2015 Winter Newsletter
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Happy New Year!
Your Well-Being

Winter Newsletter
                           Paul Ciske, Ph.D.   

HAPPY 2015!  And isn't it amazing how fast it is moving along! I can't believe it is February, the month that can remind you to love and take care of yourself. Check out the classes below to see which ones will help nurture your well-being. Blessings, Paul
Winter 2015 Participatory Lecture Series: (registration required)

Self Care using Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT). 
Got tightness? Stretching is not always the answer. Learn a whole new way to work with tightness in the body based on how the nervous system operates.  Wednesday, February 11th, 7:30-8:45pm
Z-Health Introduction – Your Body: Tuning In and Tuning UpTransform your movement and posture by learning in this session the 6 "high pay-off" mobility drills along with the principles of Z-Health®  and Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT) to train both the body and the brain. Monday, February 23rd, 7:30 - 8:45 pm    
*Class series begins the following week if enough interest. *

Beyond Eyesight: How other visual attributes affect performance in life, work, and sport. Vision is the work of the BRAIN - eyesight is work of the eyes. Experience how vision affects performance and how vision skills are trainable.  Wednesday, March 4th, 7:30 - 8:45pm.

Posture - A Somatics Intelligence Approach. 
Use your intuition and the felt sense of the body to transform your posture and how you present to the world. Monday, March 16th, 7:30 - 8:45pm

"Core" and Spinal Stabilization - The Truths and Myths
Walk away with a 5 step approach for engaging the muscles of the trunk and methods for challenging their strength and endurance. Monday, March 30th, 7:30 - 8:45pm
Balance: The Inner Ear Vestibular System. The second in the hierarchy of sensory input to the brain which is critical for balance. Learn how this system works and how to train it for better balance. Wednesday April 8th, 7:30-8:45.

Breathing: Techniques for Improving the 22,000 breaths you take each day. Hyperventalation is epidemic and can mask itself with a wide variety of symptoms including pain. This also affects carbon dioxide levels which greatly impacts acidity and therefore every system in the body. Improve your health by improving the quality of each breathing rep you perform throughout your life. Monday, April 20th, 7:30 - 8:45pm. 

Transforming Stress – An Introduction to the work of Conscious Embodiment. Develop greater capacity to relate to whatever arises, especially when under pressure, from a centered state which accesses “presence, confidence and compassion”. Wednesday, April 29th, 7:30 - 9pm.
Seating limited. Call 510-832-5725 to reserve a space. Classes are offered on a donation basis. See for further details on lectures.
BONUS - NECK MOBILITY: Generic Isometrics

Rotate the head to the left and right to see if there is a greater restriction in motion one way versus the other. If there is a greater restriction in one direction, turn the head in that direction to a point that has no pain or discomfort. Place the hand on the side the head is rotated toward against the side of the face to create a barrier. Try to rotate the head further into the direction the motion is restricted pressing against the barrier of the hand at a light intensity, 10-20% effort, for six seconds. After each isometric you can check to see if there has been any change in the range of motion. If there has been a change in motion you can repeat the isometrics in the new position or if no change occurred you can repeat it in the same position. Often these generic isometrics will increase motion and decrease pain and discomfort. The isometrics can be used for any motions in the neck or any other joint for that matter. 
In this Newsletter:

Participatory Lecture Series
Article: Isometric Exercise
BONUS: Generic isometrics for the Neck 

Call 510-832-5725 for your Body Tune-up

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

                   -Howard Thurman 
Isometrics are powerful exercises that can be done by anyone and offers a host of benefits. They have been shown to decrease blood pressure, increase force output (i.e., strength),  increase muscular endurance, increase vascularity, and there is some evidence that it can increase bone density and/or decrease bone loss.   

The first thing I need to do is explain what an isometric exercise is. An isometric exercise is when the muscles contract but there is no visible movement that occurs. This is mainly done in 2 ways: 1) pushing against something that will not move, or 2) contracting one group of muscles against the muscles that would move the body in the opposite direction. Lying on your back with your arm at your side and pushing into the floor is an example of the first type. Flexing your "bicep" (i.e., elbow flexors) and holding that position would be an example of the second type because the elbow extensors (i.e., mainly the triceps) are stopping the elbow from bending as the elbow flexors contract. I primarily use the first method in the Muscle Activation Techniques work that I do and that most of you have experienced.

Two particular ways I use isometrics are to increase limited motion and to create strengthening in muscles that move a joint where there has been a history of pain. An example of the first technique is being covered in the bonus section of the newsletter "Generic isometrics for the neck". The idea behind increasing motion with isometrics is the basis of Muscle Activation Techniques. The basic premise is that if there is instability around a joint due to all the muscles not working to their full capacity then the body restricts motion. The isometrics can re-establish the ability of the muscles to contract on demand and therefore improve stability which in turn results in greater mobility in the joint. So if you find you have restricted motion, doing isometrics against a barrier in the direction of the restricted motion can be a powerful tool to make a change. The typical approach of stretching would be trying to take away the symptom of tightness/restricted motion but not address the underlying cause.

The second way of using isometrics may best be illustrated with an example. If pressing a weight overhead has caused pain or discomfort in the past or presently, doing the isometrics is a lower threat to the body because there is no movement. Generally I would have my client do an isometric in three positions, at the bottom, middle and top of the motion as long as it can be done pain free. So the overhead pressing would be done with the elbow close to the side, at about 90 degrees to the body, and with the arm overhead. A strap or a rope that is anchored under the same side foot could be used to press up against in these three positions. In Muscle Activation Techniques we use the formula of 6 repetitions held for 6 seconds each. Others recommend 30 second contractions in each of the positions.

So as you can see these simple exercises can have a great impact on both strength and mobility which are both needed for a fully functioning body and to enjoy all the activities of life.

GRATITUDE: I am continually grateful to all of my clients that support my work. I am also grateful for your generosity in paying in accordance to a relative value for healing based on your means which allows me to offer my services to a wide range of people with a diverse array of socio-economic status. Thank you! 
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