I never thought that making a small adjustment to the way I was breathing would make such a huge difference in my life. Then I met movement educators Melissa Gutierrez and Kim Lien-Kendall, and my entire perception of this natural function changed.
There was, of course, an aha moment. While lying on my back, Melissa placed her hand on my sternum and asked me to inhale while imagining that I was pushing her hand up and away from my chest. (Many people actually breathe from their belly, not their upper body. Try it. You'll see.)
I inhaled, sucking all the oxygen into my chest and tried launching her hand to the moon. Almost immediately, the air was pierced by a loud crack-the sound of a painful knot in my back dissipating. It was the sound of instant relief.
Maybe you've already heard of the Alexander and Feldenkrais Methods-two types of popular movement education. (Victoria "Posh" Beckham is a fan of the former, while Whoopi Goldberg is a Feldenkrais devotee.) Yet there are many facets to these somatic exercises, and adjusting the breath is just one.
Melissa and Kim, all-star movement educators and Zeel Experts, tout these subtle techniques for their capacity to help people develop healthier movement patterns, whether by adjusting a client's stance or bringing awareness to which foot they carry more weight in. Here are three ways movement education can help you too.
Prevent injury. If you've ever complained of muscle soreness after a vigorous workout, then you may be forgetting the fact that your body is also made up of bones, tendons, joints, ligaments and other structures. More often than not, aches and pains are caused by several factors, not just the muscles, and the whole body needs to be addressed when rehabilitating an injury in order to prevent future damage. A movement educator uses gentle, hands-on techniques, as well as props such as blankets, massage tables and diagrams, to teach you how to care for your body as an entire entity, not individual parts.
Stand taller. Humans are born with three bones in their pinkie toes, Kim explains. Over time, because our feet are confined to shoes, these bones become fused together so there are only two. Why does this matter? Every aspect of your body, from the number of bones in your little piggies to the alignment of your hips, affects your ability to walk, climb stairs, sit and carry out other movements. By making slight adjustments to support or modify your body's idiosyncrasies, you can learn to move more efficiently and gracefully.
Put down the Advil. Movement education is an effective tool for relieving aches and ailments. Melissa, an authority on pain management through movement education, explains that anyone can use these subtle techniques to liberate their bodies from physical and emotional discomforts. Slight alterations to your breath, posture, and stance can help you manage chronic or acute pain.