Monday, 29 February 2016

everything Is connected

In this Ted Radio hour on NPR, TED speakers explain how everything in nature is connected, and how we can restore its delicate balance. It's brilliant and mind blowing and beautiful.

holding hands

"’s hard to remember—that we are not distinct individuals with our own separate problems. The vast interconnection of all phenomena is not a theory. All things constantly rise and fall together like it’s all holding hands."
— Black Hockey Jesus

(source: alltheloveintheuniverse)

Everything is Connected by Peter Liversidge

Saturday, 27 February 2016

week 7


After nearly a year of living out of suitcases, we moved into our first flat this week. It’s unfurnished and we have literally nothing to put into our new home, which, since I’m a fan of living furniture free (or at least furniture like sofas that take the human movement out of modern life), fills me with joy! Alas we will need to purchase a couple of essentials. Like a bed and something for my mother to sit on when she visits, but I will be enjoying not filling the place with things and having floor space to dance around and the move has inspired this weeks (and next's) movement challenge! Yay! It’s a long read because I felt it needed the Why The Hell!?! explanation before hand, but it’s a brilliant one, because it can be done while you sleep! 

On that note, how many pillows do you like to sleep with?

Pillows are often marketed for their ability to support the head and neck, relieve pain, and align the spine. Do any of these claims sound familiar? Yep, pillows have now become orthotics for the neck. The claims coming from specialty pillow retailers and foot orthotic sellers are almost identical, and both are based on the faulty premise that our bodies require external support to be healthy. 

No one is born needing a pillow to sleep. Our heads and necks are perfectly capable of resting without support. When we are young, our bodies are adaptable and can handle sleeping almost anywhere, but through continued use of pillows over time we become conditioned to feel like we need them. This introduction of pillows to children is largely driven by our culture. Throughout history there have been plenty of cultures that have slept without any support for their heads.
When you lie on your back there should be a space underneath your neck. The neck naturally has a C-shaped curve. A common recommendation is that a pillow should fill up this space to provide “support” for the neck. Saying that this arch in the neck needs support is the same faulty logic that gets applied to the arch of the foot. An arch gets support from its ends, not from propping it up in the middle. Without a pillow, lying flat provides traction to joints and creates space between the bones in the neck. All day while we are upright the force of gravity is compressing these joints. At night we can allow gravity to work in our favor to help lengthen the spine. Propping the head up with pillows takes away that benefit. 

Basically using pillows restrict movement. All tissues in the bodies need movement to remain healthy. We don’t move a great deal when we’re asleep, but movement still occurs as the body adjusts during the night to our sleeping surface. These natural movements are limited when we’re cradled and encased in pillows and to be healthy adaptable beings our bodies should be allowed to respond and adjust to whatever we’re sleeping on. 

It’s fine to use pillows sometimes, or even most of the time. But you should never HAVE TO use them. Sleeping with pillows is comfortable, but realise a large part of this is because we’ve accustomed ourselves to using pillows. A big part of keeping your body healthy is being adaptable, and this means being able to sleep comfortably no matter what your head is resting on.
So my challenge to you is this; Consider working your way down to being able to use a thin, flat pillow or nothing at all. If you would like to give a try, just be careful not to make the switch too quickly. The transition to sleeping without a pillow should be more like a marathon than a sprint. Your body is very resilient, but it will need some time to adapt to no longer using a pillow. The transition to no pillow took me just under 6 months, but it can take much longer. 

Here are some tips from a reformed sleeper (me) to help you on your way:

1. Use a folded towel or blanket as a pillow for the first few weeks. Start with the towel at the same height of your current pillow and gradually reduce the height of the towel by unfolding it. Take as long as you need to do this. If you are a two pillow sleeper then follow the same tip, but start with one pillow and a towel. Continue to reduce the towel height until you are able to lie flat.
2. Make sure to keep your neck aligned as you reduce your pillow, like we do in class in Savasana. If you are lying on your back, make sure that your chin is not pointing up towards the ceiling. For some people, it may be helpful to keep a small hand towel folded in half as a pillow to ensure proper alignment. Feel free to experiment to find out what works best for you.
3. As you decrease the towel height you can put some of those yoga neck and shoulder stretch’s to good use each morning/night.
4. For a while I kept my pillow on the floor or next to me in bed, just in case I woke needing it. A good nights sleep is the main goal ofcourse, adding some neck and shoulder adaptation while you do it is a bonus!

Shout out to Michael Tetley who conducted research on natural sleeping postures and found that nomadic people and forest dwellers sleeping with natural postures suffer from less muscular and skeletal problems compared to people in modern societies thus inspiring a whole host of brilliant movers to promote the above.

Now go, be pillow free! 

p.s. I'm a side sleeper mostly, just like the beauty in the picture, but i've noticed that sleeping without neck support has me sleeping comfortably on my back and front too.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

saturday poem

In the morning when the moon is at its rest,
you will find me, at the time I love the best
watching rainbows play on sunlight;
pools of water ice cream cold light, in the morning.
yeah yeah yeah
its the morning of my life.

In the daytime I will meet you as before.
You will find me waiting by the ocean floor,
building castles in the shifting sands
in a world that nobody understands,
In a morning.
it's the morning of my life
'Tis the morning of my life

In the morning of my life
the minutes take so long to drift away
Please be patient with your life
It's only morning and you're still to live your day

In the ev'ning I will fly you to the moon
To the top right hand corner of
the ceiling in my room
Where we'll* stay till the sun shines
Another day lay on clothes lines
I'll be yawning
It is the morning of my life
This is the morning of my life

In The Morning - Nina Simone

Friday, 19 February 2016

friday cartoon

week 6


I, like most people reading this, like to be a nice temperature. Not to hot and not to cold. I especially dislike the cold. This week’s natural movement challenge is something I’m still working on, but since it’s still winter in this hemisphere we might as well make the most of it.

I want you to make sure part of your day is spent outside in the cold or somehow getting a little cold…doing it whilst out for a walk would be my top suggestion cus then two movement nutritionals in one. BAM.

And now for the WHY THE HELLS…?

So we tend to think of muscles like “ I’m going to train to do a pull-up and a marathon” or “My hamstrings feel like guitar strings, I’m going to train to increase their tolerance, get me to yoga!” but its rare that I hear people talk about activating their musculature in that sense of “I need to train for a variance in temperature.” Unless you happen to be Katy Bowman.

Most of us house/office dwellers are always exposed to exactly the same temperature throughout the day. So when it comes to getting out in the cold our bodies aren’t used to generating their own heat. Now the body can actually generate its own heat, but you have to train your heat-generating muscles, and so regular exposure to cold is part of that process.

Nice ways to start this training include….
1. Not bundling up too much to go out and actually letting yourself feel the cold. I would recommend doing it in layers and every now and then taking a layer away. Just like working with yoga props!
or, for the brave….
2. Not taking a really really hot shower, but a slightly cooler one, and then cooler, and then a colder shower. 


Big shout out to fellow Amsterdamer Wim Hof (also known as The Iceman) for the inspiration this week. 

(Image of me in the cold with my gloves gotta start somewhere...)

the benefits of being cold

Even on the hottest nights, I feel like I need the weight of a blanket, or at least a sheet, to sleep. But like eating sweets or turning up the heat, he sees sheeting and blanketing as acquired habits that can be changed. He was able to wean himself from blankets gradually, by learning to sleep with them first folded down partway, and then folded further, and then, eventually, all the way down to his feet. Cold really isn’t that miserable, he insists, once you’ve gone through withdrawal and adapted
to it.

Cronise said that when people tell him they need a blanket to sleep, he asks them, “Do you walk around in a blanket all day?” (Given the choice, some of us would.) But Cronise is more affable and reasonable-sounding than his anti-blanket rhetoric might suggest. The mild cold exposure he advocates might be as simple as forgoing a jacket when you’re waffling over whether you need one, not layering cardigans over flannels despite the insistence of the fall catalogs, or turning off the space heater under your desk
James Hamblin for The Atlantic. Read the article in full here.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

"I don’t either… You believe it’s cold, but if you build yourself a snowhouse it’s warm. You think it’s white, but at times it looks pink, and another time it’s blue. It can be softer than anything, and then again harder than stone. Nothing is certain."
-- Tove Jansson
(Too-Tricky's comforting solidarity in Moomintroll’s lament that he doesn’t understand the snow)


Geoffrey Jones, Snow. 1963. Found via evencleveland.

This is mesmerising! Manual labor and tweed jackets.  Talk about grit.

They remind me of winter.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

the skin show

Is it cold where you are? yes? good! get outside to challenge those arrector pili muscles (or goose bumps to you and me) and don't just take my word for it, click the link below to listen to this expert...

Episode 29- The Skin Show

 "You squat, you hang, you climb, and you threw your couch to the curb—all for the sake of more natural movement. But are your arrector pili getting their movement nutrients? Wait, what ARE your arrector pili? Katy scratches the surface of that oft-neglected but serious player in your whole body health—your skin! Of course, this vast subject needs more than one episode, but this is a good start on a fascinating topic."

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

"Feeling is understanding"
-- Wim Hof

"i love the cold"

" I think of the cold as a noble force. It's just helping me. It's training me. It's bringing me back to the inner nature, the way it was meant to be."

-- Wim Hof

This guy is amazing!

Monday, 15 February 2016

continual flux

Our minds, like our bodies, are in continual flux; something is hourly lost, and something acquired. To lose much at once is inconvenient to either, but while the vital power remains uninjured, nature will find the means of reparation. Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye; and while we glide along the stream of time, whatever we leave behind us is always lessening, and that which we approach increasing in magnitude. Do not suffer life to stagnate: it will grow muddy for want of motion; commit yourself again to the current of the world ...
Samuel Johnson, Rasselas.

Photos: Fox in motion photographed in Russia's Kronotsky National Biosphere ReserveFound at English Russia.

New Mexico. image by me.


We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.
Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass / Northern Lights.

Friday, 12 February 2016

friday cartoon

"Frank Forencich of Exuberant Animal was one of the really early influential thinkers on applying the evolutionary paleo perspective to movement practice, one of the first great play advocates and great author."
-- Rafe Kelly (who also has a brilliant perspective on human movement) 

week 5


Since you have already spent the past week challenging yourself to find 10 different ways to sit and stand throughout your have right? This weeks resolution/challenge/life changer should slot right in nicely.

When you sit on the floor (or in a chair or on someones lap) try and sit down and stand up without using your hands. This simple but surprisingly tricky task will serve to help maintain mobility and flexibility in several joints in the body (hips, spine, ankles, etc.) over time.

There are many many many ways to practice transitioning from floor/chair/lap to standing and back down again and I would recommend taking a look at some of the MovNat challenges for inspiration.

NO HANDS to stand and sit is a golden rule in our house....although my husband to be is a rebel and rule breaker so I will be making sure he gets this memo too.

Thanks to Dr Andreo Spina for the inspiration and to Bob Marley for EVERYTHING. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

the 5 stages of grief

1) Denial.
This can’t be happening to me.
2) Anger.
Why is this happening? Who is to blame?
3) Bargaining.
Just bring them back and I will do anything./ I will do anything to alleviate or change this.
4) Depression.
I’m too sad to do anything.
5) Acceptance.
I’m at peace with what happened./ what is happening.

the five stages of grief. 2013.
photographer. nayyirah waheed.

Monday, 8 February 2016


Photo: Sophie Calle, I Died in a Good Mood, 2013

week 4

What is your position in life?

I'm going to copy and paste directly from Katy Bowmans blog Nutritious Movement (go there immediately after this and read EVERYTHING) for this weeks 'become an opportunistic mover' task because she says so brilliantly..

"So, we’ve got a situation where sitting constantly is creating disease and standing constantly is creating disease. Do you see the theme? Although the research and media are going to probably miss the boat on this one, the problem isn’t the sitting (or the standing, for that matter), but the constant and continuous use of a single position.

...As many anthropologists know, the way we move is mostly a result of our cultural inheritances and has very little to go with genetics. Clothing, terrain, temperature, gender, class, and fear are only a few of the many factors that affect how we adjust our joints when sitting and standing. Gordon W. Hewes reported on about 100 resting postures of the world, and I have posted this image from the study so you can see, perhaps, why our Western joint health and metabolism (which is dependent on muscle length) is the poorest in the world.

So, we need to think bigger. There is more than just sitting and standing. Create ten different options of each! If you have a standing work station, stand a few different ways every hour. When you sit, sit a few different ways every hour. Open your mind and open your joints! When you get home, stay out of your chairs and try out a lot of these Worldly Options. (Note: If you don’t have a spear, a broom may work…) Circle the ones you can’t maintain for longer than five minutes and make a note to practice that posture at the beginning and the end of an exercise session. And, parents, don’t insist that kids sit in the same fashion as us stiffer folks and allow them to explore other options. And, join them! They can teach you something about natural movement.

Also, if you do spend a yoga/stretching class cycling through10 or so of these postures, know that while this cycle is a good thing, getting back into the sitting position the other 6-10 hours of the day reduces your health just the same. Adjust the way you sit, as often as possible for a real, deep, and cellular change."

Bravo Katy. I concur!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

saturday poem

I am as heavy
with foreboding
impervious to the light
as the sound
of one palm frond scraping

“Oh, that’s just another pelican”

Thoreau said
“If I could,
I would worship
the parings of my nails.”

--Yvonne Rainer
December 28, 1999 Flamingo Lodge, FL

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

a walk in the street

"I wanted to show parallels and differences in thinking about objects and time and space, or time and activity. A key is the idea that the artist’s hand has been replaced by factory fabrication. The phrasing in dance suggests that in terms of tradition, musical phrasing, accents and dealing with a given set of movements or a development of movement in time are substituted by energy, equality and found movement. In traditional ballet no one ever walks as they walk in the street; in my early performances, I was criticized for doing this. What came to be known as reductivism and minimalism were simply a way of challenging all these notions of what constituted art. Cage was key here. In his piece 4’33” where David Tudor sat at the piano for that length of time and you started listening to what was going on around it introduced a whole new way of teaching and of looking at the world. As Cage says, it was so beautiful if you just paid attention to it."
 -- Yvonne Rainer talking to Chrissie Iles for Frieze Magazine.
Click here to read the article in full.
"I said ‘behave as you do in the subway when you want to look at someone, but you have to look out the corner of your eye, and then you avert your glance as soon as their gaze meets yours’"
-- Yvonne Rainer, instructions

the mind is a muscle

there's always time to think again and reconsider...

recommended read

This is not just an amazing dance book, it's an amazing book! Deep and profound, I highly recommend this record of an amazing woman and artist and her process.

Yvonne Rainer

Yvonne Rainer created her performances according to a series of generic tasks that integrated day-to-day gestures into a dance vocabulary (walking, running, lifting, etc.)