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Greetings Earth People!

As we exited the metro station heading to the Earth Day Celebration event Washington, DC some 20 years ago we couldn’t help but chuckle at the man yelling, “Greetings earth people!”  Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about the meaning of his greeting.  Was he suggesting that the people attending the celebration were “earth people” and that other people were, well, something else?  As we bring our attention to the health of the environment and earth with Earth Day 2013 (April 22, 2013), I encourage everyone to deepen their connection with the earth and all become “earth people.”

To deepen your connection with the earth you can use any of your five senses:

  1. Take a moment to look up at the sky, enjoy a sunrise or sunset, or explore the characteristics of a tree.
  2. Get outside and breathe in deeply enjoying the scents of the natural world around you.  If the air around you is anything but natural or clean – find some fresh earth or plant life to hold in your hand and breathe in the scent.
  3. Feel the ground with your hands or feet.  Dig in the dirt, garden, walk barefoot, or just wiggle your toes in the dirt!
  4. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits.
  5. Listen to the birds, wind, or water in your environment.

In addition to the suggestions above you can use the following practice to deepen your connection with the earth:

  • Begin by coming to a comfortable seated position.  Make soft fists with each hand with the thumbs tucked inside and turn your palms down to rest on your knees (Bhu mudra).  Rest here for 6-12 breaths.
  • Then purse your lips to form a “beak” and inhale and exhale through your lips lengthening your exhale. (Kaki pranayama)  Repeat this for 6-12 breaths.
  • Move forward into a kneeling position, Thunderbolt pose (Vajrasana) for 6-12 breaths, and then come to rest in the child’s pose of your choice.
  • Moving through down dog, slowly come up to standing to Mountain pose (Tadasana) – Bring your focus to rooting your feet down into the earth with all of the standing poses.
  • Following your breath – move through 2 Sun Salutations As (Surya Namaskar A), and 2 Sun Salutations Bs (Surya Namaskar 2).
  • Beginning a 3rd Sun Salutation – move from Warrior I (Virabandrasana I) into warrior II (Virabandrasana II), and then into Goddess pose (Deviasana).  Repeat on the other side.
  • Then invite a sense of balance with the earth by moving into Tree pose (Vrkasana) on the right and left – Perhaps reaching your arms up overhead as a tree reaches its branches towards the sky.
  • Coming to a seated position on the mat, straighten your legs out in front of you in Seated staff pose (Dandasana).  After 3-6 breaths move into Boat pose (Navasana). Repeat 1-3 times.
  • Beginning to bring quietness back into the body, move into wide legged forward fold (Upavista konasana).
  • Then move onto your back with knees bent, feet together, and knees falling out to the sides – supine bound angle pose (Supta Baddha konasana).
  • Finally, complete the sequence coming to rest in corpse pose (Savasana).  Lying on your back fully relaxed for 5 minutes or more.

Earth Day was founded in 1970 as an “environmental teach-in” to increase awareness of the environment and promote activism to help protect the earth.  Earth Day is now celebrated by over one billion people in 192 countries across the globe.  Earth Day is a time to promote awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment, sustainable living, and earth awareness.  Take some time every day to reconnect with the earth and share your love for the earth with others so that we can all become “Earth People.”

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.  We are all crew.
~ Marshall McLuhan, Communications Theorist, educator, philosopher

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Embracing Your Core

Last week, when I wrote about accessing the core, I was referring to the deep core muscles of your abdomen that provide your body with strength, stability, and vitality.  This week the topic is the core of your being.  “Whoa, the core of my being, do you really want to go there?”  Sure!  Why not!

In yoga therapy, we use the koshas to represent the layers of our being with atman at the very center representing our true self or essence.  Unlike the core muscles of the trunk which can become weak or inflexible, atman, or your essence, is enduring and unchanging. What can change is your connection with and awareness of your essence.

The koshas or layers that make up your being are the physical body (annamaya kosha), energy or breath body (pranamaya kosha), emotional body (manamaya kosha), wisdom or witness body (vijnanamaya kosha), and bliss body (anandamaya kosha).  When these koshas become imbalanced or distorted your perception of your essence changes.  Just like the sun never changes even though it may seem to dim with the clouds, your essence never changes even though it may seem to waiver with imbalances in other areas.  When we bring balance to the physical, energy, emotional, wisdom and bliss bodies our essence shines brightly, just like the sun shines brightly when the clouds are cleared away.

There are many approaches that you can use to achieve greater balance and reconnect with your true essence.  Some approaches include:

  1. Get out into nature, feeling the earth, and breathing in fresh air.
  2. Meditate, including sitting meditation, practicing mindfulness, or praying.
  3. Practice Yoga including yoga postures, yogic breath techniques, and mudras.
  4. Eat mindfully and nutritiously, and drink adequate amounts of water.
  5. Surround yourself with people that love and support you.
  6. Get enough sleep.
  7. Read philosophical or spiritual texts.
  8. Engage in creative outlets that you enjoy.

Just as strong, flexible, and engaged core muscles provide your body with strength, ease of movement, and vitality, a strong connection to your true essence allows you to find greater contentment and harmony in your life and experience your bliss.

Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives.” ~ Cybele Tomlinson

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Accessing the Core

There is a lot of talk about “the core”, and just as much confusion.  In functional anatomical terms what are we talking about when we discuss the core, why is it important, and how do we access it?

When we talk about the core we typically are referring to the collection of muscles that surround and support the abdominal region, and that stabilize the spine.  These muscles include all of the abdominal muscles, the posterior spinal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, and the diaphragm.

When these muscles are strong, flexible, and working together in a coordinated manner we experience greater strength, ease of movement, and vitality.  It is when these core stabilizers become imbalanced with each other that we can get into trouble and begin experiencing dys-function and possibly pain.  Your spine is naturally curved in a gentle S-curve when viewed from the side.  This curve allows your body to evenly distribute body weight and provide shock absorption as you move through your daily live.  If your “core” muscles become overly weak, strong, flexible, tight, or are not working together in a coordinated manner the curves in your spine can begin to distort leading to degeneration, pain, and eventual decreased functional abilities.

There is no one, (or two or three…) magic exercise for the core.  The first and most important step is to bring your awareness to your core muscles and learn to engage them in a balanced and coordinated manner.  Here are a few of my favorite approaches to do just that:

  1. Table push downs:  Sitting in front of a table with your feet resting flat on the floor, and your hands on top of the table palms down, focus keeping your elbows in at your sides and your shoulders down as you press your hands down into the table.  Exhale as you push down and hold for a count of three, and then relax.  As you do this you should feel a gentle tightening and drawing in of your lower abdomen.  This is your TVA (transversus abdominis) which is your deepest abdominal muscle.  The great thing is that when ever you engage your TVA your pelvic floor muscles are engaged also, so this is a 2 for 1!
    (It has been estimated that the contraction of the TVA and other muscles reduces vertical pressure on the intervertebral discs bays as much as 40%.  *Hodges P.W., Richardson C.A., Contraction of the abdominal muscles associated with movement of the lower Limb.  Physical Therapy. Vol. 77 No. 2 February 1997.)
  2. Table push ups:  Still sitting in front of the table, bring your hands into loose fists with the thumb side of the hand facing up and place your hands underneath the edge of the table.  Continuing to keep your elbows in at your sides and shoulders down, inhale and press your hands up into the table for a count of 3, then relax.  When you do this you should feel the small muscles on either side of your lower spine engage.  These are your multifidi muscles.  These muscles are a group of deep spinal muscles that run up and down the spine each spanning 3 joint segments.  These muscles offer stability to help the vertebra work more effectively, and reduce degeneration of the joints of the spine.
  3. Weighted inhalations:  Lying down on your back with a 1-2 pound bag of rice or beans on your belly right below your ribs, breathe in deeply through your nose filling out your belly so that the bag rises, then exhale relaxing and softening the belly.  This helps engage the diaphragm as you breathe in.  The diaphragm is your primary respiratory muscle and separates your thoracic cavity from your abdominal cavity.  This muscle connects with your TVA, as well as the top 3 vertebrae of your lumbar spine.  You can gradually increase the weight of the bag up to 5 lbs as long as you do not have a compromised respiratory system (COPD, asthma) and using higher weights is not indicated with young children or the elderly.
  4. Somatics:  Most Somatics sequences (Feldenkrais, Hanna) focus on coordinating movements in the core, alone with the breath.  These are a resting exercise of mindfulness of movement and can help you increase your awareness of your core, and improve your engagement of the core.  In addition to Somatics, Yoga and Pilates are two great ways to improve balance and coordination in your core since they focus on the entire body, rather than just isolating out one muscle at a time.  Enjoy taking some time getting familiar with your deepest core muscles and reaping the results in increased health, well being, and vitality.

“My strength comes from the abdomen.  It’s the center of gravity and the source of real power.” ~Bruce Lee

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Note to Self: Breathe

 

We all do it, we do it every day, and we’ve done it since the day we were born.  Yep, let’s face it, we all breathe.  But, have you given serious consideration to this vital function and all the important roles that your breath plays in your day to day life?

First of all, you know that you need to breathe to stay alive, but your breath does many other things for you including:

  1. Stress reduction– Deep, slow breathing with long exhales has been shown to reduce the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system, and help the rest and digest parasympathetic system.  This can help reduce our stress, pain, and other chronic conditions associated with stress.
  2. Chronic disease management – It has been scientifically proven that deep breathing can positively affect the heart, brain, digestive system, and the immune system.  According to Mladen Golubic, a physician in the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, breathing can have a profound impact on our physiology and our health.  “You can influence asthma; you can influence chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; you can influence heart failure,”
  3. Pain control – Scientific studies have found that participants who practice deep breathing in conjunction with pain medications during medical procedures experience less pain, discomfort, and emotional upset.
  4. Communication – Try to talk without breathing.  You can’t do it!  Have you ever noticed how hard it is to finish a sentence when you are short of breath?  Any singer or public speaker can tell you that as your breath control improves your ability to communicate improves.
  5. Energy regulation – With training we can learn to use the breath to energize or relax us, or move our energy into better balance.

As a Physical Therapist, Yoga Therapist, and yoga instructor, I often guide individuals in bringing their attention to their breath, and in breathing techniques targeted at different outcomes.  There is no one way of breathing that is “right” for everyone, at every moment.  The first step is to become attuned and aware of your breathing – mindfulness of the breath.  If you would like to explore the power of your breath further, there are many practitioners trained in this powerful tool, including yoga therapists and instructors, meditation instructors, respiratory and physical therapists, and voice coaches.

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Spring 2013 Newsletter from Posabilities

Welcome Spring!

flower-in-snowEquinoxes occur when the axis of rotation of the earth (i.e., the line from the N to S poles) is exactly parallel to the direction of motion of the earth around the sun. This happens on two days of the year, the spring and autumn equinoxes. This means that day length is exactly the same (12 hours) at all points on the earth’s surface on these days (except right at each pole, where it will be about to change from permanent light to dark, or vice versa).

Equinox is the exact point between winter and summer, a moment of balance, perhaps practice some balancing poses to tune into the Earth. After a long winter’s rest the light is returning and you can hear the chick-a-dees singing their spring song as the ground thaws and the mud makes ready for new growth. In Chinese acupuncture spring is a powerful time of energizing and breaking through into action. It is a good time for spring cleaning both in your house and external life as well as time to do an inner cleanse of poor habits of eating, thinking and acting.

Reflect upon the thoughts and goals you had during the Fall Equinox and for the New Year. Consider the lessons and experiences of the past six months and decide what is hindering progress with your goals.  Ask yourself — What important seeds of truth need to be revealed this spring, in order for me to truly know myself so that I may blossom into my essential being?

It’s time to awaken from winter’s hibernation, inactivity and self-introspection and put thoughts and plans into action! It is a time to drink in the sunlight, plant your seeds of intention as well as food, visit a greenhouse reminding us of the abundance that is coming our way!

Yogis all over the world celebrate the Equinox’s and Solstice’s with 108 Sun Salutations. This could be a good time for you to bring a daily Sun Salutation practice into your life by practicing one or more Sun Salutation each day and see what happens!

Happy Spring, Katey Branch

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Click on the calendar to view the class schedule at Posabilities!

Posabilities Welcomes OH Yoga! to 15 Tannery St.

ohyoga180-blkNamaste!  The lights have been on at Posabilities (Literally and figuratively) since late January, and I have been honored and humbled by all the light and love that many of you have brought into the space.  When Katey, Kathryn, and I began our OH Yoga! collaborative 10 months ago I fantasized about something like this, but never imagined that we would be in our own integrative wellness space so soon!  With the move to 15 Tannery St., and the formation of Posabilities Inc., we are now able to offer a spectrum of therapeutic and wellness opportunities including yoga, physical therapy, energy work, massage therapy, fitness classes, meditation, and yoga therapy all under one roof!  We are hoping to continue to grow and expand our offerings to the community with your support and participation.

If you have ideas of other services or activities that you would like to see offered at Posabilities, or if you, or someone you know, have services or knowledge to share that support our vision of health, happiness, and wellness I invite you to consider offering your services, classes, or workshop at Posabilities.  I am especially hopeful to be able to offer Tai Chi and dance in the Posabilities space.  Click here to send your ideas!

I offer deep gratitude to my fellow instructors and practitioners at Posabilites, Kathryn Gardner, Katey Branch, Julie Beddie, Anne Smith, and Carley Packard, and to each and every one of you.  The light in me honors and acknowledges the light in each of you.

Peace,  Katey Hawes

Upcoming Classes and Events

Meditation 101- What is meditation and why do it? – Starting April 7  5-6pm weekly at Posabilities with Kathryn Gardner

Click here to read more about the class!

Being a Healing Presence Workshop March 30, 4-6pm led by Katey Branch at Halls Pond Healing Arts

Come experience yourself as a Healing Presence. Through information, guided exercises, practicing listening skills, aware physical contact and being witness you can manifest being a healing presence with yourself, your loved ones and others.

$20 workshop fee if pre-registered, $25 at the door.  Call: 207-890-9622

253 Halls Pond Rd. S. Paris (off Rt 119 towards Hebron) Halls Pond Healing Arts

Get fit while you sit!

Community Class Wednesday April 10, 11:00am-12:00pm offered by Katey Hawes, MS, PT, RYT

Regular classes begin Wednesday April 24

Enjoy this physical therapist lead class that focuses on helping you improve your strength, flexibility, balance, and breathing patterns.  Exercises include stretching and strengthening exercises that can be done in a chair or on a mat, standing balance activities that can be modified to be done from sitting, and breathing exercises that can be enjoyed in any position.

Chikitsa chat – Therapeutic tips to bring greater balance to your life with Katey Hawes

With the spring equinox and the steadily lengthening days I would like to share a mudra, or hand gesture, that can offer support for your transformational fire (agni) and instill enthusiasm, energy, and a sense of clear direction for your life journey.

Achala agni mudra – Make the hands into fists facing each other with the index fingers extended straight out.  Bring the tip of each thumb to rest on the second joint of the middle finger on the same hand.  Then bring your hands together so that the tips of the index fingers of both hands come together, followed by the knuckles of the other 3 fingers and the tips of the thumbs of each hand.  Bring your hands in front of your solar plexus with your index fingers forming an arrow pointing outwards.  Your forearms should rest against your side ribs, with your shoulder blades back and down, and spine naturally aligned.

The light of agni illuminates my being, providing perfect balanced energy.

Please click here to Meet your OH Yoga! Teachers

We are happy to introduce our newest Instructor to Posabilities – Julie!

julie-framedJulie Zeitz Beddie, B.A., M.S.W, L.C.S.W- Julie discovered a love of dance and movement early in her life.  This led to exploration of yoga asana and self inquiry.  Julie followed a desire to understand the connection between the mind and body, and our universal interdependence.  She has worked over 20 years in the mental health field, obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Miami University in Oxford, OH and a Masters of Social Work at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY.  Julie completed her 200 hour teacher training in June 2009 through Elemental Yoga in Boston, Mass., with Bo Forbes.   Yoga has been a vehicle for Julie’s own healing journey and she loves being able to assist people in finding the deep healing that yoga can bring to one’s mind, body and spirit.

~Namaste~

The definition of Namaste (pronounced na, ma, stay) is both a physical gesture and a spoken spiritual salutation, which is the recognition of the divine spirit (or soul) in another by the divine spirit in you. The word Namaste translates simply to “I bow to the divine in you.”

In love and light, Katey, Kathryn, Katey and Julie!

For more information contact: KB 890-9622 * KG 890-7823 * KH 743-0930 to contact JB leave a message at Posabilities 743-0930

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Meditation 101 – What is meditation and why do it?

By:  Kathryn Gardner

In yogic theory, the mind is considered to be a field of consciousness, and thoughts are like waves that roll through that field.  Meditation is a way to bring us back to ourselves, where we can really experience and taste our full being, beyond all habitual ways of being and thinking.  In normal waking states, our minds focus on passing thoughts and outer circumstances, and we mistakenly identify with these thoughts and experiences.  In the stillness and silence of meditation, we glimpse and return to our deep inner nature remembering that we are the field that the waves pass through.

Often, when one thinks of meditation, an idea persists that the goal is to control the mind so that the thoughts stop coming, and a peaceful feeling is achieved.  But, as Sherrie Wade, founder of Transformational Meditation, sees it, “the purpose of the mind is to think.”  Rather than working against the true nature of mind, practicing meditation helps us develop the ability to sit quietly and observe the thoughts, feelings and moods that pass in and out of our mind.  As we observe the mind, transformation occurs.

If the transformation of mind for its own sake is not enough to tempt you, maybe the health benefits – physical and emotional – will appeal.  Meditation has been widely studied and is known to reduce pain, stress and anxiety while promoting a healthy, happy and productive lifestyle*.  People who meditate have been found to sleep better, age slower, be more present and focused, and be less annoyed by the details of life.  In a nutshell, meditation helps you enjoy life!

Kathryn-Gardner-fb-frameKathryn Gardner is a Vinyasa yoga teacher and is currently studying Transformational Meditation, a technique based on ancient yogic texts as well as the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dean Ornish, Joan Borysenko and others.  This method helps one transform ordinary waking consciousness into its original state of pure space or consciousness.

Posabilities will host a free introduction to meditation on Sunday, March 17 at 5:00 pm.  Kathryn will lead a 60 minute class, “Creating a Meditation Practice” every Sunday at Posabilities starting April 7, 2013 at 5:00pm.  Click here to read more.

*Many studies have been done in the last 20 years supporting these ideas, including the following:

Grossman (2004), Feiburg, Germany
Amishi Jha & Michael Baime (2007), Penn’s Stress Management Program
Miller, et al. (1995), University of Massachusetts Medical Center

Shades of Green

It’s not easy being green, but when my husband and I decided to start a business that would provide a spectrum of integrative health options, including Physical Therapy, Yoga, and Yoga Therapy, it became clear that going green was an important consideration.  The question became how green could we realistically go with the green ($$$) we had available?  After all, it is all about balance.

Why green? Sure, going green is a popular notion these days, but beyond feeling as we were doing the “right” thing, the reasons we considered green options in setting up our business included:

  • Providing a healthy environment within our building.
  • Limiting our carbon footprint and supporting sustainability.
  • Conserving the other green, our $$$ bottom line!

SO, what steps did we take to be greener at Posabilities?

  1. Heat – One of the biggest decisions we had to make in retrofitting our building was whether to keep the oil burning furnace and accompanying oil tank in the building.  I felt very strongly about not having an oil tank in the building due to the potential of fumes that can be irritants to people.  After considering all of our options and the associated cost, we settled on a high-efficiency propane furnace.  Additionally, as we increased the insulation in the building, we used insulation which is green by being brown. (www.ecobatt.us/sustainability.html). Lastly, we do not run a “hot yoga” studio but keep room temperatures between 74-76 F during yoga classes.
  2. 20130127_141532Flooring – About ⅔ of the building did not have flooring other than the cement slab, so we had many options in this area.  Much of the clinic side of the building was already completed with laminate wood flooring, so we matched this flooring in the rest of the clinic rather than tearing up the existing flooring and adding it to the local landfills.  In the studio, we immediately ruled out carpet due the chemical fumes that carpets emit, the potential allergens, and difficulty in keeping it clean and healthy over the long haul.  In the studio space, we went with hardwood, which is easier to keep clean, and allergen free, is a replenishable natural resource that can last for 100+ years.  (woodfloors.org/environmental.aspx).  In the lounge, we went with Marmoleum click tiles.  These are cork blocked linoleum tiles.  Linoleum is natural and is one of greenest floors on the market.  It’s bio-based, highly durable, non-toxic, anti-microbial and easy to maintain. (www.forboflooringna.com/Environment/Marmoleum-the-Environment/)
  3. Paint – Next came the walls. I wanted deep, rich colors, and was very happy when I could find what I wanted in Behr’s zero VOC paints.  VOC are volatile organic compounds found in many paints that can emit toxins into the air for years after application.  Zero VOC paints are much healthier during application and after.
  4. Furnishings – Though we did buy a number of new furnishings for the space, where we could we re-purposed 20130127_142058furniture that we no longer needed in our home, or that we were able to buy used.  We found our check-in desk on Craig’s List (maine.craigslist.org/) and I was pleasantly surprised, when I found out that the seller came from my mother’s home town (8 hours away), and quite possibly was a distant relative!  Additionally, we were able to find a truck full of great used furniture at surplus business assets in Sanford.  (www.buy-used.net/)  Again, we had a great conversation with the owner, who finds new homes for perfectly lovely and high quality office furnishings.

So, as it turns out, being green isn’t really all that hard.  We will continue with our intention to be as green as possible by using green cleaning products, using our filtered water cooler – rather than selling water in plastic bottles, and making as many green decisions in our building and business as possible.  Please visit the links that I have shared to find ways that you can improve your health in and outside of your home, and limit your footprint!

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” ~Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Keeping Your Balance

Balance can be ever changing, and can tend to become more and more elusive as we age.  While there are many factors that may contribute to decreases in balance, there are also many interventions that can be used to improve balance. Albert Einstein put it simply, “Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

In adults aged 65 or older, one in three suffer from falls, and two million older adults are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to falls (www.cdc.gov/features/OlderAmericans).  These falls have significant effects on older adults’ health, independence, quality of life, and longevity.  By recognizing the risk factors associated with decreased balance and falls and the steps to modify those risk factors, we can decrease the risk of falling or having a loved one fall.

Common risk factors contributing to falls include:

  1. Sedentary lifestyles that lead to declines in core and lower body strength.
  2. Decreased flexibility and range of motion.
  3. Changes in posture and body awareness.
  4. Fear of falling and decreased confidence in mobility.
  5. Incontinence.
  6. The need to take multiple prescription medications (>4).

Here are some tools that can be used to improve balance and decrease the risk of falling:

  1. Balance activities, coupled with strengthening and flexibility exercises.
  2. Activities that help improve your posture and body awareness – including Tai Chi and yoga.
  3. A regular walking program, when indicated and safe.
  4. Bladder training programs – which may also help strengthen your core.
  5. Regular socialization.
  6. Lifestyle modifications regarding diet and exercise that may help you decrease the number of prescription medications that you need to take.

If you or a loved one has experienced declines in balance or recent falls, please consult with a medical practitioner to make sure that there are no underlying pathologies contributing to these changes.  A practitioner specializing in balance and mobility can help you get back on your feet by developing a program customized to your individual needs and goals.

Katey Hawes, MS, PT, RYT, owner of Posabilities, has years of experience working in this area and would be happy to help you or your loved one.  Katey can help you determine if one-on-one Physical Therapy is indicated, or if you would benefit from a group exercise program, or other form of therapy to get you back on your feet!

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

What is this pain in the neck and how do I get rid of it?

Many of us experience pain or discomfort in our neck and shoulders at some point in our lives. In most cases, it will eventually resolve on its own, but 50-85% of the time it will return within 5 years. To avoid continuing neck or shoulder discomfort, or its return, here are a few modifications that you can make to your external environment, how you interact with your environment, and your internal environment.

You should always seek medical attention if the pain persists > 1 week if it accompanied by fever, a persistent headache, pain/numbness/tingling or weakness in arm, nausea or vomiting, night sweats, or if it occurs after a traumatic injury such as an accident or sports injury.

Your external environment:

  1. Computer – When doing computer work, the monitor should be positioned so that it is 15-20 degrees below eye level. As a rule of thumb, the top of the monitor should be at, or just below eye level. (These rules change some if you wear bi-focals!) The keyboard should be positioned so that your elbows hang comfortably at your sides and are bent about 90 degrees. Avoid glare on your computer screen and take frequent rests from the computer!
  2. Cell phone texting – Yes, neck pain from texting has become so common that it has a name – “Text neck.” When you are texting you should use one hand to hold the phone at or near eye height, and the other hand to navigate the screen and text. Also, limit your time texting and take frequent breaks.
  3. Driving – When you are driving your seat should be adjusted to 100 degrees (Just back slightly from fully erect), your hands should be at 3:00 and 9:00 on the steering wheel and your elbows should rest comfortably on the arm rests, and your head should be supported with the head rest touching the middle part of the back of your head.
  4. Pillow – Most of us spend at least 6-8 hours in bed every night so your sleeping position and pillow can make a huge difference in how your neck feels. You should sleep on your back or side, and avoid sleeping on your stomach as that position forces you to rotate your neck to one side or the other. If you sleep on your side, the pillow should fill the space between your ear and the mattress without tilting your head. If you sleep on your back, your pillow should keep your head from tilting back or forwards.

Your internal environment:

  1. Postural awareness – Forward head and slouched shoulders can be major factors in the neck and shoulder tightness and discomfort, but the problem may start further “down the chain.” Check in with your posture frequently beginning at your feet and moving up making sure that your body is well supported and aligned.
  2. Eyes – Give your eyes a break. When working on the computer, reading, driving – take frequent breaks. Focusing at one distance for extended periods of time can cause eye strain, which can in turn result in neck tightness. Also, keep up with regular eye appointments and keep your vision prescriptions up to date.
  3. Breathing – Our primary breathing muscle should be our diaphragm located at the base of the rib cage, but overtime we may begin over using our accessory muscles and under using our diaphragm. Many of these accessory muscles are located along the sides of the neck and when overused result in neck tightness. Spend some time every day just breathing and focusing on breathing deeply into the bases of the lungs so that you increase your use of your diaphragm.
  4. Stress and anxiety – Most of us experience some level of stress every day – it’s just part of life! Everyone responds to stress differently, and many of us carry that stress in our shoulders and neck. Learn to manage your stress at healthy levels and be aware of how your stress may be contributing to your neck discomfort. The good news is that just breathing deeply and slowly can help bring a better balance to your stress levels.

While the neck and shoulder tightness will usually resolve to a tolerable level on its own, ongoing tightness can lead to chronic issues such as arthritis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and rotator cuff issues. Physical Therapy can help you address neck and shoulder discomfort by providing a complete assessment, and then using manual techniques, neuromuscular techniques and exercises, and education to help improve your posture and movement patterns.

If you feel that you would benefit from Physical Therapy for your neck tightness or discomfort, contact Katey to set up an appointment. Other offerings at Posabilities to help address pain and stiffness include yoga therapy, energy and body work, as well as yoga and movement classes, click here for a calendar of all classes.

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Yoga Wall at Posabilties

Katey B Yoga WallThe original design is based on BKS Iyengar’s principle of alignment and is used to deepen asana by opening and creating space in the body using therapeutic techniques.  Our yoga wall offers you the opportunity to work out by changing your gravity.  The wall allows you to access deep core muscles, rather than relying on skeletal muscles for movement.

The benefits of using the yoga wall:

  • Helps you to do many poses successfully.
  • Lengthens your spine and opens up your joints.
  • You can strengthen hard-to-build muscles.
  • You can use to develop and improve your inversions without fear.

Katey B and Hedy Yoga wall open house IIClick here to visit our class calendar and plan to attend a class; we look forward to helping you develop your practice.

 

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Physical Therapy | Yoga | Wellness in Norway, Maine