By Kathrina Kasha Peterson
How is your strength, stamina, or energy level compared to five years ago? My work is about bringing awareness to specific movements in the body in order to improve and maintain the vitality that leads to an independent life. I see clients who have difficulty sitting, either because of chronic pain, injury, Parkinson’s, MS or stroke. As a movement and awareness teacher, I have repeatedly seen powerful outcomes resulting in flexibility, pain reduction, better balance, relaxation and ease of movement. With such benefits, aging does not have to equate increased pain, rigidity, limitation and deterioration.
Our bodies are always changing and each part influences all other parts. Movement with awareness is a proven method to train the brain to reorganize itself from functioning with pain to experiencing more ease. By design, human beings are dynamic. By accessing the most important organ of the body, the brain, the quality of action becomes clearer and sharper. Movement with awareness is the key for the brain to form new patterns. Functions of rolling and crawling are directly related to functions of reaching and getting up from a chair. And as we get older, these functions separate independence from dependence.
The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living defined the basic activities of daily living as bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence and feeding. All these activities require getting up from a chair. As we get older, the ability to reach for objects and get up from a chair means independence, or, dependence if they become too painful to perform on our own.
Although done with ease in our early years, getting up from a chair for many older adults becomes effortful and a clear strain on the neck, shoulders and abdomen. I teach individuals to be aware of where they are straining, where the movement stops and how all parts of one’s self may be brought into moving as one. The key is to know how to function more intelligently when one’s strength and stamina are reduced because of the natural ageing process. As a result of experiencing these movement lessons, habitual patterns are replaced with healthier ones. By using different variations of sitting up slowly and gently, the individual learns how to better organize movement with less effort. As a result of knowing how to use one’s body better, one feels less fatigued and experiences better balance and posture. One’s memory improves and the lessening of pain in the back and neck brings a confidence to want to move more freely.
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