In Western cultures the mind and body are largely treated as separate entities – our thoughts, moods and emotions are felt to be separate and apart from the physical body. We either go to a doctor to treat physical symptoms or we go to a mental health provider to treat emotional issues but rarely are there holistic approaches to treat both. While most agree that emotional distress contributes to physical symptoms, treatment of disease and dysfunction only rarely take into consideration psychosocial issues.
In Eastern cultures, the mind-body connection is well accepted. Eastern medicine provides a language to understand the energetic body – that is our emotions, thoughts and moods – and gives guidance on balancing the energies within our-selves. While we are born with a disposition that cannot be changed, we can balance our energetic body to bring forth the most positive attributes of our personalities.
Physiologically, the mind influences the body through the nervous system and through the endocrine system. Every thought we have transmits electromagnetic impulses down the spine, and releases secretory droplets of neuropeptides coursing through the body. If the mind is in a constant state of negative rumination – worry, anxiety, fear or anger – the body remains tense and poised for danger. Over time, inflammation occurs. The body needs rest to heal; the parasympathetic nervous system needs to predominate. Healing can only take place when the mind is calm.
Anatomy and physiology are used to frame a language for the physical body. Bones make up the skeleton. The skeleton moves by action of muscles. Muscles attach to bones by tendons. Nerves run up and down the spine sending electromagnetic impulses between the mind and the muscle. The endocrine centers secrete neuropeptides that signal action in end organ targets.
Energetic systems such as koshas, chakras, doschas, meridians and nadis are used to frame the language for the energetic body. The subtle (energy) body vibrates outside of the visual range of the human eye but can be seen as an aura and felt as our thoughts, moods and emotions. Communication between the physical and energetic bodies occurs through the pathways of the energetic system each with specific spheres of influence.
Many of us are unable to stop the constant rumination of the mind. These ruminations activate the sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system resulting in an increase in stress in the body. The specific psychosocial issue causing the mind distress can result in problems with specific parts of the body. Listening to our bodies can help us identify emotional blocks that need to be resolved in order for healing to begin.
Calming the mind through breath work relaxes the body and allows the parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system to predominate. Breath work includes three part belly breathing or “dirga breath”, longer exhales & shorter inhales (2:1 breathing) and adding a sound like the ocean “ocean breath” to the exhalation. These techniques increase activity in the vagal nerve, increase vagal tone, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and anchor a busy mind completely on the breath. It sounds easy but it takes practice and patience. Our yoga classes open with a few minutes of guided mindful breathing to help your practice.
I have been a client of Stephanie’s for several years. What I think makes her stand out from other studios is that she was a doctor & understands each individual clients bodies. The new studio is airy spacious & calming
SDK Pilates is wonderful! I have been taking classes from Stephanie for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy both her Pilates and therapeutic yoga sessions. Her training as a doctor enables her to work around physical limitations and injuries and strengthen weaknesses. She has helped me immensely with chronic shoulder issues. The fun nature of the classes, the camaraderie of the attendees and the great workout make SDK classes my favorite way to exercise!
SDK Pilates is great! So far I’ve taken Pilates classes with Steph and Nancy, and I’m looking forward to Yoga with Mark. Currently working on core strengthening, shoulder mechanics, overall conditioning, and my golf game.
I have taken yoga and Pilates classes from Stephanie for many years, and I can say that she is terrific. Her background in physical medicine and rehab makes her uniquely qualified to instruct and coach with a focus in balanced strengthening, proper alignment, and prevention of injury. I enjoy the low key environment at the studio, and have made many friends in her classes.
My experience with SDK Pilates has been outstanding. All of the instructors have been knowledgeable and welcoming. All levels of fitness and capabilities are embraced, addressed and challenged. Individual needs are seamlessly met with in the class. Every class is different and I always walk out feeling better than when I walked in. I take Pilates twice a week and wish I could take it every day!
I love the classes and instructors at SDK Pilates! Stephanie, the owner, has been a tremendous help to me with understanding challenges I face with a bad hip. Her expertise and medical background have helped me select exercises that are appropriate for me and I have learned there are still plenty of things that I can do to strengthen my body! At other places, I sometimes overdid my workouts (and hurt myself) – SDK’s instructors have helped me increase my flexibility and strengthen my body in a s…
Pilates has been a wonderful experience both physically and mentally – it relieves stress and gets your body in a “can do” spirit to stretch and feel good. The instructors are the best and the people I’ve met in class are fun to be with. Friendships develop. I will do this forever!