Friday Fun: Classical Music + Nature Sounds

As a Pilates instructor, I often treat people who experience pain on a regular basis. They look to Pilates to help them ease out muscles that are overly tight, mobilise joints and change their muscle balance and posture to prevent future aches and pains. And while Pilates can do all that, one of the body’s first responses to pain is to tighten the surrounding muscles – to what extent and exactly how is highly individual and hard to predict but the bottom line is the client will experience a seizing up of the affected area. It’s a useful response to prevent further injury but it unfortunately also means other areas will become affected. An injured ankle can result in a painful knee, tightness in the hip, niggles in the shoulder and a whole lot of other fun responses.

And while Pilates can help mobilise and stabilise – easing out the muscles that are tense and strengthening those that may be weak and cause further problems in the body -, it can be a mental and physical challenge to commit to getting the body back to a balanced state. How can you be at ease and patient when you are in pain, right?

Our Western approach would be to swallow painkillers and allow the body to move – and I have done that in the past myself – but really, painkillers can be a dangerous crutch. Knocking out your pain when the body is quite clearly tense and not willing to relax the area just yet can allow you to push past other important warning signals – like muscular fatigue for example – and cause even more damage.

I highly recommend finding ways to deal with pain that may help you relax your body and restore it without pushing it. Because pushing your body is quite often what got you to this point in the first instance. In yoga classes they often say the ease is already there. It just takes you to focus on your breathing and let your body be. Only “just” and “be” are concepts we can find hard in today’s rushed life where we so often disconnect mind and body.

Well, the good news I found is, that regardless of just how removed I am from my body, there’s always a way to get me back into it. Even into a hurting, painful body. I recently went to a yoga class with music. And you’d probably think that was  a tad distracting and takes away from the concept of focussing on your breath and body, coming out of your mind. But it actually helped me do exactly that. It provided a focus outside myself. all of a sudden, I was no longer having a chat with myself in my head about feeling my body, being in my breath and relaxing further. I ended up in a bizarre bird of paradise position, I’d never been in before. Check out a pic here. Cool, huh! (Admittedly, I didn’t quite get to that stage.)

I chatted to the teacher after and told her I seemed to be able to push past pain and get to places I hadn’t gone before. And she said I managed to switch off my ego/ self talk. True. Sometimes we THINK we feel pain or feel MORE pain when we focus on it. I did a little it of research online and found lots of evidence suggesting that music can help with various pain.

And so I’ll leave you with my Friday fun for today. A beautiful video mixing classical music with nature sounds. (A little bit Lord of the Rings but nonetheless very pretty.) And if you’d like more, head to your iTunes Radio, go to the Ambient genre and open Astral. Recommended to me by the owner of Pure in Manly, it’s one of my favourite stations. I can’t wait for the series of beach concerts that are part of the Vivid Sydney to start up again. Reporting on the Balmoral and Bondi ones a few years back for the Sunday Tele is still one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. (Iphone pic above.)

TGIF! Turn on the music and relax. And maybe go for a lovely mindful walk to classical music or turn on the tunes and sing under the shower. (There’s some evidence out there cold applied to the forehead eases anxiety… and showers rejuvenate and wash away negative energy anyhow.) Enjoy!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkh2qe6-t_4&w=560&h=315]

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