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FASCIA and pilates

Fascia: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How We Use It in Pilates

WHAT IS FASCIA?

Fascia is a fibrous type of connective tissue in the human body that preserves physical shape by enclosing discrete elements such as organs and muscles. It exists throughout the entire body. In fact, the deepest layer encloses every single cell!

FASCIA CREATES FORM IN THE HUMAN BODY

Fascia can be found throughout the muscle tissue, encasing bands of muscle and enveloping the entire muscle and its tendon. It also exists directly underneath the skin, functioning like a final envelope around the entire body. In other words, fascia creates both separation of body parts and unity of the whole body.  Without fascia, our body wouldn’t be able to hold its shape. We’d slide off our skeletons!

FASCIA AND MOVEMENT

Healthy fascia allows the muscles, organs, nerves, and blood vessels to slide along each other, essentially allowing the body to move without falling apart. To effectively fulfill this role, fascia needs to be both structural and mobile. It needs movement to stay hydrated and flexible. In the absence of movement, fascia becomes dry, hard, and stiff. It then begins to inhibit movement. Lack of movement creates more lack of movement, and the cycle continues! Fascia can also become rigid from injury, years of moving inefficiently, and not moving enough.

Recognizing the presence of fascia and understanding its role in the body are essential in the practice of Pilates. Through the use of soft rollers and balls, fluid full-body movement, and kinetic imagery, fascia can be softened and hydrated so it can function at its best.

MYO-FASCIAL MERIDIANS

Fascia, along with muscle, creates long myofascial bands that can be traced from head to foot. This concept is very important to movement educators as we use these vertical meridians to assess alignment and identify imbalances.

For example, the underneath of your foot (plantar fascia) can promote flexibility up the posterior myofascial chain to the low back and sometimes even to the head and face. If you’ve tried rolling the bottom of your foot on a pinky ball, you may have observed this holistic effect.

Additionally, movement educators use the knowledge of myofascial lines to create movement cues that engage the entire body, giving the students a sense of physical wholeness. For example, when instructing a side bend, a student may be asked to sense the stretch not just through the ribs and waist but also from the edge of the foot all the way to the back of the palm. This kind of attention builds full-body awareness and can “rewire” mind-body connections to improve functional coordination.

Learning about fascia helps us to understand that the body doesn’t only work as a mechanical set of levers and pulleys. The biomechanical body can be a useful construct, but a more inclusive model takes into account the holistic unifying force of fascia.

Maintaining healthy fascia is important and easy. You just have to move fully every day and practice mind-body techniques such as Pilates to exercise your proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. 

To learn more about Fascia and how to optimize your movement potential contact us at info@mongoosebw.com

Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering customized private sessions designed for your exact needs.

Halle Clarke NCPT is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York based Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.

Top Pilates Instructors in NYC

Top Pilates Instructors in NYC

With so many Pilates Studios popping up how do you know which one is best for you? And how do you know which ones have the top Pilates instructors in NYC.
I have been the owner of Mongoose Bodyworks in Soho NYC for almost 20 years. A big part of my job is hiring Pilates instructors whom I think will be best at their job. First I pre-interview the instructor on the telephone . This initial conversation tells me a lot. Are they mature, confident professional? If that goes well we meet in person . I spend another half hour asking them about their background, goals and availability. It’s also an important time for them to ask me questions . My studio has to be a good fit for them as well. Now I am half way to determining if this teacher has the potential to be a top Pilates instructor.
The next step is by far the most important. I have them give me a lesson. I have done this for so long I usually know within the first ten minutes if they are right for Mongoose Bodyworks NYC.  I look for how they set up exercises, and if they cue movements clearly and with detail.  I ask myself do they touch in a way that informs or distracts , does the progression of exercises make sense and flow from one to the next, are they teaching a session tailored to what they see in me or going by rote?
The answers to these questions predict if they can work with a wide range of bodies all with individual needs. Many of our clientele are; recovering from injury, working to maintain pain free with scoliosis, pre or post natal or just have a unique body that requires unique attention. And whomever I hire needs to be able to adapt to this  vast array of human  variation. And if they can , I can almost guarantee they will soon develop into a  top Pilates Instructor.

Halle Clarke

2nd Generation Master Pilates Instructor

To experience some of the finest hand picked Pilates instructors in NYC  email us at info@mongoosebw.com or call 212 431 8377.

Mongoose Bodyworks 594 Broadway #904 ( between Houston and Prince in Soho) NYC 10012


Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering customized private sessions designed for your exact needs.

Halle is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York based Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.

Strengthening the Gluteals 101

Strengthening the Gluteals 101

Keeping your gluteal muscles ( butt muscles) strong is an important element to creating healthy full body motions such as climbing stairs, getting out of a chair and most athletic activities. This short sequence will give you a great starting point to creating strong and limber gluteal muscles.

First you’ll want to stretch your quadriceps and hip flexors to ensure that shortness in these muscle groups aren’t inhibiting full access to your glutes.

PRONE QUAD HIP STRETCH

QUAD STRETCH PRONE

Lye prone. Press both hip bones onto the mat. Lightly draw the space under your belly button. Reach back and hold onto one foot or use a strap. This position should not hurt your knee. Instead you should feel a pull on the front of your thigh. Gently push your foot into your hand or strap and hold for 5 seconds. Then pull the foot toward your butt , feeling a reach through the thigh for a two full breath cycles. Repeat 5X. Do other side.

 

KNEELING HIP FLEXOR LUNGE

KNEELING HIP FLEXOR LUNGE

Do this exercise near a wall and use your hand closest to the wall for balance. Make sure to do this on a soft mat to protect your knees.

Come into the kneeling lunge as pictured. Level your hips as much as possible. Draw your pubic bone up to engage your abdominals and draw the back of the pelvis down. This creates a posterior pelvic tuck to maximize the stretch directly in front of the hip socket. To increase the stretch move your pelvis and spine as one unit forward toward your front leg. Your front knee will bend a bit further. Stay in the stretch for 5 seconds and then back out of it , do10 x. Then go into the stretch one last time and remain there for 5 full breath cycles. As you’re breathing visualize length up through your spine.

 

Now you are ready to strengthen your gluteals. This set focuses on targeting your Gluteus Maximus the largest and most powerful of the gluteal muscles.

PRONE STRAIGHT LEG LIFTS

PRONE STRAIGHT LEG LIFTS

Lye face down with your hands under your forehead. Gentle press your pubic bone into the mat and feel a gentle lift of the abdominals. With a straight knee lift one leg off of the mat while keeping the pelvis still. Imagine the front of your thigh sliding away from your ASIS, anterior hip bone. You should feel the gluteal muscle engage when the leg is only an inch or two off of the mat.

This exercise can also be done with a bent knee to more intensely target the glutes .

Do 10-30 reps

Note: If you feel this in your lower back you are either going too high, doing too many reps or engaging the muscles in your lumbar spine too early in the motion. Try sitting back into a child’s pose to relax and length this muscle group and then do the leg lift again.

NUETRAL PELVIC LIFTS

NUETRAL PELVIC LIFTS

Lye onto your back with your knees bent and heels in line with your sitbones. Press into the heels to prepare the posterior leg to engage. Keeping the pelvis level , like you have a cup of tea on your belly button, lift your hips up and hold for three breath cycles. Repeat 5-8 times.

MONKEY SQUATS

MONKEY SQUATS

Stand with your feet parallel. As you bend your knees pretend you are sitting down in a chair that is very far behind you, reach your sitbones for the chair. Counter balance your upper body by leaning forward and bringing your arms up , all with a flat back. This creates a hinge only at the hips , so the motion is occurring at the hip , knees and ankles and not the spine. Before coming back up actively press into the feet , feeling the whole foot on the floor.

Repeat 10-50 x

Always good to end a set of exercises with a stretch, as tight muscles often create dysfunction if they go unchecked for too long.

FIGURE FOUR STRETCH

FIGURE FOUR STRETCH

Lying on your back cross your right foot over the left knee. Pull your left knee into your chest and breath for 6 long breath cycles. Visualize the posterior muscles melting and widening. Repeat on the other side.

To learn more about healthy movement patterns, strengthening exercises and physical wellbeing contact Mongoose Bodyworks in Soho New York City.

Halle Clarke Owner and 2nd Generation Pilates Instructor

 

 

 

 

 

A Holistic Approach to Wellbeing

A holistic approach to wellbeing in NYC; Pilates and Naturopathy

It’s no surprise that Pilates is on the rise – with a focus on efficient movement and core awareness, there’s a lot to love about this mind body fitness program. At the same time, Naturopathic medicine – a holistic and natural approach to healing – has become a welcome health alternative for many.

While the two disciplines may seem worlds apart, they both value looking at the whole body, illness prevention, and educating their clients.

The Total You

 The most obvious connection between Pilates and naturopathy? A holistic approach.

While naturopathy differs from traditional medicine in numerous ways, one of the most powerful is its concern for the “whole” you. This means considering a range of factors including physical, mental, and environmental conditions of a patient.

Similarly, Pilates exercises consider the whole body. The body works best when it is experienced as an integrated whole and not compartmentalized into unrelated parts. A painful knee may be a misalignment in the back and a misaligned neck and cause problems lower down. Because of this whole body approach Pilates delivers a whole body experience and workout.

 

Prevention

 

Because Pilates focuses on moving with proper mechanics one is constantly learning and reinforcing efficient and safe ways of moving. These new patterns will carry over into other disciplines like sports, as well as help guide an aging body. This attention to alignment and moving well prevents injury down the road.

For Naturopathy patients, prevention is also critical. Whereas traditional medicine typically operates on a diagnose-treat basis, many Naturopathy professionals try to predict health issues and complications before they occur.

Wellness With Education

A final commonality between Pilates and naturopathy: proper education.

Both disciplines involve a personal client – teacher and patient-doctor relationship. Most of all, Pilates and naturopathy are built on the idea of ongoing education, improvement, and self-discovery. With the goal of empowering clients to take care of themselves as a lifestyle and prevent dis-ease in the future.

 

This means a qualified and knowledgeable guide is critical. If you are interested in exploring therapeutic Pilates and naturopathy in NYC , the experts at Mongoose Bodyworks and Dr. Maura can help. Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates is located in Soho NYC convenient to many subways. Dr Maura is located Chelsea, NYC. We look forward to meeting you!

Pilates and Physical Therapy

Pilates And Physical Therapy: A Two-Part Approach

 Pilates and physical therapy. Two separate disciplines with different objectives, right?

 

In truth, Pilates and physical therapy (PT) have much in common – including a history rooted in building strength and maintaining mobility. Although the approaches may differ based on skill sets; pain free function and individual attention are two of many common threads that link the two disciplines.

Pain Free Function :The most important connection between Pilates and PT

For physical therapists, the approach to pain begins with pathology: searching for the structural drivers, both neuromuscular and articular, of a patient’s pain. PTs can then use techniques like manual therapy, strength training and movement re-patterning to help eliminate pain. Somewhat surprisingly, the practice of Pilates was also born out of a desire to help individuals recover from painful injuries. In fact, Joseph Pilates’ first innovation was attaching springs to hospital beds to help bedridden patients build strength. Still today Pilates maintains a place in the physical rehabilitative community for addressing pain.

Both modalities look to improve alignment, joint articulation and mobility, movement control and fluidity as means to becoming pain free. Because of this major overlap in objectives Pilates acts as an ideal transition out of PT and back into movement and sports.

 Individual Attention : Another link between Pilates and physical therapy? They’re built on the idea of a close relationship.

A physical therapist is a licensed medical professional. They diagnose and treat injuries – with the goal of eliminating pain. Of course, this calls for an open and intimate relationship with their patient.

Likewise, Pilates instructors are frequently tasked with developing new movement strategies and approaches based on observing their client’s unique movement patterns which also requires a very individual and personal relationship with their client.

A Path Towards Better Health?

When practiced together, Pilates and physical therapy can truly be the cornerstone of an overall recovery and health plan. With a shared focus on eliminating pain and restoring function through personal attention, the two modalities are not just complimentary but collaborative. When both practitioners are working in collaboration they can more effectively re-educate patients away from movement compensations that may cause a return of pain and dysfunction. We have found at Thrive PT and Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates that an open dialogue between PT and Pilates instructor has guaranteed the success of our patients and clients.

 Recover And Rebuild With Experts

 If you are interested in exploring Pilates or physical therapy in NYC soho, you need guidance from comprehensively trained professionals. Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates and Thrive Physical Therapy can help you recover and rebuild, even in the wake of an injury. With open atmospheres, and highly qualified staff, there are few better places to begin your recovery or fitness journey. You’ll be able to build strength, increase flexibility, and enjoy a more mobile life.

To get started with a consultation, contact Thrive Physical Therapy and Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates , New York, Soho.

 

 

Pilates and Scoliosis in Soho NYC

Pilates and Scoliosis in Soho NYC

Scoliosis is a medical condition involving sideways curvatures of the spine.  When looking at the spine from behind a scoliotic spine makes either an “S” or “C” shape instead of a straight vertical line. Scoliosis usually begins in adolescence but may also develop in adulthood. A diagnosis can be  confirmed by an X-ray that demonstrates lateral deviations of ten degrees or more. However, even smaller non-scoliotic curvatures  may be a source of physical discomfort.

scoli2

The cause of most scoliosis is unknown but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors and can be related to neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Structural Scoliosis refers to structural changes in the vertebrae that create a “fixed” curvature. Functional Scoliosis is essentially a severe muscular imbalance as the underlying spine is physically normal. Scoliosis is often a combination of the two.

The lateral curves that characterize scoliosis are accompanied by rotations in the sagittal and transverse planes, causing the spine to spiral and alter the transmission of forces from head to toe. These 3-dimensional rotations appear as one hip higher than the other, uneven shoulders and prominent ribs on one side. The physical imbalances can cause pain in the low back, ribcage and neck and well as nerve symptoms down one leg. Pilates can help relieve the physical pain and spasming that can result from scoliosis by unwinding  these 3 dimension spirals through elongation of the spine, centering the torso and creating more muscular balance throughout the body as a whole.

scoliosis-1-768x445

Pilates teaches exercises that create natural length in the spine through muscular engagement, so the spine can be “pulled” out of these spirals. The curves themselves also must be directly addressed as there is often muscular hypertrophy on the long side of the curve due to the body trying to right itself. Pilates teachers are trained to teach with the specificity that is necessary for correcting and managing the curvatures. Once the deviations are lessened then the core is strengthened  to help  “set” the changes.  A functional/muscular scoliosis will respond very successfully to a Pilates program. A  structural scoliosis cannot be undone but can be  to be managed very effectively with Pilates so that painful muscular compensations don’t get out of control.

At Mongoose Bodyworks we have helped clients with both structural and functional scoliosis with great success. We have brought our clients much  relief and improved well being. Please contact us with any questions you may have about your body.