you know, we always compare ourselves. Like a lot of times we're comparing ourselves to these ballet dancers and I'm like, Yep, died totally have tight hamstrings next to that person.

But next to Joe's Schmoe on the street, I probably have super loose hamstrings. Um, I do need to have better overhead arm mobility. Um, where I say ever since my abs surgeries, I can't do neck polar overhead. Honestly, I haven't really worked that hard at trying to get them back. So I probably could if I put any real effort into just saying like, okay, for a couple of weeks I'm really gonna work on doing neck pull and overhead, but I don't like them very much. So I haven't really put a lot of effort into them.

So whether I can say my ab strength has been really detrimentally affected at this point so far out for my surgeries, probably not true. Probably just have lost the muscle memory to do those things. Um, I judged myself as not athletic, but I'm a [inaudible] teacher so I'm probably a little bit more athletic than I think I am. I'm hanging in versions. I do like handstands are not as scary as they used to be, so they're still my fearful exercise. Um, my fear part of it is that I'm going to fall on my head. So putting me in a position where I can't fall is the thing that helps me feel safer. Um, I don't like kicking up. So my goal has always been to get a press handstand because I think if you can take away the momentum, which is that out-of-control part.

So it's like if you can take away the part where I feel out of control, then I feel like it's an achievable exercise for me. So I don't want the, that out-of-control feeling. So if you look at yourself, all of you who are here as like objective movers, what are things that you, objective we can say are true about you and then what our perceptions of what you are as a mover. Keto, can you think off the top of your head? Like objectively? So like objectively I've worked with you, so I know objectively you're very flexible. So what would be a perception that you have of yourself as a mover that may or may not be true as an athlete? Okay. She doesn't think of herself as an athlete, even though she's a dancer, which I would say is one of the hardest forms of athleticism. Okay. She avoids tendon stretch.

So clearly she's going to be doing 10 instruction today. Um, so 10 instruction hanging exercises that she doesn't like them. So it's like if you don't like them, you tend to avoid doing them because you don't feel like you're as good at them, but then you're not as good at them because you don't do them. I do like them and you like them when you do them. And that's actually really important. So a lot of times the things that you don't like, especially if you manage to do it and you're successful at it, then you feel like super bad ass because you're just like, oh, I did that thing that I don't like. What about you?

Okay, so sh so Juliana had some vertigo, um, which is a very natural thing. So that's a fear. That's like a Kinesiophobia, right? It's like a legitimate thing happened. So cervical compression and kind of inverting things. Aaron. Okay. So that is, she doesn't trust, she doesn't trust her left shoulder.

And I think that's actually something that's really common. When somebody had an injury, you're like, you don't have faith in that body part anymore. And also when you get older, there was this meme, I think we posted on the, on my studio's page that said you get to an age where your body parts are like, yeah, I'm actually, let's like figure out if we're going to do that anymore because your body is just like, I don't like Jay. I'm just really into that. And I'm not even, not so much into that. So Daria, what about, I know I'm not coordinated but it's actually not that I'm not for, it's longer to, I have to understand, you have to try to stay ahead in the coordination and then practice it. Like when everyone else is like just doing it. I'm still trying to figure out, okay, slow. So Daria feels like she's slow on the uptake of like coordination movement, right? There's a disconnect. So she had a bad back injury. And so when you have a bad back injury that, I mean, back pain is so terrible. Like I, like I said, I had it that one time and I'm like, oh my God, I hope I never have that again.

But it was, you know, probably so I could be more empathetic when other people have back pain because it was so like disabling, like it was really like you don't trust your body, you're just like, oh it went, it was so bad when I did this one thing and then you just don't ever want to feel like that again. So went from gun Lita like can't do anything. Right. Yeah. And so she was saying how you transition from like being gumby and you can do everything to where you're just like, I'm like an old person who can't bend over and touch my knees April about you. Um, I've always been just really weak with any thoracic back pain or back extension. This is hysterical. So Abe is saying he's really bad with thoracic extension.

If you watch the latter on the tower video we shot, he did an amazing thoracic back then. The first one is really his first one, but it's like we practiced it a little bit, but it was like the pressure like, and it is kind of one of those things that if you put, if you put you out there like can you do it when you put yourself out there? Interesting. Because, because it's something I've consistently felt weekend. Yeah. See fear of embarrassment. I never ever practice it and he doesn't practice it cause he's afraid he's going to be embarrassed and I made him do it on video. So then it was just like, then you have to do the thing that you're scared of. So let's say you are working on getting through a fear. What you want to do is have a habit loop, right?

So how can you make yourself work on that thing? So if Keto wants to work on the 10 the Badass tendon stretch where you have your foot go out to the side and then go backwards, you can practice with you. I think because you're going to be totally able to do it. A variation where you're working on the release because I think the release is like, it kind of terrifying. Um, but I have a way that's like totally not terrifying, so we'll do it in the non terrifying way, but you have to have some sort of a cue in how we're reward loops work of what it is that you're going to do. So, um, when I teach, like, especially if I'm teaching on like video and I don't completely plan out my classes, my cue for like we are now in performance mode is I do bridging, like I teach bridging because I teach it all the time and it's not like I have to think about it. Right. It's like, it's not like the choreography is in any way challenging to cue. Um, because that sets me in the, we're in this place. When I go into doing a handstand, I very much have a preference because of the way my trainer is.

He has a gymnastic studio, so it's actually a gymnastics mat floor and it's squishy and I don't like squishy. I want it to be wood. So he actually brings out like this little wood thing and if he doesn't bring out the wood thing, I'm like, we don't have the wood thing, like you're gonna make me do this without like having the wood thing because I'm like, it's totally the same exercise, but for some reason it's like it has like hand prints on it because so many people in standard on it that it literally can see where the hands are. And I'm like, well, I don't know where to put my hands with my hands are like on that thing. And then you do the routine that you just get used to practicing. And then the reward for this habit is you get that little hit of dopamine, so you're just like, Ooh, I want to do that again.

So that's why you're enjoying the exercises you don't enjoy, right, because you're like, Ooh, I did it. Like you get that little hit. We're basically just drug dosing people with like, we're basically just drugging people to get them to do stuff. Um, when I decided I really wanted to work on inversions, um, I actually started a Hashtag on Instagram, which is flip over Friday. So every Friday I post a picture of me doing some sort of inversion, which makes me have to shoot in versions for Instagram all the time, which has really vastly improved my inversion practice because I'm always thinking like, oh, I gotta go get some stuff for Instagram, got to get some stuff for Instagram. So these are all just different ones that I've done. Some of them are handstand, some of them run the ladder barrels, some of them are on the chair and they're just all different places that I was playing around with working on inversions. And I think that it really made me accountable because it was my hashtag that I started and then other people have joined into it and I'm like, Oh, I have to post something.

And it's also really given me a lot of good ideas because other people post stuff and I'm like, Ooh, I'm going to try that or I'm going to like go after that. And I don't know if you know on Instagram how you can save videos. So I always look through videos that are plot these things and I save stuff and I'm often saving stuff that I'm like, I will never look like that. I will never be that strong. But it's all like really cause I want to do that.

Go to the tape and like really watch it slowly and try to figure out what they're doing, where their hands are. I posted this one, um, if it's in there, um, where I've flipped over on, um, you can put Cadillac, um, push through bar and if you set it high enough you can do kind of weird flips on it. And I, it was one of those things I had seen on Instagram and I just couldn't get it right. Couldn't get it right and could get right. But I was like, it doesn't seem scary to me. It just seems like technique. And I just kept going back to the tape and be like, wait, where are they doing? Where are her feet? Where her hands, how high is the bar? And so I posted that one and then I posted the next day, the five failures of me doing it. And I had actually completely given up trying it. Um, but then I did, I shot some other stuff and it gives you that little hit of dopamine that you succeeded in doing those other things. And then I went back and I was like, okay, I'm going to try it again.

And then I got it that one time that I tried it. Um, so what you need if you're going to work on your fear things is you need a desire that's stronger than your fear, right? You need to like care enough that you're going to say I'm going to work on this thing. Um, you need what my mom would've called sticktuitiveness right. Are you gonna like go out there and keep trying something. Um, you need to acknowledge the fear and dissect it so you can figure out what are my sticking points. Cause your sticking points might not be my sticking points. Cause one of the exercises I'm going to go over today, I don't find that exercise scary. And I don't think I ever did find that exercise scary, but other people find it scary, um, understand the process and then break it down into these little micro goals.

So a micro goal might be learning a position that can then translate to another position. Um, and then that's basically where we're doing that dopamine dosing. So you're doing a little success to give you that little hit of dopamine that's gonna make you want to keep doing something. And then, um, I would say a good coach, um,

Chapter 5

Overview of Exercises

we're going to talk about, um, for the rest of this, we're going to go through five exercises, a completely unscientific poll that I just went onto one of the plots forums and just said, okay, what are exercises you find scary? And it was plot these teachers. So then I went back and I said, what are exercises your clients find scary? Because a lot of people were like, oh, control, balanced, step off on the cat, on the reformer. And I'm like, well, yeah, but who do you teach that to? Like nobody's. So, um, that one was one that I was like, I don't really want to go through that because really it's not, a lot of people are doing it anyway. One of them, which this is the one that I never thought was scary, but a lot of people do find security is long stretch. So it's when you're in that kind of plank on the reformer and you have that like face plant moment where you're going over the foot bar and you're just like, I'm going over the football, I'm going over the football. Where's the stopper? Where's the stopper? Where's the stopper?

And I find that people either bend their knees, lift their hips up or sag in their back or just bend their elbows or just don't even bring it in all the way. So we're going to break that down. And what you need for that is you need strength. You need to have your shoulders be strong enough in your core to be strong enough that you can make that movement. But forward movement and keeping everything under control, you need to have some shoulder mobility that you can come a little bit into extension. So if you have like a shoulder injury, obviously not your exercise, um, you need to have the stability of your core strength. And another thing is that really does help is having your legs really be engaged and your legs come squeezing together and being on fire.

The exercises we're going to do for this one are, um, it's right there in plotty. So like pull up on the mat, um, that's the lift your legs, shift your weight forward and back. So you kinda get used to that forward back thing. Um, we're going to do an inclined plank on the foot bar where you have weight shifts, right? So it's like, it's just a more controlled thing. And then we're going to do it with springs on your feet from like the tower because I liked that because it pulls you forward in a way that's a little bit harder to control. Um, and then we're gonna gear out the carriage so you don't have to come in as far. And then we'll keep it from going out too far cause like sometimes people go way too far and they feel like it's scary and then we'll do that where it's geared out and unblocked and then play around playing around with weight. Like I know for me, um, a lot of times it's like a teacher would give you the standard weight. Um, which would be two full springs and two full springs makes me feel like I'm going to be flying over the foot bar.

So where a lot of people would want that heavier weight cause it feels more supportive, that heavier weight feels like I'm out of control. Like I can't control the carriage. So I actually like a lighter weight. The next one we'll talk about is tendon stretch. You need to have strength, right? So you need to have strong enough shoulders and a strong enough core.

You need to have hamstring flexibility, right? Because your hands, you're kind of in a forward fold. Your hands are reaching back behind you. You need to have shoulder extension. So, and it's a pretty extreme shoulder extension that some people don't have, especially with your hands as narrow as some of the foot bars are. And then shoulders stability. And so what we'll do is we'll do the 10 and start how you do it on the mat so you can get that feeling of abs lifting up. We're going to do a stand up with the lock to carriage, which is actually the way I always teach new people where you just work on the standing up part and then you're going to stand up and make sure your weight really is in your toes to where you can bring your hands to the mat.

And this is where I'll work with Kate on the release and we're going to do it with the carriage locked. So you're not going to go flying, it's just going to work on the release. And then I'm doing a small range of motion with the carriage blocked so it can't really move out. Um, a smaller range of motion with an open carriage. And then the starting seated with your legs all the way straight and working on the lift to come up the pullup or pike on the one to chair. Um, this is actually one that freaks me out more as a teacher that people are going to do the thing that I find is the most common screw up, which is people bending their knees when they get scared, which is just gonna Pitch Your weight right, the chair. It's like the exact wrong thing to be doing, but you need to have core and shoulder strength, um, hamstring mobility.

So you need to be flexible enough that your lights can be straight, um, stability by having your weight over your shoulders and keeping your legs long. So we're going to work on just, um, where you're kind of in a plank and you pull it up into a pike with just dragging a towel on the floor. So I think that one works well doing a press up without even being on the pedal. So getting that idea of just pushing, really pushing into your arms and engaging your core and then blocking the shoulders. I actually always start people out on too light of a wait for them because I find if you start people out on too light of a weight and they can't get up, that's actually more successful than starting on a such a heavy weight that they freak out with it going up too quick. I'm there.

We're going to walk over candlestick kind of variations, um, which you really need grip strength here. And this is where I say some people just don't have the right um, strength to do this exercise because if you can't do hanging back, like that'd be sort of the prep exercise for this. It's not your exercise, right? It's like you don't want to have somebody be unsafe. They need to have good back and hip extension. Um, shoulder mobility, core control and then understanding of inverted alignment, um, which is can be very disorienting. And then, um, arm length to body length because sometimes if you want somebody to do on all the way walk over and they're really short, they're going to have to fall like literally just like let go and fall, which is not safe. So that case you could use a box. And then, um, so we'll do some prep exercises for that. And then final is hand stand and for handstand you need to have strength in the upper traps and shoulders. And I do think there is a thing in the [inaudible] world where we're so focused on shoulder depression that we don't develop proper upper arms, upper trap strength. Um, you need to have shoulder, wrist and hamstring mobility, hamstring if you're going to do a press up because you need to be able to really send your weight forward. Um, shoulder and arm stability and other things are inverted alignment and we're just going to do a bunch of the different exercises for that.

So, um, that's, we're gonna do now. Does anyone have questions on the basic stuff that we overviewed all ready? Nope. Okay. Well people at who are watching at home have questions. You can just write them in the comment section and I will hopefully get those and get back to you.

Chapter 6

Long Stretch

So if you want to work on your long stretch, really, it's already exists in plots, mat work as a preparatory exercise.

So we're going to come into essentially a plank position. So a front support and hands under your shoulders. Go ahead and step your legs back into a plank. And a couple of things you want to find. First you want to really protract your shoulder blades.

So you're pushing the floor nice length and low back. Then you're going to shift forward. So coming like pushing through your toes so your weight shifts forward. And then go ahead and reach your heels, pushing your weight back through your heels, trying to maintain that protracted shoulder position. Go ahead and shift forward and then pull yourself back. Good. And you can always do single leg, which is obviously the classical Claudia's way to do it. But even just doing these weight shifts gets you accustomed to having your shoulders go over your wrists. And ultimately I think it's easier to do it when you come to the reformer because your wrists don't have to be quite this extreme of a bend.

And then you can go ahead and just drop down to your knees. Okay. So after you've done like a plank where you're working on shifting your weight forward on the Mat, you can actually add a little bit of a challenge by adding spring way to it. So Juliana is going to come over. We're going to have her step her feet into the straps, um, which are pretty low because she's actually gonna come into a plank on the floor and she wants her head not to be too close. So go ahead and just do a forward fold so that you can bring your hands down to the floor and then walk your hands back.

I would say actually a little bit further and then just walk yourself out into a plank. Okay. So push through your heels. Try to lift up a little bit here. Good. So push through your heels and then shift your weight forward. So the springs are kind of pushing you forward, shift your weight back and then pull forward. How does that feel? It's a little weird, right? It's hard.

It's like this doesn't look like it'd be hard. It's actually pretty hard to control because the springs wants you to go this way, which sort of mimics how the carriage, when it's weighted, wants to pull you forward. But like, um, she could come for it and just literally tap her head on here and that's going to stop her. So it's not as intimidating of an exercise to start in this position. You can go ahead and lift your hips up and just walk your feet in and then slowly make your way all the way up to sandy and then gracefully exit the springs sort of being key. Okay. So the first exercise we're going to go over is long stretch. And the um, a little caveat, this is a locking foot bar.

So if you have a classic reformer that does not have a locking foot bar, this is not a good idea. So first thing we're going to do is just work on a weight shift where we're removing the moving carriage from the equation entirely. So Aaron's going to go ahead and put her hands down and just step her feet back into, actually come even closer. So you're in a really short plank and then go ahead and rock forward on your toes that your weight is shifting forward and then bring your weight back. I'd actually step in even a little bit further because you want to create that sensation of that little bit of fear of face plants, which I think is what people have when they're worried about this exercise.

So weight shifting forward and shifting back and she's doing a really nice job of keeping all this kind of contained, um, because what you see a lot of times as people start into their back, so let's say she's comfortable at this level, then we're going to start working on the reformer. So the first thing I'm going to do is make it so that the carriage doesn't come so far forward that you have that kind of face plant situation. So I'm just going to gear this out. I'm probably actually going to start with a geared out twice. So that's two hours. So when she's in a plank, she's probably only going to be shoulders over wrists.

So it's not going to be scary at all. I have two boxes. So the way that this reformer works, you can't, um, it doesn't really have the wood stoppers that like a classic reformer has. So you can actually work on putting more than one box in so that if she was going to go back, the carriage now can only go back this far. And I'm actually gonna double that up. So it's only going to be able to go back a little bit back into the wells.

So that's as far back as it's going to be able to go. So it's really gonna hit right there and it's already geared out. So this is like as beginner as I can conceivably make it. So if you want to come over and go ahead and, and get on the reformer, and I have it right now in a red blue, which I find is the place you're gonna end up standing up on the reformer. I find it's the place for me and probably for her weight that's gonna feel the best. So you can go ahead and come forward. So that's where the stopper is.

So right now she's shoulders directly over wrists. And then push back and then come forward. So she's not really able to go very far. I've like removed some of the scary parts because it's not a big movement. So does that feel all feels okay? Go ahead. And we're going to step down.

And so now what I'm gonna do is I'm going to gear it in one closer, so still with the blocks so she can't go back, but so far. And then at this point her shoulders will end up being slightly over her wrists. Okay. So same exercise and she has her feet kind of far forward with her feet on the shoulder, blacks. But you see how here it's a little bit more over. So if she, if this was an exercise that scared her, be a little bit scarier.

How does that feel? Good. Okay. So we're going to bring it all the way in. Um, so one more in which is as close in as we're going to get. I swear I have changed reformer before. Okay. And then go ahead and come back and we'll try that one more time. And then hips can be down. And then you're gonna push out good and then come forward.

And this is usually where people start to lose it. So I would a little hands on, I would do is one hand on both sides. So it's kind of a push. It's this push and pull at the same time so that she could push out and then come forward. And I probably honestly wouldn't want her to go further back than she's going anyway. So I think that that's like a nice guide, but if you want to start to challenge them do, then you would obviously remove the boxes from that situation and then you can go ahead and step down. Thank you. That was awesome.

Chapter 7

Tendon Stretch

If you are prepping for tendon stretch on the reformer and maybe they don't have it yet cause maybe they don't have the hamstring flexibility, you can always do it as a mat exercise. So bring your hands a little bit behind you and wider than your hips cause you're going to need space for your butt to go through.

You're going to start by pressing into your feet, pushing into your hands and lifting your knees forward a little bit so your buck comes off. Good. Pull your abs in a lot. Imagine I've got a belt pulling you back and shift your weight. You're going to come onto your heels. Try Not to let your hips touch and then go ahead and come forward. I'm Daria.

I actually want you to step your feet back a little bit so that when you go back, your hips are behind you. So we'll do that again. So go ahead and lifting up, pull back. So imagine I'm lifting you back much better and then go ahead and come forward. It's harder than almost, right. Do a couple more like this. So you want to get that sense of really engaging your shoulders, really pulling your abs in and lengthening your low back as you're moving back.

And one more cause they're hard, so you don't necessarily want to do too many of these. Good, nice. And then go ahead and come forward and have a seat. So that would be a good place to start. If somebody hasn't done 10 to stretch before, just to get the sense of what you're doing before you take it onto the reformer or the chair. Okay. So Katie's favorite exercise? Not at all.

She said she's already having like heart palpitations and everything, especially cause we have the camera rolling so that's always extra fun. Um, so we're going to do some tendon stretch preps that I like to work with people. This carriage is like locked, like I can't move it at all. It's every spring that could be on is on. Um, so you're gonna start by just coming around and stepping onto the carriage and then you can go ahead and just start with a seat on the foot bar. Again, this is a careful with knowing your foot bar and where your foot bar is. Go ahead and walk your feet back. So you want to be on the balls of your feet and you want to be able to drop your heels down. And the first thing I want you to do is just stand up.

And she has the, what I consider the precursor requirements, which is loose enough hamstrings that she can be in this position and, and really pretty decent, um, hip flexion and extension. So go ahead and you can have a seat back down. That was like totally fine, right? Totally fine. Okay, so next what we're gonna do is I want you to stand back up, keep your arms straight because I think that you are so flexible that bending your elbows is actually gonna make the exercise scarier so your arms straight stand yourself up. And I want her weight to be so comfortably forward into the balls of her feet that she can reach a hand down and touch the mat and then bring your hand back. She's so flexible. Reach the other hand down, touch the mat and then bring it back. So, and this is what I do just so people know that when they come back up to standing, this is what they should feel like. They should feel like literally they're just standing on their feet. Okay, go ahead and you can have a seat back down.

We had talked about the scary version where you release a new, send a leg out to the side carriage is totally in place. What you're going to do is when you stand up, we're just going to work on the, your hands start to the outside. You're gonna release. But what I want you to do is just bring your hand forward. We're not going to do the release yet, but I want you to keep your arm completely straight and just bring it forward and touch the inside of your legs. Bring it forward and touch the inside of your legs.

And then we'll switch to the other side. And then we're going to add the leg on. So looking down, reach your arm straight forward, go to the inside tap and go out and then switch. So this is actually a much smoother movement than a lot of people end up doing when they start to work on the leg release. Because what they start to do is bend their elbow and then you get tangled up. So if your arm just stays straight and you think about it's a lift forward, hit down in the middle and come back, it's going to be a smoother thing.

So you're just going to add onto that. So as your arm lifts out, you're just gonna quick, take your foot out to the side and then you end up in the right position and then you can kind of come out of it. Okay, so I'm shoots forward, leg goes out, there you go. And then it comes back and arm goes back, arm goes forward, shoot your leg out, and then you come back and arm comes back. All good stuff. And it's like also good because the carriage is not moving. So we have not done anything that's even like remotely terrifying yet. So what is the spring weight that you generally like to do? This exercise on red or red and a yellow.

Okay, so we can do, let's do a red yellow because I think it's a little bit more supportive. Um, so we're going to be red, yellow, and we're going to take the other springs off. And I want you to just remember how you came into it. I'm going to stand here, so I'm going to keep the carriage from going out very far. So literally I'm going to let it come out a couple of inches and that's it. So I also think letting people know what they're going to be doing is really helpful. So just stand yourself up. Same thing that you were doing before. I'm holding the carriage. So I'm going to let the carriage go a little bit.

Really push through your heels. You're gonna push it out a couple of inches. Stand yourself right back up. Good. So push down through your heels, really push through your heels, go out and then come right back up. We'll do two more like that. Reach out. Good. Come right back up. Really pulling through your abs. Good. Imagine I've got a belt around your waist and that belt is pulling you up and she's doing a really good job.

Sometimes people send their butt a little bit too far back and you want to keep it kind of within the frame of where the foot bar is. We'll do one more like this and then come all the way back up. Have a seat. Now we're going to do a similar thing where we're just going to come up to standing from seated, but go ahead and push your legs all the way out. Straight to start. So you're straight, your heels are dropped.

I'm going to keep it from going out any further than it was. Push into your hands and hover your butt and then just pull to come all the way back in. Good. And then push out from there. So I'm going to let you go to that same distance and then pull to come back in and dropped your head a little bit more. Good. Push out and then pull to come back in. Go ahead and have a seat. I'll still good one. Try the release release, like I'm going to hold it while you release and let your foot go out to the side. Then I'll let it go and you can move it out and in and I'll hold it while you come back to the switch. Yes, but I'll hold it while you're switching. Okay.

So stand yourself back up straight, arm forward. So right arm forward leg goes out. Got It. Okay. We'll go out just a little bit just to there and then pull to come right back up. Go ahead and do one more. Go out and then pull to come right back up and then go ahead and bring your foot down so your arm goes forward. Yep. And then you can go right into the other side.

So out foot goes out and then we release and then pull to come back in. We'll do one more just to be balanced and then pull to come back in. Good. I've got it. Foot down, hand down. Just have a seat. How do you feel? How do you feel? Like accomplished. Happy, accomplished. So I've still got this, you can go ahead and make your way off. Um, but did you, did that feel like appropriately scaled to you? Ready to do it? Right. So, and that's what I want. I want it to be where she's ready to do it without me. That's what she said.

It's like you just basically give little successes where it's like, okay, that wasn't that bad. Well now this isn't that bad. Well now this isn't that bad. And then you get to a point where you're like, what? She said, I was ready to do it without you. She's like, okay, go away. I've got this. I don't need your help at this point. And I think you want people to get to that point where they're just like, no, I've got this Kodaly go get a glass of water. Meet me back. Don't do that because that's probably a liability. Okay,

Chapter 8

Pike/Pull Up on Wunda Chair

so if you're working on the pike on the chair, one of the best ways to practice what you need your shoulders to be doing and what you need your abs to be doing is actually just do a travel towel drag on the floor. So Aaron, if you want to come into a plank position, you're going to pike your hips up and pull your feet in, and then you can work your way back down.

Now you could like walk yourself across the floor, in which case then the floor would be perfectly clean or this one spot of the floor will end up being clean. So you pull in and really think about that lift up. And I almost want you to feel like you could go into a handstand, like your weight really is in your hands. Nice. And then reach yourself back out into a plank and then pull up. So really trying to get your, your hips up high, really good, and then reach yourself back. So do you feel like your weight is in your hands?

It's a really like, yeah, it's really in your hands at this point. Um, and then you can go ahead and come down, dropped down quick child's pose. Cause that's not necessarily the easiest thing. But then once you've done a bunch of those, going up on the chair is gonna feel like a piece of cake much easier than this actually. So I find a lot of times when you want to teach somebody a pike or a pull up on a chair, which you really want to do, is teach them the two different motions. So it's this pushing down and really working on your shoulders, helping you lift up and then that lifting up of your core.

Now in my perfect world, this would be a higher box or m. What works really well are your kitchen countertops because you can just work on pushing down and sliding your feet up along the cabinetry. But we don't have a box that's higher, so we're going to use the chair. So I'm, if Abe brings his hands to the chair and they can actually be a little bit further forward. Although the further forward your hands are, the easier it is. So if your hands are closer to you, the harder it would be. You're probably gonna need to bring your feet in and whether you want to have your hands flat or whether you want to have your hands to the outside is going to be your choice.

I personally think outside is going to be a little bit easier. So you want to really push down into your arms, lift up with your abs. If you come up to your tip toes, that's fine. If you come up higher than your tip toes, like you literally levitate off, that's awesome. Which is obviously really hard. He's very, very strong. Um, and this is really low for him to try to get that kind of position.

Like I said, a counter top works really well, but it's that down and up kind of position. So you have somebody get the sense of this is what the Pike is, then you can bring them over to the chair. I teach a lot of group classes and if I have somebody who has selected themselves to be in a group that may be they aren't quite ready for. Um, in complete candor and honesty, I set them up for failure in this exercise. I will put it on a weight. They won't be able to lift themselves up. Because if I know that there's too many people in the class for me to spot, I will say like, if you can't lift the pedal, you're still really doing the exercise.

If you're essentially doing what Abe was just doing, where you're pushing down and unable to lift the pedal. So I know Abe can do this, but we're going to pretend he camp, um, for purposes of this. So I'm going to give him one spring on a three, um, which is actually what I do all my pikes on. But um, I think this would be a good place to start somebody if they're newer so that they can get a sense of the exercise before the pedal is really in any way assisting them. So you can walk around this side and step your feet onto the pedal and enhanced to the front of the chair. So what I'm going to do, and again, I always say it's like really funny, the idea of me spotting certain people who were way bigger than me, but I would set my stance so that I can't be pushed over and I would maybe push into his shoulders to give him a little bit of feedback, drop your head more and then lean forward a little bit and then you're gonna push down to lift up. So I might have set him up for failure, especially since I don't really want somebody's arms to come too far over their shoulders. But this is, this to me is actually really good work, right? It's not necessarily the prettiest work and it's not necessarily accomplishing the exercise, but it's going to keep them safer. So you're like, that's what you want to feel.

Go ahead and step off and then we're gonna do the weight. That would be like a more natural weight for you. So I think probably a three and a two or two threes or like if you're in classical equipment, like a high low, and I still want to be here because what, what happens when people have a freak out is they bend their knees and then they're like, I want to go this way and I don't want them to go this way. And so you can go ahead and push down, drop your head. And then here he's like obviously being more successful, but I actually don't like people to lean that much forward.

So sometimes I'll push them back a little bit just so they don't really go this way too much. But obviously he can already do this exercise. So, um, but that's how I would progress it that you start off light so that you have to get the motion and then let them have heavy. But I think a lot of times people give people a really heavy spring cause they want them to be able to do the exercise. And I want them to be able to do the exercise, not the, it's so heavy. It flings you up. That's not the exercise. The exercise is really working on your body to help you come into that particular position. Okay.

Chapter 9


If you're working on Cadillac conversions, I think one of the most important things to learn is how to fall.

So when I talked about previously having an exit strategy, I always want my students to have an exit strategy for coming out of this. So first of all, you know you need to have certain requirements, so you need to be able to have the grip strength to hold yourself up. I would say for like 30 seconds. So if you took somebody, the entire hanging back series where their hips are down, they lift up to come into a back extension, they do three pull-ups and they do that three times. I think that's generally a good test to see how someone would go. You could have the trapeze on, but she's got legs that go on forever so she actually doesn't need them to reach towards the bar.

So what we're going to do is she'll step up to the bar and then bring herself into a little ball. Cause the little ball is like where I like to start things like candlestick. So I'm like just kind of spawning her here. She's in the little ball and she's swinging and the swinging is like just something that's going to happen. I find it much easier to fall with your feet going down towards the Mat.

So feet go towards the Mat and you just let yourself touch. That's actually for most people going to feel a lot safer if you don't have somebody who's tall, you can give them a box underneath their feet. Um, she's already done these kinds of things before. So do you have the jump just to come back so you can actually jump yourself back into a little ball? Okay. So I'm just trying to minimize the swing coming out of it.

This way is actually harder because you have more momentum going this way. So if you want to lower yourself back my direction, you just basically try to slow your descent, right? So it is actually really good arm workout to try to slow your descent down. So once somebody knows which way they're going to fall, if they're going to do candlestick, then you can practice candlestick where you go into the ball and lift your feet up towards the ceiling. But we're also going to practice a walkover. So what we're going to do is just walk over to get used to that feeling upside down us.

But you're going to walk yourself back the same way that you walked into it. So step a foot up to the bar, step the other foot up to the bar. You can kind of push your hips a little bit towards your shoulders and then reach a leg towards that far edge of the Cadillac and then you could reach the other foot over. I'd like to go above the bar. I think above the bar actually feels a little bit safer. And then the way you can come out of it is just walk yourself back the same way you got in.

And maybe we would have the trapeze there to make it easier to step down, but she can come back exactly the way she got into it. So again, we're talking about taking things into their smallest digestible pieces that you can break up to. Ended up doing like an exercise from there. So then we've learned the falling that way. So that is kind of the coming down from the walkover. So instead of having both legs come down, you actually can slow it down a little bit and have just one leg come down and then the other leg come down.

So you step a foot up to the um, kind of whatever that thing is called, the trapeze bar step the other foot up. And then again, I like that pushing your hips over because you want to get this sense so that when you're doing some of the other inversions that works better. Step one foot over and then you can step the other foot over and then just one knee and then lower that foot and then you can just walk the other foot down. That does require a certain amount of hip flection flexibility because if she was really tight, she wouldn't be able to get her feet forward. So again, that's going to be an exercise depending on the person. And then I just say bring your hands to the mat cause I think that's actually a really easy and it kind of attractive way to come out of the exercise.

But that feels like reasonably safe, right? That you're just breaking it into little pieces. And I just always want to have my hand on somebody's low back if I don't know their strength because if they start to go, I want to like make sure they don't fall on their head. And I think it's interesting because I don't know about you, but I think this is a less scary inversion than handstands even though you're hanging by your hands. So if you drop, you're more likely to like seriously injure yourself. But for some reason I've always found this one a little bit less scary. Yeah.

Feels pretty safe and you're in a cage, which I like. Okay. So when you're teaching somebody candlestick, there's not a lot of ways to really prep somebody into that without actually doing it. Um, this is something that I just started playing around with and I actually feel like it's really nicely supportive. Um, a lot of people lose their minds and tell me I'm doing something really dangerous. I don't feel like it's dangerous because I make sure that first of all the handles are really secure and screwed in really tight that it's the right height for me, which is actually not to the highest point cause I want my arms to be straight. Um, I wanna make sure I don't come onto my neck. I want my weight to be on my shoulders.

So essentially it's like candle stick with one additional point of support. And that one additional point of support makes it feel like a much more secure exercise to me. If you wanted to take it and compare it to another apparatus, it's like doing jack knife on the ladder barrel, except on the ladder barrel, you're pushing your arms overhead and here you're pulling much like you would do if you're doing candlestick. So there is a way to get into it where you come from the front of the chair and you do a forward fold and you reach for the handles. But that's harder. So we're going to do this way.

So it's not necessarily the prettiest thing to get into. So sometimes if you post it on Instagram, you just edit out this part cause it doesn't look that good. But um, what you do is you come kind of forward, I'm on a battery pack right now, which is why I'm sliding a little weird and you're just going to begin to pull yourself into a little like a tight little ball so that you're upside down. And this is sort of how you'd be if you're going into candlestick and then you just start to lift your legs up towards the ceiling and you try to find a nice straight line and it's a little wobbly. I mean you're wobbling a little bit and then you can work on things like doing like the scissors like you would do, ah, if you're upside down and you can always catch your balance. I'm a little wobbly here.

And then try to find like that tight little ball again if you feel like you're wobbling and then just slowly bring yourself back up and finding that real hip extension, which you would want to find in your candlestick. The way you come out of it is you just bend your knees and I'm just going to give myself almost like a little pull up to come forward so that you come out of it basically the same way that you got into it. If you're feeling really crazy, you can go feet to the floor and then make yourself make your way up to standing. I do put the pedal all the way down because I don't want to hit the pedal with my head. Okay,

Chapter 10


so one of the requirements of a handstand is that you have reasonable risk mobility. So if you just come to weight into your hands and it doesn't matter if your legs are back in a quarter bed or not, you're going to begin to shift your weight forward so that you're getting a little stretch through your wrists and then you can just kind of shift your weight back. You can also play around with your hand position. So if your index fingers are really facing forward and you have slightly externally rotated your shoulders so that I have your elbow is facing forward, that's also a pretty stable position for your shoulders.

Then this one's a lot harder. You move your hands so they're facing back and this is where a lot of people feel a lot of tightness and then you shift your weight back so that you're putting weight into more. Um, you really feel it in the heel of your hands, but more into that fingertip side. And then you can also do different positions where you go side to side and you work on shifting your weight backwards and forwards. And then you can also work on just getting wrist strengthening exercises done. So what you do is you just push up and then lower back down.

So you're trying to keep your fingers relatively straight and since fingers aren't all the same length, you end up having to come up onto it. And you can also, if you're on your fists, you can work on lowering down to your elbows. Coming up onto your fist and actually rolling your thumbs forward a little bit and then rolling through your wrist joints. And all of those things are really great to strengthen your risks. And a lot of times you have students who just complain their wrists hurt all the time. Your wrists hurt all the time cause your wrists are weak.

So if you can work on forum strengthening and wrist strengthening, a lot of times that that pain can go away. Another thing is defined, um, in your handstand is a hollow body position. So I don't have a perfect hollow body. I don't, um, I don't know that many people who do, who aren't like actual gymnast, but you're going to come line down on your stomach and I want you to have your chin up and I want you to push your arms overhead all the way as straight as you can with your legs back behind you all the way together. And then once you get into that, I really want you to lengthen your low back. So head is down. You can reach towards each other, your head is down. And I want you to lengthen your low back but look forward. So, because ultimately when you're doing handstands, you're actually looking at your hands right when you're starting off.

And I would say your gaze should be at your wrists because a lot of times when your gaze is forward of your hands, you have too much of a lift in your head and then you really length in your low back and squeeze your legs together if he can and then go ahead and release it. It's actually not, it seems like the easiest exercise. It's not actually that easy. Um, I like sometimes to do it up against a wall so you can actually push into something so you can get that sensation. Um, working on a challenging of your abdominals. You do the same thing, but you're going to do it on your back. Almost no one I know can do it with their legs all the way straight. So you're going to have your legs bent and just roll over onto your back from the position you're in. And then go ahead and start with your knees bent. Reach your arms up and overhead. Same thing you were doing before and really push, you can lift your head up a little bit till gaze at your hands again.

Another good one to do at the wall. So now what you're gonna have to do is take the arch out of your back, which is really a lot of work and you really start to see here where people's arms start to come up because they don't actually have the shoulder mobility to keep their hands reaching overhead. But you have that length and low back, which is like a hollow body position. Begin to walk your feet away from you as far as they can go where you can really maintain that length and position. And like I said, most people are going to have to have a bend in their knees. You can also do this from a hanging position. So if you come onto like the Cadillac, you can actually hang from the Cadillac and work on finding that same position where you're looking at your hands above your head.

She's laughing because it's hard and then you can go ahead and just hug your knees into your chest. Give yourself a little break and you can rock a little bit from side to side. Okay. So for this exercise, which is a really good handstand prep exercise, you get sort of two positions of it. You get to feel what it feels like to try to get your hips over your hands, over your shoulders, and then you get to push out to try to find the hollow body shape that you would want to hold in a handstand position. Um, ab is really tall, so it almost like a stretch reformer for this so he could really push out into that handstand position. But I think we'll definitely be able to get the L so you'll start with your hands down and then you just push yourself out enough that you can come into a plank. So there's two pivot points.

There's the hips and the shoulders. And so you want to lift the hips up and then keep coming up all the way to come into the stopper. So I might have my hand here, so he knows that that is obviously as far forward as he's going to be able to come. And then this is not quite as up as like he might be able to get, but eventually you could always work towards being your hands a little further back. Then you're going to go ahead and push yourself out, push your hands forward, and you're trying to keep this from collapsing. So you're really finding that nice length and position. And then you can come back into that lifted up position where you're finding that nice straight line down and he's really doing a good job of pushing away, which you kind of need to get here and get one more in.

You will go back forward. And again, like I said, we kind of need to stretch reformer and then you can lift yourself all the way back in and then just however you feel safe coming down, um, works. And then you have to like push your hair back so it falls in your face. So how did that, so how did that feel? Um, the, um, the lift up at the top is obviously the hardest part for mine, right? So he's got 10 of tight shoulders.

So that like final lift up where you're really having to get your arms back is like kind of a tough thing. And so how he could progress that is walking his hands further back. But there is always that there is that sensation. Like I want to have somebody there to like have their hand in my back. So I'm sort of like, eh, are my hips over my shoulders?

And all the time my trainer's always like, no. And I'm like, really? Cause it really feels like my hips are over my shoulders. But your hips were like kind of at a diagonal back. So ultimately you work into that kind of straight up. And then like I said, he needs a longer reformer to get the full hollow body. I think that [inaudible] has the absolute best tool for practicing handstands because it's literally a cage.

So remember how I said I like to have an exit strategy. The exit strategy is this, you lay your feet back down over the barrel. Daria is not a hand standard. This is not her wheelhouse, not something she's like super into doing. So if you have somebody who's has an aversion to handstands, this would be my number one place to teach them because it's controllable for them. It's really easy for me to act as a, um, a guide for them. So what I want you to do is come behind the barrel and then just for me first just reach your arms up. So that's like, that's actually nice that she's got really good position, but I want you to try to get your elbow straighter.

So you think about really pushing up that, that pushing up that you want to get. You're gonna come over the barrel and bring your hands. You can actually come because you don't have super wide shoulders. I would say bring your hands to the floor inside of the barrel and then you're just going to scoot yourself forward so that your, um, back begins to touch the back of the barrel. So we're going to put her in as much of her body touching this barrel possible, and then you'll end up lifting a foot up. And I'm going to hold it.

And then you're going to lift the other foot up and I'm going to hold that as well. So there's not been so many places you can go. And I actually, she's a good size for me to spot. Um, so go ahead and just begin to fold yourself over and then hands can come onto the board and begin to walk yourself down. Now once she gets to the floor, I want her hands to come to the floor and you begin to just really push into your hands, immediately begin to shift yourself forward so that she's going to come with her back all the way against here. Now you can take one leg up. That's right. And I'm going to hold on to that leg. Just bring your other leg up to meet that lick. You got it.

And then just push the floor away. Push, push, push. And I can help her by lifting her up some. And then we're going to reach a foot to the barrel. Which one do you want to go? Oh, okay. And I'm still going to hold onto her waist because I don't want her to feel like she's going to fall. Other foot can come down and then walk your hands up.

You can kind of shift your weight back and then walk yourself up and up. How is that? That was awesome. She's dripping sweat, but you know, it's like to me, so let's say she didn't have me here to like help her. Um, I would still try to have somebody help you. But another way to even feel even more secure in that is to put it all the way up against the wall. So then your feet are touching something that's a wall. Like really to fall in this one, you'd have to almost try, right? It's, this is kind of a hard one to completely screw up. And um, I actually don't think a lot of people learned this in their teacher training.

I don't think it's like a classical, um, version of a handstand in plays. But I'm like, you have this wonderful support that you can bring your body onto. And then once you have that support, then you feel like you can do something and you won't like go. As my teacher that works with me says ass over tea kettle, which is this phrase I'm going to try to bring back from whatever era that's from. It's a great and I just really thought really strong into my arm. Yeah, without having to worry about that. Right. You don't have to worry about that.

You're going to tip over because you can focus on breaking it down to those steps that you need, which is that overhead arm push, which is why I had her start feel what that overhead arm pushes because you're going to need that once you get into this position. Okay. So once you've done the, with your back fully supported, we're going to do a slight variation of that where it's the same exact exercise. But what I want Katie to do, cause she's a little bit more comfortable, she's been doing this for a little bit longer, is work on finding that nice line, but your head is going to be what's touching. And then your hands will be pushing into the floor. Your head is like your third point of contact. So to me, if somebody is doing something that's balanced, scary, giving them three points of contact is something that's gonna feel like infinitely more secure.

So you're just going to have that slight head lift where you're basically just looking down at your wrists. Um, but you kind of come almost as far forward. You're just not gonna have your back all the way up against it. Okay. So keto will come over the barrel, hands go towards the floor and again, she's not so wide and the shoulders that I feel like she needs to be there and her head is pushing into this ladder rung. Go ahead and just kind of Shimmy yourself forward or you can come forward this way. Really push into the floor and Tuck your hips. Yes. So she's trying to find that really good shape.

Do you feel secure in that if you can bring your ribs back? Yes. And then let's go ahead and we're gonna come down. We're gonna come into it slightly differently because I want to try to get your line better before you come up. So if you need to get your head to have, okay, she's good. Okay. So I want you to come into it the same way that, um, Daria had come into it.

So actually shimmy forward first so that you can get this sense of pushing down into your arms. That is much better position. So this is the position I want. She's got her head attached. Go ahead and lift one leg up. I've got that leg lift the other leg up to meet it. Good. This actually, I can't see her from the side, but I feel like it looks better. But pull your ribs in some, even more than that. Yes. It's almost like about tucking your hips so freaking a little bit more forward and really push through your arm.

Yes. So I'm actually really lightly holding her like fingertips and she's kind of got it and I can just always catch her. Okay. And then you can just bring out leg down because I think that's the safest way. Come at it. Bring the other leg down and then go ahead and make your way up. So it's completely natural that you're going to find a little bit of an arch in your back to find your balance.

Especially when you're first like practicing this. How do you feel? I know you always feel like I always feel out of breath when I'm upside down. I wanted to do my arms. I felt like they were in a position not quite under me. Okay. Yes. She felt like her arms weren't in the right position so she wanted it to be a slightly different arm position and I can't, I'm only seeing her from the side, so I can't really tell.

Okay, so tuck your hips. Good. And then I'm holding onto her hipbones, which I feel like is like the perfect place to hold. Um, go ahead and reach a leg up and then you can reach the other leg up. Good. And then let your legs come a little bit more towards me and then Tuck your pelvis more. So you're trying to get more lift up. So thick push away. There you go. That's nice.

And I can't tell what her ribs are doing, but I liked what her shoulders were doing. How does that feel? That's okay. What feels not okay. Go ahead. In the latter feels weird to me. Okay. Tuck your chin. Okay. Does this would be the next step is to not have your head touching the ladder, but still, yeah. Still being in a kind of a safer position. Now your feet are too far back.

Okay. Yeah, I was trying for a plum line, but um, but really most people are gonna arch. Like that's just kind of a natural kind of thing. And then your arms get dead and then you need to take breaks. But that's kind of how I would do it.

I would start with back all the way up against the barrel. Next thing, head up against the barrel. So you feel like, okay, I still have a little bit of feedback and then next thing still in the cage, right? So the cage is going to keep you, you can only go but so far this way and you'll just lay yourself back over. Um, and like I said, I think you'd have to try hard to go sideways out of it. So how did that feel? She said a challenge where she's weaker because she had to think about some things that she normally wouldn't think about.

And obviously this isn't like my first thing I would do, cause we would be doing shoulder mobility, we would do wrist mobility, we would do finding the line and then working on handstands as the last thing after like all of it. But I mean, so you still always feel, I always feel like if you're upside down and you don't fall, that's like an accomplishment. A little dopamine hit. So good job. Okay. So now let's say you're ready to take your hand stand practice to the middle of the room, which is the most intimidating place to do it. And I still don't have a hand stand in the middle of the room. I don't have a press hand stand in the middle of the room, but I have certain ways that I've found that I like to practice that are challenging for me, that I don't feel like I'm going to die.

Although my heart is pounding through my chest right now. So maybe my body feels a little bit like I might. The first is to do a handstand with a very similar to how the ladder barrel gave you the support. I want some support and I want to be able to push into something. So I'm going to try to do kind of a pike up to a handstand, but Abe is going to help me.

And so what I'm going to do is really work on pulling my abs up as I'm coming into a forward fold cause I want my abs to be turned on before I start to come up into a handstand. I'm really going to push into the floor and then I'm actually going to have to lean my weight forward over my wrist, which is scary. So what Abe is gonna do is he's gonna push his knees into my shoulders, kind of coming into a squat. His hands are going to go onto my waist and then I'll start to lift my legs and then we'll kind of adjust from there. Wish me luck. Okay, so think about lifting up first. So I'm really lifting up and then I'm going to come into a forward fold and my hands are going to come down to the floor. So again, you need to have some reasonable level of flexibility here.

I'm going to come up to my tip toes and then I need Abe to actually move back so that I can lift up and he's lifting me up too much. So you're actually lifting my hands off the floor. You need to let me shift my weight more forward. So he was literally just lifting me up. So that wasn't quite it. Okay. So take two.

Because the first time Abe was a little bit too close to me and I need to actually let my weight shift forward so that I can feel my abs being able to kick in to lift my legs up. So same thing, I'm going to lift up, begin to fold forward and bring my hands to the floor. So I'm looking at my sort of the heel, my hands, and then I need to be able to lean forward a lot and I'm pulling in. Yeah. And lifting up and really pushing the floor away. So once I feel like I'm reasonably secure in that, which I do, Abe can be in to take his knees back some and then I stopped feeling secure. So then I came down from it.

But that's one way to sort of do it. I started feeling like I was tipping over a little bit when he moved away and now I'm getting a head rush. But you have that sensation where if you've done it enough times and you start to go a little wonky, you feel like it's okay. I've been in this position before. I know I'm just gonna lower my feet to the floor and come out of it. Okay.

Do you wanna try it one more time? Okay. So abs are lifting up, coming into that forward full position and I really want to lean into him pulling my legs up and then he has to adjust for my weight and then leave me there for a second. Push me towards yes. And then I'll just come down. That was better. So I come down when I feel like I'm not really quite hitting it the way I want to hit it. So that's another way to work on handstand. Okay. So the last way to work on hand sand is once you don't feel like completely freaked out in it. I have a very strong preference of which side I'm spotted on and that's what I'm spotted on the left side. So ABC actually start behind me.

I'm going to try to find a hollow body position from a plank and then he's actually just going to lift my feet up and then he'll stand to the side of me. So he's still going to be holding onto my legs. So I'm still not going to be in kind of a free hand stand. But what I want to do when I'm coming down into my plank position is really stabilizing through my shoulders. I actually want to tops of my feet because aid is going to grab and then he's going to start lifting me up and then I have to shift from my shoulders to move my shoulders for it a little bit.

And I know I've come to a little bit of an arch because that's still how I'm finding my balance in my handstands and I'm probably even more arched in the neck and go ahead and come down or he could lower me down and lifted me back up into sort of a tick tock kind of position, which is a good way to practice just the shoulder strength that you need. Sorry,

Chapter 11

Single Shoulder Headstand Bench

I was talking about how when you have a certain skillset that you know, you have, you can look at an exercise that you can see parts of it that you're like, okay, I know how to do that one part. Um, there was this video floating around on the [inaudible] Instagram universe and it was an Olympian. Um, I don't know what his sport was, who is doing this exercise on the chair. I'm not gonna do the pedal press, but he basically came up into a headstand handstand kind of thing using the chair. And when I looked at it, I looked at it and to me it was a headstand bench with one arm holding onto the pedal. Now I don't want to do it with any momentum. He kind of hopped into it and I was like, Ooh, don't like momentum. It's not my thing. So what I'm going to do is do essentially a single shoulder headstand bench exercise, which, um, do not do this without a spotter.

I don't know if I've got it today. Um, I had it when I tried it previously, but you basically just have to get yourself situated where you feel like reasonably secure and we have a hold my leg. Yes. Don't pull on that lick. Yeah. Okay. So I know I'm shaking, but I feel actually relatively safe here. I know that sounds really crazy, but I had given myself the box, so I know that when I'm coming out of it, it's not going to be a scary long fall and it really does feel like the headstand bench exercise. So it was, it looks kind of crazy, but it's not necessarily the craziest thing when you know, you know what your position is in a headstand, like a tripod headstand and you know that you have the ability to stabilize through your shoulders. Tada.

Final Thoughts

So obviously I don't have like a perfect handstand. Um, maybe I never will. But I think one thing that's really important is to look at your [inaudible] practice as practice. Um, what can you do to try to get better than you were yesterday? To face those fears that may have been holding you back? Like, if you would've told me, um, a year ago that I would have done that last hand stand from a, a plank position to somebody lifting my legs up, I would've been like, oh, no, absolutely not. Um, but I think like when you get to play around with those things, it really does give you sort of a sense of accomplishment. Um, and especially when you put it out there on please anytime and let everyone judge you for where you might not be able to do something perfectly yet. But if you can say that you tried it, I mean, that's a wonderful amount of accomplishment. And then it really does translate into the rest of your life to face any kind of fear that life throws at you. So go out, try to get yourself upside down and do something that maybe is a little bit scary for you, and give yourself a little hint of that wonderful drug called dopamine.

Continuing Education Credits

If you complete this workshop, you will earn:

3.0 credits from National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP)

The National Pilates Certification Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)


2 people like this.
oh yesss! my weekend program! i am looking forward to it! ;)
1 person likes this.
Your empathy for clients is a gift, which we as instructors greatly appreciate. The progressions presented are a valuable tool to deeply understand Pilates' work. Mariska is a patient, thoughtful presenter.
Perhaps, future tutorials to support those who experience chronic fear responses, could deepen our personal skills to relieve the physical manifestations which limit freely participating in life's choices.
1 person likes this.
Hi Mariska! Excellent workshop. I devoured it. You’ve given me hope for being a fear-based person. I’m trying to take the quiz but it keeps telling me I’ve only watched 59% of the workshop but I’ve watched the whole thing. Can you help?
1 person likes this.
Great workshop - thank you!!
Barbara Hi Barbara - I don't know how to fix that, but I'm sure the PA team will see your comment and help out. I'm glad you liked the workshop!
This was great, and very timely for me.  Thank you!
Does this workshop offer PMA credits?
Hi Erini, yes this workshop offers 3 CECs.
Mariska, Thank you for this workshop.  I found the information about fear to take on new meaning as we navigate life with COVID.  The information was useful for my Pilates practice and teaching, but also helpful for many other aspects of life.  I too live with a yet-to-be-cured neurological disease and appreciate you openly sharing your journey with us.  Be well.
Mariska, Thank you for this workshop.  It was really helpful for me, both as a teacher and person!  You have a really great way of explaining things to clients that infuse both confidence and calm.  I learned a lot, and I'm grateful for your wisdom!  
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