Heal Back Pain - The Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: Lavinia Plonka on Healing Back Pain

By Lavinia Plonka
July 9, 2018

Heal Back Pain - The Art of Living Retreat Center

The truth is out. There is no quick fix for your back pain — not in the way you have been conditioned to think of it. Back surgery has been shown to be ineffective most of the time, and often makes things worse. Epidurals and cortisone shots are temporary. And by now, everyone knows what happens when painkillers become a regular part of your life.

 

The mystery of back pain

Back pain is a mystery. Research has shown that many people with bulging discs, degeneration, structural anomalies, or tears, have no pain and lead active lives. Conversely, many people who have no structural damage suffer from chronic pain. The late Dr. John Sarno, best-selling author of Healing Back Pain, stated that most back pain was emotionally based. Pilates people will tell you it’s your core. Physical therapists will say it’s your posture. But what if it’s a little bit of everything, with age and old injuries thrown in?

 

A mindful approach to back pain

In Cathryn Jacobson Ramin’s book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry, Ramin tried everything to relieve her back pain, even submitting herself to surgery at the infamous Laser Spine Institute. After years of frustration, she found two approaches that helped: Back Pain Boot Camp and mindful movement. I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I’m not going for Boot Camp! In her list of mindful approaches, she credits the Feldenkrais Method as a useful approach for back pain.

 

From pain to pleasure

Unlike traditional exercise, Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons use mindful movement to re-train your brain and nervous system. The movements are luxuriously slow and offer your body the opportunity to untangle pain patterns without stress. Most of the lessons are done lying down, often with eyes closed. It’s like giving your nervous system a spa treatment from the inside out.

 

Once you learn the movements, you can do them at home to maintain your spinal health. No doctors, no surgery, no drugs. Just a commitment to your own well-being. Try a free sample, and if you scroll down the page, there’s even a lesson for your spine.

 

And if you’d like to experience the benefits of Awareness Through Movement lessons in a beautiful retreat environment, please join me August 23-26 for From Pain to Pleasure at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. We’ll take good care of you!

 

Additional resources

 

More information on The Feldenkrais Method

Sample lessons

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , in house , Lavinia Plonka , spinal care , the feldenkrais method
The Feldenkrais Method - Art of Living Retreat Center

Basics of the Feldenkrais Method

By Lavinia Plonka
June 28, 2018

The Feldenkrais Method - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The Feldenkrais Method was named after its founder, Dr Moshe Feldenkrais. He was always interested in how we learn, how the brain works, and how the body and brain work together. This method was actually created to rehabilitate himself from his own injuries sustained as an athlete and martial artist.

 

Rewiring the body with the Feldenkrais Method

In breaking down his own challenges, he started to discover that he could actually rewire his nervous system. He was half a century ahead of his time — he had ideas that now some of us have taken for granted as common knowledge, such as the fact that the brain doesn’t stop growing. He was one of the first people to talk about the holism of the body, that every part contains the other part.

 

During the course of his life, Feldenkrais developed thousands of different movement sequences and also worked one-on-one with thousands of people, leaving an incredible wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

 

Awareness through movement

Feldenkrais lessons are also known as Awareness Through Movement, which is a lot easier to say than Feldenkrais! It is the awareness of what I’m doing that actually creates the changes, and reprograms the nervous system, allowing me to find new ways to move.

 

My story with back pain

I actually got into this work because of my own pain. I speak from major experience — I was a performer for many, many years, and every time I wasn’t on stage, I was in pain. I tried everything, but it wasn’t until I discovered Feldenkrais’ writings that I began to realize that a lot of what was going on for me was habit, emotion, and tension that I was carrying in my body from a lifetime of ballet lessons and different attitudes from my childhood.

 

Once I started to unscramble those tensions, I began to move better and feel better. There was a huge change in my well-being. I could actually move around without my back hurting, which was amazing as a performer. I was more flexible. I didn’t need as much of a warm-up. I was more relaxed on stage, more present in my body. All of this began to allow me to move in a direction that I’d put aside when i was young, which was to write. Feldenkrais said that his method helps us realize our avowed and our unavowed dreams. The awareness of movement that his method encouraged helped me feel an opening of the emotional and creative spectrums of my life as well.

 

Widening the field of attention

Feldenkrais said that at every moment, we are thinking, sensing, feeling, and moving. How do we include all of that in our field of attention? The brain and the body are the same thing, it’s not the brain watching the body.

 

We define pain as the body’s response to disorganization. To be able to move with freedom and without pain allows you to live the life that you want. It’s the ability to be spontaneous, to be able to plan, to be clear about what your intention is, and for you to just feel better.

 

Less pain, more gain

There’s no strain in the Feldenkrais method, in fact, our motto is “Less pain, more gain.” We never try to push through–we use pain as information. When we encounter discomfort, we use it as an opportunity to check in with the rest of our body. There are a thousand things we can discover about ourselves in these slow, delicate movements.

 

Everything is interconnected. Your entire body is there all the time–you’re an information system. Everything in your body is responding to the information that you’re receiving. Everything is participating in the pattern of pain and supporting the pattern that you unconsciously choose. Nothing happens in isolation.

 

Everything is connected

If you think about a bridge, and your bones are the steel structures of the bridge, and the tendons and your ligaments and your muscles are the cables, imagine that one cable is a little too loose or too tight. That would affect the entire structure of the bridge, right? Eventually it will be in need of repair, or it will collapse. Every little thing that takes us out of our organization affects the entire system.

 

One of the side effects of the Feldenkrais method is relaxation. When our nervous system calms down, we kick into what’s called the parasympathetic mode which governs our healing, our learning, and our rest. When we experience that parasympathetic response, we are actually able to learn better than if we were straining.

 

Feldenkrais at every age

People at different stages of their lives experience different benefits. When people are young and active and athletic, if they integrate Feldenkrais method into their lives, they’re less prone to injury. They perform at higher levels. In the world of sports and the arts, the Feldenkrais method is used a lot by dancers, actors, musicians, athletes, because it takes you past your perceived limitations. You hit a wall — how do I go further? For the aging population, it’s a great way to maintain flexibility and maintain your balance.

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”

 

Join Lavinia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from August 23rd-26th, 2018 for Moving Into Freedom From Back Pain, and change your relationship to your pain forever.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , Feldenkrais Method , Lavinia Plonka , mindfulness , pain
Back Pain

In House: Healing Back Pain with the Feldenkrais Mehod

By Lavinia Plonka
June 18, 2018

Back Pain

 

Are you in the 80%? 

80% is the alarming number of Americans who will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Besides the huge economic cost of lost work hours, medical treatment and drugs (as high as $240 billion a year!), it means there is an awful lot of unhappiness in our country right now. Can you be happy if you are in pain? Surely, this is not the result of some design flaw in the human body. Why would Mother Nature create a body that doesn’t function properly? Is it possible that something about the modern lifestyle is responsible?

 

Office chairs, cars, laptops, cellphones, TV and video games all have one thing in common. Minimal movement of the big muscles of the back. Yet Americans spend an average 10 hours a day involved with at least one if not all these forms of modern technology. Coincidence? I think not! Truth is, our biology has not caught up with our technology.

 

So until humanity evolves into some other cyborgian form, we need to return to the function that we were designed for: movement. If you stand still for a few moments with your eyes closed, you’ll notice that your body starts to sway, and if you stay long enough, you might even fall over unless you tense up. Our systems need to move. But once you’re in pain, movement seems to make things worse. How can we move from pain to pleasure?

 

The Feldenkrais Method for healing back pain

There are many approaches to healing back pain, and exercise is certainly one of them. But often there is an emphasis on “core strength” and stability at the expense of mobility and flexibility. Dr. Timothy Sobie of Saybrook University compared a Core Strengthening Program with A Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® Program in an 8 week study with participants who had back pain. The results “demonstrated greater effectiveness across all relevant outcome measures for:
1) decreasing pain,
2) decreasing perceived disability,
3) increasing function,
4) increasing endurance, and
5) optimizing performance ratios for sustained holding of torso positions in comparison to more commonly accepted, medically endorsed, and popular Rx protocols for ‘Core Stabilization’ isolated recruitment of ‘core muscle groups’ and the usual performance of ‘Motor Control’ fitness-based exercises for a population of patients diagnosed with persistently chronic Low Back Pain problems.” Read his article here.

But Awareness Through Movement lessons do so much more than relieve pain. Moshe Feldenkrais said, “What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.” Using the subtle, sophisticated movement sequences he developed, you will find that not just your back pain, but your whole life improves. As he so eloquently put it, “Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.” Wouldn’t you love that for yourself?

Join Lavinia Plonka at the Art of Living Retreat Center for the From Pain to Pleasure healing and teaching retreat and free yourself from back pain for good.

More information on The Feldenkrais Method

Sample lessons

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , Feldenkrais Method , healing , Lavinia Plonka , strength
Art of Living Retreat Center

Art of Living Journeys: Manju’s Road to Healing

By AOLRC
November 30, 2017

Art of Living Retreat Center

The practice of a Panchakarma cleanse is an effective, deeply healing way to reset your body and begin to heal. Manju, a recent Panchakarma participant, shares how her experiences at the Art of Living Retreat Center helped her along the journey to healing her body and restoring her range of movement.

A Healing Community

I have problems with my knees and back, and I can’t walk very far, and when I first heard about the Art of Living Retreat Center, as much as I wanted to come, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. So I called and asked if it would be physically possible for me to do the Panchakarma retreat, and the person I spoke to, Mary, reassured me that it was.

 

I was so scared and nervous – I hadn’t gone anywhere without friends or family in so long. This was an unknown place and unknown people, but Mary said “Look, please come. Don’t be scared, I’ll take care of you.” And she did, and I am so thankful for her for that. And not only Mary, but all of the staff, were very careful and helpful and encouraging. I could have never, ever imagined that I could explore yoga and Ayurveda in this way with all the restrictions I have.

 

A Step Towards Healing

My knees are so much better now. I used to take painkillers and ice my knees in the morning and evening, and although there is still a lot of progress to be made, with the support of my doctor and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center, I’m beginning to be able to walk up and down stairs again. I’m really, really glad I came here, and I can’t wait to come back.

   

Begin your road to healing. The Panchakarma Retreat runs weekly. 

 
 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , back pain , knee pain , pain , Panchakarma

The Practice: 8 Simple Yoga Positions for Back Pain

By Sophie Addison
April 6, 2017

If you suffer from chronic back pain, then yoga could help you find relief. A systematic review published in the Journal of Orthopedics & Rheumatology concluded that yoga was a safe and effective back pain remedy. This ancient practice, which combines gentle stretching with deep breathing and meditation, can help address back pain from multiple angles. And while the perfect yoga sequence will combine different postures to help stretch every major muscle, you probably want to keep your focus on your achy back for now.  Here are 8 easy-to-do yoga poses known to mitigate back pain.

 

Cat/Cow Pose

Yoga for Back Pain
This gentle stretching exercise is the perfect way to warm up for more challenging poses. To start the cat-cow stretch, first, you need to get on all fours. Make sure that your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are aligned, and your knees are set below your hips. At an inhale, life your tailbone and chest upwards while your belly moves towards the floor. Slowly exhale, rounding your spine towards the ceiling while keeping your knees and palms firmly on the floor. Repeat ten times.

 

Triangle Pose

Yoga for Back Pain
Because one of the main focuses of yoga is balance, it’s a good idea to balance out the previous posture with spine stretching in the opposite directions. Triangle pose will help you do just that, by allowing you to stretch your lower spine from side to side gently. Start the pose by standing straight, then place your left foot out. Turn your chest towards your left side, stretching your left arm towards the ground and your right arm towards the ceiling. Keep your knees straight during each movement. If you feel comfortable enough, look up towards your right and and hold the position for 5-15 seconds. At an exhale, return to the initial position and repeat on the other side.

 

Upward-Facing Dog

Yoga for Back Pain
Lie prone, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Now, bend your elbows so that your palms are placed beside your waist. Inhale and press your palms on the floor to straighten your arms while lifting your torso as well as your hips just a few inches from the floor. Do not tighten your buttocks or push your ribs forward, as this only strains the lower back. This pose is very effective for back pain relief, as well as improved flexibility, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 

 

Child’s Pose

Yoga for Back Pain
This pose helps ease upper and lower back pain while also providing stress relief. To get into this pose, kneel on the floor and sit on your heels. Separate your knees wide apart, and at an exhale, lay your torso towards the floor with your hands above your head. Gently stretch your arms forward as much as you can, and hold this position for up to 15 seconds. This is essentially considered a resting pose, and is perfect to use between more difficult postures. However, this pose may not be suitable if you are pregnant.

 

Supine Twist

Yoga for Back Pain
Another relaxing pose that will help release your lower back and improve overall spinal mobility. Lay on your back, and place your knees on your chest. Gently turn your knees to your right side with one leg resting on the floor and the other laying on top of it. Turn your head to the opposite direction, and spread your arms wide apart at a 90-degree angle. Remain still as long as you like, and repeat on the other side. This relaxing pose is perfect for those with lower back pain, as well as neck stiffness and shoulder pain.

 

Downward-Facing Dog

Yoga for Back Pain
Downward-facing dog stretches all major muscle groups while also gently extending the spine. The pose is also said to open the chest and help build upper body strength. Start the pose by placing yourself on all fours but with your hands slightly in front of you. Start lifting your knees and tailbone towards the ceiling. Push your upper body towards the floor the stretch the upper back and hold the position for up to a minute, breathing deeply. The pose is considered safe, but you may want to skip it if you suffer from arthritis, due to the added pressure on the hand and ankle joints.

 

Locust Pose

Yoga for Back Pain

The locust pose will provide you with a deep stretch in your back, while also firming your buttocks. This is also the only posture in this sequence to involve a back bend. Start by lying flat on your stomach with your forehead pressed against the floor. Place your hands behind you and at an inhale, lift your head, torso, arms, and legs away from the floor. Stay in this position for as long as you feel comfortable, and unlock at an exhale.

 

Eagle Pose

Yoga for Back Pain
You need strength and balance to tackle back problems completely. This is why we’ve included the eagle pose here, but also because this pose helps stretch the shoulders and upper back. Stand straight up, bend your knees slightly and lift your left foot, placing it behind your knee and keeping your balance on your right foot. Place your arms right in front of you, your upper arms parallel to the floor, and your forearms wrapped around each other.

Back pain is the most common type of pain, accounting for the majority of doctor’s visits. Taking pain medication can help ease back pain, but you will experience some side effects. This is why it is a good idea to take a more natural approach to treating back pain, such as with regular yoga practice. The postures listed here provide gentle stretching to the back muscles, helping improve posture and reducing the stress caused by back pain.

 

Sophie Addison is a blogger and skincare expert, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge. She has written about everything from wrinkles to joint pain treatment, weight loss, and fitness news. She loves to garden and listen to music. Contact Sophie on Facebook or Pinterest.

 

Interested in learning more about the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here! 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , back pain , beginning yoga , healthy lifestyle , yoga , yoga practice

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