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Recovering from an Injury part #3

bailey_200x200By Guest Writer Diana Bailey

“Appearance is absolute, but reality is not that way.
Everything is interdependent, not absolute.” Dalai Lama
Taking Charge: Self Guided Recovery


At a certain point, you may choose to guide your own program. If you look to activities that are familiar, enjoyable, and easy, the results are usually okay. Let pain be your guide. If it still hurts, you really are better off getting some help or at least finding an activity that does not cause pain. When you find one, do parts of it differently so the answer (what you “should” be doing) is not immediately apparent. The change of context reduces reflexive guarding and rebuilds confidence if the challenge is appropriate. An appropriate challenge means there is no pain in the doing and none after!

High pain tolerance is not your friend when it comes to injury because it results in ignoring important warnings or overdoing. Low pain tolerance and micro-focusing on pain is not useful either. Developing an accurate pain scale is worthwhile; that means you know the difference between the discomfort that may be necessary to reclaim motion, and a warning that something is about to get serious. In the beginning, the distance between those two points, and the time to respond, is small. Moving and working slowly provides the space to back off. Enduring and ignoring are not the same as noticing and exploring.
The goal is to accurately interpret the message and respond.

Begin any activity with very short exposures. A marathon runner with over 20 years of experience once told me she begins with about a ten minute run her first time back. That idea seemed wimpy and stupid. The real lesson came from first ignoring her suggestion, and then, after another setback, trying it.

Experience teaches what direction cannot.

In the beginning, it has to feel like nothing! No pain means all gain every time. A “wait and see” attitude pays off big in early trials. The discipline to stick with a plan, and to stop before there is an issue, is far more important than any single workout.

Recovering from an Injury- part 2

bailey_200x200Recovering from an Injury-Part 2
By Diana Bailey

To continue treating the body like a machine ensures installation or removal of a few parts over time. Approaching any injury with the attitude of “let’s get this over with” means it may be over or, at the very least end quite differently than was hoped. There is no magic bullet to put this life event away. Cutting and medicating, no matter how necessary in the moment, address a symptom rather than the abiding issue. This path is understandable because the human tendency is to fix what can be seen and touched rather than what is believed. The results speak for themselves.

Absent direction from a professional, and often even in spite of it, injuries are rarely viewed as a personal reason for more accurate observation and examination of underlying mental habits. Damage to the body is not somehow separate from the decisions that caused it. To ignore, blame, justify, or rationalize this critical aspect of the injury won’t make next time not happen.

Gravity exists whether we believe it or not.
Lack of belief merely guarantees another painful outcome.

It is a curious truth that when people get beat up enough, they become willing to entertain new options. Injury is an indicator that at the very least, a review of mental habits is warranted.

The more you are able to abandon your “self” to the process, the more productively rehabilitation time will be used. Rest assured that if you hug your diagnosis, it will never let go of you first! Ignoring a diagnosis ensures other consequences, because ignoring something does not make it go away. The best use of any qualified opinion is as a place to begin rather than the final answer.

Both physical therapy and post-rehab Pilates essentially conspire to take every day motions out of context in order to restore physical ability. The movement is the same, but the reason for doing it becomes different. So, there is no fixed idea about what “should” happen. Curiosity is the root of recovery. This necessary shift in perspective, provided by varying the context, makes a place for possibilities rather than conclusions. In effect, people see and do what they could not before because their mind was too certain of the result.

Once awareness has expanded and the body learns that it can again move without pain, confidence returns along with more efficient movement. Guarding* disappears. Pain ceases to chip away at peace of mind. If you can’t find a way to move pain free, get help! There are people who can teach you how, and this is worth every penny with respect to quality of life.

Change does not have to be difficult, but it may test some limits. Great teachers can make necessary moments doable and even enjoyable. The essential ingredient is to train awareness over exercises. The moment awareness broadens, capacity shifts. A great teacher won’t ask outright for a change of belief, but you may later discover you have because it made sense to do so.
*Guarding is the body’s automatic reaction to delay or avoid pain. At first, this happens to protect the muscles and joints involved. Guarding is evidenced by restricted movements that partially or totally bypass the use of the painful area. The long term result, if the guarding remains, is an adaptive pattern that eventually causes further dysfunction and pain.



Recovering from an Injury -Part 1


bailey_200x200By Guest Writer Diana Bailey
Part  1

“Appearance is absolute, but reality is not that way.
Everything is interdependent, not absolute.” Dalai Lama
The Overview and Approach

Personal and practical experience with a multitude of soft tissue injuries indicates that the attitude regarding rehab challenges does more to determine the outcome than even the available level of care. It is clear that over the course of a lifetime injury is likely to occur. The usual mental approach arrives as a scale that ranges from inconvenient to completely devastating. Injuries do feel absolute! It takes a split second to happen, and a relatively long time to “get your body back”.

In simple terms, recovery from damage tends to unfold in a couple of ways depending upon personal outlook:

Believe first. Do second. Understand later
Do first. Believe second. Understand later

In between, regardless of choosing to be an optimist or a skeptic, there will be some aching, some ouches, and several wows!

The pivotal issue in recovery for either personality is actually curiosity; that means to become more interested in what will happen next than afraid of it. While expert guidance is useful and important, direction that inspires genuine interest in the process expands the realm of probability. Focused curiosity is a powerful tool for progress. Healing is easier when a question of wonder helps to engage the necessary work.

The greatest lesson an injury has to teach is not patience.

It is to pay attention.

It’s called paying attention because it is an investment.

Understanding is at the end of recovery for the same reason that rear view mirrors are smaller than windshields. Perspective comes from experience, not just hindsight. It saves a lot of potential problems to get assistance formulating a plan, but that does not mean mistakes won’t occur. Setbacks can and do happen even with the best of plans because knowing what is just enough is for one individual on any given day is an experiment.

If you decide to seek professional advice, look for experience over opinion and results over credentials. Everybody has opinions, and there are lots of credentials. These are a great starting place as long as they are not equated with experience. People who have paid their dues on the front lines look at issues very differently. Their wisdom is priceless in helping to set a constructive frame for a return to a full range of movement.

Keep in mind that incremental goals deliver excellent cumulative results. Historically, giant leaps in capacity are often injurious. Re-injury halfway through the process tends to expand the problem, and interfere with happy endings. It works well to get reliable information, go slower, and take a little longer. Sometimes that’s a lot longer than expected. Injuries take the time they take. To be invited and inspired to learn how your body moves and works best for you is the goal of recovery.



How to approach yourself in movement.

Diana Bailey Essential Motion PilatesLet your Brownies bake!
By Guest Writer Diana Bailey

Approach your work in Pilates with this general frame of awareness:

  • stsack of brownies.First you organize yourself in the movement much
    as you would assemble and mix ingredients to bake.

Second you refine the mix and maybe make a couple
of adjustments.

     The last and most important thing is to let it bake.

                                                   In my experience, I have to train myself to do this. To
accept whatever happens.

                                                           Brownies do not cook if you keep opening the oven and poking them. So cut it out!  Have some fun with it and give yourself permission to be okay with today’s result.   Practice leaving room for more AND being happy with what is.


Tell A Different Story

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates By  Guest Writer, Diana Bailey

Acceptance is the starting place. It has nothing to do with being a “door mat” by allowing others to make decisions that are yours to make. It is not about giving up, giving in, or tolerating particular circumstances and behavior. Acceptance is seeing something for what it objectively is, so you can be free to decide how you want to respond. It is the ability to drop or question your beliefs in order to act wholeheartedly. It does not magically appear or disappear. You choose it.

There’s a joke that makes the rounds in Colorado every winter that is a great example of acceptance:

Know how you can tell you’re driving in the snow with a Colorado native? Because the car’s sliding sideways into oncoming traffic, and they ask you to hold their coffee ‘cause this is gonna get interesting….

Freedom to act comes from the ability to consciously direct the mind to observe and acknowledge what is happening right now. That’s acceptance. No resentment, no why me? No more the entitled approach of I deserve this, but I don’t deserve that. No he should have, or I could have. No leap to the aftermath of mopping up a coffee stain on car upholstery. Just this: Here we are. This is it, and NOW WHAT?

The story becomes entirely different. That’s what.

Acceptance underpins creativity because it is the receiver; the heartfelt seeing of a person, place or thing for what it is without dressing it up or tearing it down. It is the simple realization that there is no real control of any outcome…. especially for anyone or anything else. That understanding alone will make a positive difference in whatever the outcome actually is.

This simple spiritual principle dramatically changes every situation without adding any personal drama. Imagine one guest or family member in the room at a holiday gathering who was truly still inside…no drama. Talk about a social magnet. Acceptance remains clear that there is no reason to make anyone else’s drama yours. What for?

Acceptance abides with the personal responsibility that lies behind a choice to do or not do, think or not think, say or not say.

For me, this simple practice is moving forward at peace with what is here, what was before and what may or may not be. That’s a “now what?” that makes getting up in the morning a great idea, an engaging and expansive look at being here and doing what I’m doing today with all that I am.




Mistakes, magic and success

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

By Diana Bailey
“A mistake is simply another way of
doing things.” Katharine Graham
Keep in mind that to give yourself permission to “not know” is a great gift.

Everyone loves the crystal ball.  A decision to suspend knowing makes space for magic.

Mistakes could be categorized as the process of learning what works for you, and what does not. The best way to find out is: Do it and see what happens! There are many professions called a “practice” because that’s what they are. The practice of learning, refining, teaching and coaching movement is no different. The key is not only practice, but what is learned from the practice.
People continually suffer from the idea that they “should have known” about something before experiencing it. That’s a great way to never live life at all. If you knew it was a mistake going in, of course you would’ve done something different! So, making an error doesn’t matter, but how often the same mistake is repeated certainly does.

Fear of criticism

First, fear of the criticism or blame that can surface when a mistake is made, especially if it’s happened before, can become confused with genuine danger to existence. So, we freeze or stay silent. Real solutions elude us, and progress stagnates. Inevitably, this reaction to a dilemma sets the stage for a rerun. The vital sense of engagement in life, including opportunities to make valuable contributions and truly share your talents, actually fades when fear starts making all the decisions.


Regrets are interpretations of the past that cripple people in the present. The admonishment of “don’t screw it up this time” is a misunderstanding of the primary lesson of any mistake: To learn about yourself through a challenge rather than to control an outcome. The willingness to jump in and try again with a better approach ultimately determines more successful results than any other action. This willingness is a quality that great leaders share.

Consistency yields success

Consistency fosters an appreciation for the ebb and flow with all things. The lesson moves from head to heart when it is realized that no error determines someone’s value as a human being. Come rain or shine, plus or minus, praise or blame, proxy or default, success in any endeavor in showing up and doing what is necessary on that day and in that moment.
The study of movement, and progress in any fitness program for that matter, is simply refining the practice of working with each other and yourself. Getting out of your own way is to cultivate the habit of equal regard for both yourself and others. This is a triumph in any given circumstance.

The moment of truth after a mistake comes with the choice about what to do next…every time. It is summarized in three words: Do, Learn, Practice.

Previously Published April 2013

Leadership – valuing mistakes


Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

By Diana Bailey

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes,
smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”
-John Maxwell

We, as a culture or a corporation, don’t teach people to value their mistakes. The focus is placed on success rather than the learning process that achieves it.

Disdain and criticism are common responses to an error. The overall message is that mistakes are bad, disliked, wrong or stupid, and people who make them are too. That’s not much of a value since it absolutely flies in the face of reliable, objective experience from some of the most accomplished and successful people on this earth.

Hundreds of life stories acknowledge one simple reality:The final outcome in a situation is predicted by the response to the mistake over the mistake itself. Mistakes are a place to begin. Admitting one is a great start. Realizing how to use the lesson is a turning point. Acting on that insight begins with the courage to see rather than look.

“Mistakes are always forgivable,
if one has the courage to admit them.”
– Bruce Lee

Keep in mind that the ability to acknowledge an error by saying, “I was wrong” neither absolves someone else of wrongdoing nor concedes any degree of “rightness” to their actions. To admit that you did something that did not work out the way you thought it would acknowledges your decision about only your personal words and actions. That is the essence of both accountability and responsibility. Conversely, to say “You are right” means you agree with the actions, words, and decisions of another. Be aware of this distinction.
“People may forget what you did,
but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou

Right and wrong are not a teeter totter defining the balance of power or superiority in a situation, although this often appears to occur. People will go through astonishing contortions to claim the supposed righteous moral high ground, and feed the implied message because of the deep seated human desire to be valued and appreciated by others. Watch closely and notice how good and bad get piled on top to question belonging, community, teamwork, or friendship while like and dislike wrap it all up in a box to avoid further review by anyone.

This approach is lacking a critical reality check:
Respect and trust cannot be assigned, only given and earned.
Problems get solved more often when people are safe to express ideas. Being “right” does nothing to inspire learning or build creative problem solving skills because it directs the focus away from ideas. Giving your self permission to play or experiment, without necessarily deciding on the immediate value, builds confidence and invites others to engage their own ideas. The cumulative results of this approach are reflected in progress, potential, and solution.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
– Scott Adams

The person who listens, respects, acknowledges and attends to the issue rather than attempting to categorize anyone,including themselves, attracts solutions like a magnet. Leaving space for a situation to unfold or a direction to be revised is the art of life.

 Mistakes happen even in the best of situations. So expect them, accept them, and do something to fix ’em!

Real leadership knows that setting a course means decisions have to be made according to what works rather than individual likes or personal popularity. There is so much that defines what it is to be human that mistakes must come with the territory. Responsible leaders  admit it, accept it, and move on. No more and no less.



Forward Equals Backwards Series #4


Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

By Diana Bailey

A Simple Coordination Exercise to Enhance Postural Balance

People fall forward into space primarily because forward is the direction of habit. Studio experience reveals that most of us have very little idea how to communicate with muscles to change our own habits of motion. Posture, balance, and coordination all suffer from inefficient, repetitive usage and poor alignment. The result is often painful, and even damaging to the places that allow movement: the joints. Knee, hip, back, and shoulder surgeries have become common at a much earlier life stage.

Walking postural alignment can be more easily understood and naturally improved if the focus is to reverse the motion. When forwards equals backwards, you own it.
Try this simple exercise:

• Walk five steps forward and five steps backward.
• Repeat it for about 3 minutes.

The only goal, especially in the beginning, is to do it until there is no perceptible shift forward or backward in the spine or the head when the direction changes. Walking backwards helps the body to remember hip extension, and spinal length; that means people can easily and accurately stand up taller when they walk backward. Over time, this exercise calls attention, via cueing from the teacher or a partner, to the depth and ease of the breath, the placement of the feet, the swing (or immobility) of the arms, the movement of the shoulder blades, and finally, the carriage of the head.

How does it accomplish all that? The exercise invites the brain to compare sensations to direct the learning. This is the simple rule of the mind to foster the connection necessary for the development of coordination. The part of the brain that develops physical dexterity does not learn from words alone. It learns from comparing sensation and accurate directions (brain bridges) about the sensations, rather than external judgments or corrections that often fail to center attention on the feel of the body in motion.

The role of the teacher is to engage and inspire the student to investigate this aspect of equal and opposite as it applies to their body. This develops remarkably precise individual self-correction by connecting personal awareness to physical sensation. Demonstration to inspire or create a working example is useful so long as the mindset remains on individual improvements and abilities.

Effective teaching of balance and coordination shapes the thoughts to focus inside, and learn from what is felt. The application to life is graceful self-carriage evidenced by the ability to accurately respond in the transition from one physical challenge to another.



Forward Equals Backwards Series #3

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

Forward Equals Backwards and You Own It: Balance and Coordination

By featured Guest Writer Diana Bailey

The Popular Equipment: Easy to Learn and Portable

The number one balance challenge in this studio, based on ease of learning, is the foam roller. The variety and unique core strength challenge this auxiliary piece offers are of the highest caliber. The roller offers work that can be both engaging, and in light of the diverse skills needed, astonishingly difficult to master. It is easy to see why clients love it.

The BOSU lessons are more devious because balance is challenged in all directions at once; Up and down, side to side, front to back, and rotation. It can be used seated, prone, supine, kneeling or standing. It is more difficult to stand on it without shoes, and when it is less inflated. The safety issues are nominal, but this does require a higher degree of core stability than the roller. To get the best training, the directive is to consciously disturb the balance—and if lost, work to recover–rather than attempt to hold stillness.

Comparatively, on a danger scale of 1-10, the roller is a 2, and the BOSU can be up to a 5. For the sake of perspective, aerial dance, climbing, or slack line work can be a 10. The best training for the most people takes place in the 1-5 range: Nominal safety issues with great mental/physical difficulty. The floor is a piece of cake after standing on a foam roller or a BOSU!

The bonus of both pieces is that, after a few simple instructions, they teach self-regulation and correction by speaking directly to the part of the mind that governs motion. Poor alignment choices or missed timing result in a restart with improved chances of success. Unlike a treadmill or stationary bike, these offer no surface for clothing to hang on or cover. They lurk in the corner, always in view, inviting use.

The roller and BOSU are a fun way to learn about and improve the following:

1. Core stability and flexibility
2. Balance and Coordination
3. Arm and Leg freedom
4. Breathing and relaxation in motion
5. Mental focus and stillness
6. Posture—especially head, neck & shoulders
7. Hunching or swayed back
8. Stiff shoulders
9. Deep abdominal strength
10. Spatial reflexes—knowing how to “land on your feet”.

In this region of the US, ice is a major cause of injuries. Clients have commented on the difference even a few sessions of training have made in their responses to a sudden, uncontrolled loss of footing. Skiers notice improved awareness of weight shift and greater control. The compass that keeps us responsive to challenging moments becomes more internal as balance and coordination improve. The applications range from developing the confidence and stability to walk easily down a set of stairs without the need for a hand rail, to improving the layout portion of a back flip in a gymnastic routine.

Forward Equals Backwards Series #2


Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

By  Guest Writer Diana Bailey

The Guiding Principle: Consistent, Progressive Practice

Nobody builds a bridge over a big river in a day, and the same premise applies to the link between body and brain.

Balance and coordination require attentive repetition for gains to be realized. The question to keep in mind whenever approaching a new endeavor is:

Can I reverse this?

To move with efficient alignment and control carries greater value over the long-term than reactive or hurried half measures. The goal is not to complete some training exercise. It is to understand how it feels to do it. For example, sitting down is the backward part of standing up. If the body is allowed to flop into a chair, and push-off the arms to avoid the legwork of rising, trouble is on the way. Controlling the sit down will markedly improve the stand-up.

Toying with the idea of ending exactly where the movement began brings attention to support and control. It builds length, range, and economy of effort. While there may be times this is not possible, the ability to reverse a motion does more to build great body awareness than any other. It changes the intent, and redirects the mind from an incessant fascination with forward being equal to finished, mastered, or complete. Concentration on reversing builds accurate focus.

The quality of the transition dictates the state of arrival. The more seamless the transition, the more flow in the movement itself, and from one motion to another. This view changes the goal from end result to sensation and awareness. Once this key to improving balance and coordination has been turned, the body can find home in difficult circumstances. Venturing out does not mean getting lost because the agreement is to seek the center rather than finish. Fitness could be defined, after all, as the ability to “take up your space” in any direction with nimbleness and grace for as long as necessary.

At first, the body and mind must learn: How much of the self can be vitalized and recruited to retain balance? That means the activity may feel like a great deal of work.

Then, once the foundation of strength and alignment has been established, the lesson reverses: How little can I use to keep balance while concentrating on the coordination part of a challenge? Now the value of increments gains depth. It is discovered that time is part of balance; that little things become big; that everyone falls, and the real question is are you free to fall with awareness?; that relax does not mean fall apart; that letting go is for the grip of the mind.

Optimal balance and coordination invites focus, or one-pointed attention of the mind rather than detailed direction from it. The part of the brain that governs movement is distinct from the part that unravels language. Too much direction slows down learning and stifles responsive body usage. This training is a faith and letting go exercise for the brain.

It is curious or possibly even painful to discover at a critical moment that the mastery of a motion was assumed rather than actual. Reversing movements allows the connection to build with solid information about the entire process: that translates into flowing ease under “real time” pressure. The learning curve on this is individual, and the common denominator is practice. There is no substitute.