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UNC Paws: The Power of Cute

Universities have tried this sort of therapy for stressed students, allowing “puppy petting stations” and found that students were calmer and more relaxed after a few minutes of kanine time. Neuro-scientists are now training them to help with veterans suffering from PTSD.

Dogs are able to be our eyes, our ears and now, help ease our minds. These amazing creatures really are a best friend.

-UNC Health Care via Neuroscience News

Puppy Power: Using Puppies to help Veterans with PTSD


Mighty kale and all of it’s glory

Photo Credit: WebMD.com

Photo Credit: WebMD.com

Ok, it’s been out there for awhile that kale is no ordinary green. Particularly in Vancouver, it draws a LOT of attention because not only is it delicious and versatile, but it grows throughout the winter months which is pretty cool when you’ve got weather like ours.

So what is special about kale other than the taste? It is the epitome of a superfood! Here are some quick facts (from WebMD) about kale’s nutritional content:

-One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

-Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

-Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

-Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

If you have seen this green in the market but have shied away from it because you have absolutely no clue what to do with it, here are some super tasty recipes that incorporate all the might of kale:

This light yet fulfilling salad: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2012/01/spicy-peanut-ginger-kale-salad.html

This refreshing smoothie (get ON that green drink bandwagon, they rock): http://www.wholeliving.com/185519/kale-pineapple-and-almond-milk-smoothie

This tasty side to an Indian feast: http://www.holycowvegan.net/2009/03/kale-subzi.html

These chips that you have nothing to feel guilty about (seriously, if you try any of these recipes, give this one a try first): http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2010/07/totally-addictive-kale-crisps-2/

Or, if you are like me, you can always massage some raw chopped kale with ginger-garlic-miso dressing and throw in any other favorable salad topping. Sauteed tofu or pumpkin seeds are always a tasty addition.

For more health info on kale, check out WebMD’s page on it.


Farming for the modern individual

Photo Credit: Modern Farmer

Photo Credit: Modern Farmer

Looking to get into gardening/ farming, but kind of want to avoid feeling like a hick or weirdo for doing so? Check out this AMAZING magazine, The Modern Farmer.Designed to bridge the gap between where your food comes from and your table, this periodical boasts fun articles such as “How do grow your own cocktail” and tons of great DIY projects to get you outside and involved. Super cool stuff!

What, you think that we are just a little too excited about this crazy mag? Well, we aren’t alone. This baby is already on backorder for the hard copies.

Seems like a fun read for the upcoming sunny days to say the least.


Where did we hear about it? This Vitamin Daily Article. Check their site out as well for other interesting snippets for health and wellness.

Seattle and Martha Eddy

“It was great to see Dr. Martha Eddy in Seattle this summer. Her program, Dynamic Embodiment, which I took over 6 years ago, really changed the way I was teaching and even living. I am still – and will always be – processing the learning from Martha and her faculty.
Taking a week to move the universe within me through her Body Mind Dancing teachings (one of many teachings), was my idea of restoration for this summer. I was very excited at feeling the blood in my bones for the first time so clearly. It felt strong, and resilient; “juicy bones” is what Martha calls them. Every system of the body has a role to play. Both the form and function give specific qualities to each system that can be named. Moving with specific qualities can help us embody specific systems. For myself, moving from my bones after spending so much time moving with the qualities of several of the body fluids made the obvious connection to “juicy bones”.
I also enjoyed the work on the adrenals and stimulus. We were asked to evaluate our interpretations and given the option to re-frame the stimulus in our perceptions. It reminded me of my studies in chronic pain. The mind has tremendous power over our bodies for better or for worse. Consciously, we can always improve things for ourselves. When the threat to our lives is gone and we are still reacting to stimulus, we can examine the stimulus and re-frame it in a non threatening way. It is great to work on this while moving because the mind and body work together to discover ourselves and our potential to ultimately be better people.
The somatic work and especially the experience that Martha and her colleagues provide, has helped clarify my most important daily exercise; to move my truth with consciousness and with my whole self. – Danielle McCulloch

Reading recommendations

If you were looking for some extra information regarding Pilates, anatomy or body-related information, there are a number of books that The Movement Studio recommends. We use some of these in our Teacher Training program and also point clients in the direction of these volumes if someone is looking to further his or her knowledge base. Check them out from your local library or buy them from your independent local book store.

Explain Pain by David Butler and Lorimer G. Moseley
Butler and Moseley are part of the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia  — an independent, international group of physiotherapists dedicated to quality pain education and manual therapy and allied health resource distribution. The book aims to “give clinicians and people in pain the power to challenge pain and to consider new models for viewing what happens during pain. Once they have learnt about the processes involved they can follow a scientific route to recovery.”

We have a number of classes at The Movement Studio that deal specifically with pain like the Well Back series. We also run classes for pain prevention like Pilates for runners.

Natural Intelligence by Susan Aposhyan.
The author “developed Body-Mind Psychotherapy as an application of Body-Mind Centering to the process of psychotherapy.” Many people that do Pilates and participate in other physical activities know first-hand the mind-body connection, whether it’s from getting a “runner’s high” to feeling blissed out from a deep stretching session.

Aposhyan writes: “by natural intelligence, I mean the synergistic intelligence that arises out of including all the resources of every tissue and fluid in the body. Every system of the body has its own unique abilities to perceive and respond. For both cultural and evolutionary reasons, we ignore and override both sensory input and behavioral responses which arise outside the nervous system. Including and integrating the intelligence and creativity of the entire body is natural intelligence.”

Many clients at The Movement Studio come away from classes feeling like they’ve encountered their bodies at a whole new level — try a Private session to get a hands-on assessment to start getting your mind to discover what your body already knows.

Check back in for more reading recommendations soon.

Letting Go and Engaging

Letting go is such a funny thing. Our minds have mischievous ways of trapping us in this ever-changing life. What does it mean when we say someone is in control, under control, out of control, or taking control? Was there anything to control to begin with? My thoughts about control came to me in a workshop 5 years ago with Salique Savage.

We were in partners and were holding each other’s wrists. We were to engage in a movement dialogue where one person would input force the way they wanted, the partner would receive it in the way they wanted and send force back. It was a sort of dance. Salique asked us to move our bodies like sails. Sails use the wind to move the boat.Picture 1The wind can change and we are not in control of what the wind will do, but we can use our sail to make the best out of what the wind is giving us. We had a very hard time finding our sails. Our mind habits, I discovered are also our movement habits. Habits as we all know are very hard to break, so it was not “smooth sailing”.

The movement dialogue often did not sequence well. Some of us moved and moved and moved into our partner seeking some pressure back to work with while the other partner buckled joints, unable to sequence information into them and give outwardly. This often happened when we were afraid to hurt someone or do the wrong thing. The incessant moving person was not waiting to get information from their partner. (Monologue versus conversation) Imagine that relationship. Or, the other thing that happened is that one partner anticipated and tried to help the other partner by moving for them.  This was also disastrous because if I could not take care of myself and let my partner know what I wanted, he had nothing to work with, but himself and my assumptions of him. I was neither taking in his input nor digesting it to form an opinion about it and act on it. Imagine that relationship.

So do we really need to “take control” or do we need to engage in the world in a mindful way that encourages to balance our taking and inner processing with giving and outer action. It can be very hard to stay true to ourselves and stay engaged or attuned to one person or a group.  When you take in information, digest it, form an idea, or impulse, act on it, and realize it didn’t work or it hurt someone, it can be discouraging. Conversely, when you receive information that is disagreeable to you, it may be hard to stay engaged or to fully take in the information and process. We may limit ourselves to new experiences in this way. Sometimes we stay engaged too long when we clearly need a break or a change even.

All of the phrases I had known came racing back to me. “Be with, not for”, “help others to help themselves”, “help yourself first so you may help others”, “it can be hard to live your truth, but there is a rightness to it”. The experience of how hard it was for me to do this in a movement experience was shocking. It felt like I could not stop trying so hard to be right and as a result, I couldn’t be myself. I had thought I was over it, but it was a lingering habit.

Salique did not mention any of this. I love his simple brilliance. It was my own little “aha”. I love how in somatic practice, the teacher can plant one little nugget of information that can vomit into a huge life realization. That is why I continue a movement practice. It keeps me developing myself and likewise those that interact with me and vice versa.

That brings me to the letting go part. I had this dream that a Lion was trying to approach me to eat me.Picture 2No matter where I went, it would find a way in. The dream woke me up, and then I was so much in an alerted state by trying to escape the lion that I couldn’t go back to sleep. In wondering how I would calm down so I could sleep, I though that I needed to get out of the fight state. So I tried to control the dream so that the lion would go away. That didn’t work. Then I realized that I was fighting my dream where it maybe was not necessary to fight. So I decided to let the lion eat me. It started at my legs and worked its way up and I don’t know what happened next because I fell into a very deep sleep. Well I do know what happened. The lion got what he wanted, and I got what I wanted.

Finding Balance – Listening to the Nervous System

“The Present is a Gift…” Eleanor Roosevelt

The nervous system is the messenger system in our body and it is busy. It prioritizes what we pay attention to and what we can ignore. Sometimes we ignore signs and symptoms that we should pay attention to, because they are not convenient. Unfortunately the signs and symptoms will increase until you pay attention. Don’t wait until it is too late.

There will always be important matters to take care of your whole life. There will be many obligations and many distractions. Health is a life in balance, and attending to this balance is what will allow you to enjoy the matters you wish to attend to. Family, friends, spirit, play, work, stimulation, rest, good nutrition, sleep, and exercise all need a place on the pie chart of your life. Learning to listen to your body will help you to make better choices about all of these aspects of your life, reduce your stress, enjoy your life more fully, and provide good role modeling for everyone you interact with.

We need a sense of self to know what we want, and when things are not right within. We all get signs and symptoms of stress, but we are not always listening. Sometimes we don’t know how to listen.

It is important to listen because if your body is not handling stress well, there will be physiological ramifications. Fatigue, burn out, high blood pressure, heart disease, decreased immunity, and chronic fatigue syndrome to name a few.

Danielle McCulloch 2007