Elizabeth Larkam

There is one aspect of beauty and wellness that, in our opinion, isn’t discussed nearly enough: posture. Numerous studies have indicated that the way we carry and move our bodies affects not only our health, but also the way others perceive us — and, importantly, the way we perceive ourselves.

So we were delighted to learn that one of our regular visitors happens to be a posture and movement guru. Elizabeth Larkam began studying Pilates in 1985 while teaching at Stanford, where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Since then, she’s built an impressive resume that includes the development of protocols with organizations ranging from Saint Francis Memorial Hospital to Cirque du Soleil; the creation of a library of DVDs and a new book, Fascia in Motion; and workshops around the world as a Pilates Master Teacher (every time we see her, she’s on her way to or from a far-flung locale). 

And we’re now even more delighted that Elizabeth shared with us an easy, efficient, effective exercise to align your body and mind in this era of ever-present screens. As Elizabeth says, "No equipment necessary. Just you, your awareness, and your intention to feel and look your best."

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ELIZABETH: In this era of screen focus, when many rely on handheld devices for connection, communication and entertainment, the eyes are the advance team of the spine. Where the gaze goes, the eyes go. Where the eyes go, the head goes. Where the head goes, the neck goes. Where the neck goes, the spine goes. Then there you go, into a posture of thoracic kyphosis, forward head, disengaged abdominals, compressed lumbar spine and rigid hip joints.

It is the human tendency to allow our movement degrees of freedom to be shaped by our environment: screen, keyboard, chair, desk, car seat, airplane seat. This compromises our ability to feel grounded and decreases the flows necessary for health and beauty. With stagnation of circulation come decreases in clarity of thought, clarity of skin, clarity of vision, and clarity of movement. 

This simple, efficient exercise can be done anywhere. It can be a gentle daily reminder to take a break from your screen and spend a few moments reconnecting with your body.  

The exercise

Between emails, texts, blogs, and Instagram:

- Put your device down 

- Gaze out, as far as your eyes can see across the room, through the window, beyond the horizon

- Breathe lightly in and out through your nose, such that your exhale is two counts longer than your inhale 

- Wrap the fingers and thumb of your right hand around the thumb of your left hand. Feel for your pulse through one breath cycle.

- Repeat, wrapping the left hand around your right thumb.

- Continue until each digit has been wrapped.

Throughout, stand or sit tall as if the back top of your brain is a helium balloon ascending, drawing your entire structure up your central axis.

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Elizabeth Larkam

About Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Larkam is internationally recognized as an innovator of movement education and practice. She pioneered the Pilates Method Alliance® initiative Heroes in Motion® andwas awarded the Medal of the Danish Society of Military Medicine in 2010 in recognition of her efforts to improve the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

Elizabeth began Pilates in 1985 while teaching dance at Stanford University, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. A Gold Certified Pilates Method Alliance® teacher, she was educated by first generation Pilates teachers. When Balanced Body® Education was founded in 2004, she became a master teacher and mentor, conducting courses throughout the world. Elizabeth is a Feldenkrais® practitioner, as well as a Gyrotonic® and Gyrokinesis® instructor.

As a Dancemedicine Pilates Specialist at Center for Sports Medicine, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, 1985–2000, Elizabeth created Pilates protocols for orthopedic, spine, and chronic pain diagnoses. While Director of Pilates & Beyond for Western Athletic Clubs, 2000–2009, she developed the internationally acclaimed Mind & Body Center within The San Francisco Bay Club.

Elizabeth’s book Fascia in Motion: Fascia-focused movement for Pilates (Handspring, 2017) is a revolutionary book inspired by the most significant publications from fascia research that melds 30 years of Pilates practice with study of the neuromyofascial system.

 

 

Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.