Workshops

IREST MEDITATION AND SOUND BATH

Next class : 

 Saturday JUNE 24, 2017 4:00-5:15pm.

Join Jennifer Reuter at OBP for a once-a-month IRest session.  She will include a brief overview of the practice and a Sound Bath to prepare the body for deep relaxation.

Irest stands for Integrative Restoration and is also known as yoga nidra. This is a 30-minute meditation technique where you lie down and completely relax, reduce your stress, and restore your energy. iRest is a  “research-based”  transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry.  Irest is currently being utilized in VA hospitals, military bases, hospitals and clinics, hospices, homeless shelters, community programs, and schools. Research has shown that it effectively reduces PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and chemical dependency while increasing health, resiliency, and well-being.

Sound bathing is the sound of harmonic vibrations created by singing bowls, gongs and other highly resonant instruments. It can stimulate the alpha and theta brain waves that are associated with deep meditative and peaceful states that are highly conducive to healing. Sound can also slow down the heart and respiratory rate, creating a therapeutic effect on the mind and body. When the brain waves and body are synchronized, balance can be restored and stress released.

Come join us once a month to relax and counter all the over-stimulation we get in our daily lives. Learn this powerful tool and have it available to use anywhere and anytime.

You will receive a recording to take with you for your home use.

$25 drop-in ($60 if you buy 3-class package)

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Men get NO pain but BIG gains from Pilates

by Lisa Ortega Loya

I am excited to say that there has been a resurgence of more men doing Pilates in my studio and around the world.  A common misconception about Pilates is that it is just for women.  After all, Joe Pilates was as macho as they come.  He was a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking German boxer, diver, wrestler and bodybuilder.  He designed his system for men (soldiers in WW1), and he would be proud to see that more men are finally using Pilates and reaping the benefits.

While men are still in the minority in Pilates classes, that doesn’t stop some of the world’s top male athletes. They know that Pilates incorporates flexibility, stability, mobility, posture, balance, functional strength and endurance training.  In short, Pilates is beneficial to their overall fitness and athletic performance. 

Some of the top athletes who have used Pilates are:

Roger Federer and Andy Murray – Tennis

Tiger Woods – Golf

Antonio Brown and Martellus Bennett – Football

Christiano Ronaldo and David Beckham – Soccer

Curt Schilling – Baseball

David Boudia – Olympic Diver

Pilates builds the body from the inside out.  A strong outer body built on a weak inner core is like a house built on a fractured foundation.  Both are unstable and likely to break down over time.

So I asked my male clients what is “finally” bringing them in.  Some are feeling pain and restricted in their daily activities.  They are motivated to move better, keep surgeries at bay, and increase the years they can perform at their sport.  Some play golf, surf, tennis, and hike and feel the need for better balance.  Others are feeling the “fear” of having pain and love the results from the proper integration of the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle, as well as efficient breathing.  They realize that weight training is not always functional and leaves them feeling tense with stiff muscles instead of relaxed and balanced from Pilates.  They say Pilates helps them to work smarter, not harder.  Another male client said his “sports performance is 30%” better with taking just one weekly Pilates Mat class.

So, men, you don’t need to give up your beer or weights, but you may want to learn some of these tried-and-true techniques so you can stay active for a long time to come.

Why does the Pilates studio equipment look like torture racks? 

By Lisa Ortega Loya

I hear this a lot from first-timers entering the studio. It can be intimidating seeing all those springs, straps, and pulleys. Joe Pilates developed his system during World War I with wounded soldiers who were in hospital beds. If they had wounded legs, he would make the others parts of their bodies move and, as a result, he was very effective in helping these soldiers in their healing process. The Cadillac apparatus that is used today looks like a four-poster bed with lots of springs and straps born out of his original design. Today we call it the Tower, and our studio offers a group class of 5 students. We also have other Pilates equipment such as the Reformer, Wunda Chair, and Ladder Barrel which many other studios do not use. Each piece of equipment is unique and helpful for different body shapes, and sizes and issues.

Another reason why the studio setting looks so primitive is that students do not get a cozy seat to do a bicep curl or rowing exercise like traditional gym equipment. Students are core-challenged by putting their own bodies in the correct position and working on precision of movement with mindfulness and total concentration. The strength of the system, our body, comes from the whole system working together. Pilates is engaging your mind, breath and every part of your body with each exercise. It is functional, dynamic movement which is how the body is used in daily life.

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  Holiday Tension By Lisa Ortega Loya

If your neck and shoulders are already tight and sore when combined with a little holiday stress and busy-ness, you will find your shoulders up next to your ears. The shape of your shoulders should look more like a coat hanger versus a football player with pads on. What shape do your shoulders have? Here is a simple Franklin Method technique that can be done anywhere and at anytime to relieve shoulder tension.

Begin by slowly lifting your shoulders up to your ears and slowly down. What do they feel like? Smooth or clunky? Relaxed or tense? Easeful or painful? Many of us would choose the latter answers. Let’s see if we can make a change.

With your left arm by your side, place your right hand on your left neck and shoulder area. Lift your left shoulder up to your ear and squeeze the muscles with your right hand as you would a sponge that has been filled with cool water. As you lower your shoulder and release the squeeze, imagine a cool waterfall running down your relaxed arm. Inhale as you repeat the motion of lifting your shoulder to your ear as you squeeze and exhale as you lower your shoulder down allowing the waterfall to drip down your left arm. Deep breathing while you are doing this is important. Repeat 8-10 times.

Now brush all the excess water down your arm toward your fingers and notice the difference between your two arms. Is the side you worked on more relaxed, energized, lower, softer?

Repeat the whole practice using your left hand on your right neck and shoulder.

Our muscles are made up mostly of water, so it can be helpful to understand that they slide, glide and have buoyancy. While you are imagining a waterfall running down your arm, can you feel the cool water? Can you hear the sound of the waterfall? We are so lucky to live on this beautiful island, where waterfalls are abundant. The clearer your image, adding in as many other senses as possible, you will create a better result.

After you have completed both sides, slowly lift and lower both shoulders to see if you feel any change or improvement.

Do this practice several times a day. With consistency, it becomes better and easier.
Have a joyful and easeful holiday season.

 

Sitting Is the New Smoking By Lisa Ortega Loya

We know sitting too much is not good for us, but yet we find ourselves spending hours at a time on our computer or in front of the television, probably not in an ideal posture. We can address “how to sit” another time, but today let’s train the body and the brain that sitting too long in poor posture can cause many problems such as back pain, decreased blood flow to and from the heart, pressure on the internal organs and restrictions with the diaphragm and breathing.

The surgeon general has warned us about the harmful effects of smoking. I wonder if he will ever add warning labels to some chairs stating, “Sitting in this chair too long can be hazardous to your health.”

Here are a few tips to help combat the forward posture that causes the chest muscles to tighten leading to a rounded curve in the upper back and weakness in the upper back muscles.

Set your phone alarm for 15 minutes and get out of your chair and walk around. Take several deep breaths and move your shoulders around in a circle. Repeat every 15 minutes.

While taking your break from sitting, go to a doorway and stand directly next to it. Place your feet hip-width apart with your right hand and elbow on the frame at a 90-degree angle. Step forward with your right foot into a lunge. Your right shoulder is now in front of your elbow and hand that are still on the frame. You should feel a good stretch across your right chest and shoulder muscles.

Take some full inhales and full exhales while gently moving your head to the left and right (like you are saying “no”) without forcing a stretch. Continue moving your neck but this time tilt your right ear to your right shoulder and your left hear to you left shoulder. We call this (tick-tock). Stay on this right side for at least 30 seconds.

Return your feet together then turn around and repeat the exercise (left hand and elbow on the frame at a 90-degree angle). Step forward with your left foot into a lunge. This can be repeated several times a day. If one side is a lot tighter than the other, repeat that side a third time. If you feel pain or pinching in the shoulder, lower your elbow and hand down or take a smaller lunge forward.

For strengthening the upper back muscles, lean against a blank wall with your knees slightly bent and feet hip-width apart. Press your lower back to the wall by using your abdominals to tuck your pelvis. Stretch your arms out straight to a letter T-shape and do your best to press the back of your hands flat to the wall as well as the back of your head. Take several deep breaths. If you can easily do this position, you can progress by moving your arms into “cactus” position, i.e., elbows bent at 90 degrees. The challenge here again is to keep the back of your wrists, elbows and shoulders flush with the wall while keeping the pelvis tucked. There should be no space between your back and the wall. Relax as best you can as you breathe and hold this position for 30 seconds.

Although this upper back strengthening exercise is great to do before you sit to “turn on” the upper back muscles, it can be done anytime throughout the day.

The basic premise of Pilates is to stretch what is tight and to strengthen what is weak. Here we are stretching the over-tight front muscles and strengthening the weakened upper back muscles.