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Podcast show notes, Episode 3 - Body Awareness

Hello, Welcome back to the 3rd episode of FIKA with Fanny. I’m your host, as always, Fanny Tulloch from Mobility Training. Today I am gonna give you my take on body awareness. And I know that this term is well overused, however it does explain what I will talking about so I’m going to keep it because most people will know, at least somewhat what I am talking about.  

Let’s start by defining what body awareness means. Some people refer to it as sensory awareness because sensory means relating to sensations or the physical body, transmitted or perceived by the senses.

In wrote an article I wrote 1 year ago about body awareness this is how I defined body awareness at the time, it goes: Body awareness is one’s ability to be aware of current bodily sensations and what they might mean for how we can move.

I actually see this a bit differently now. I think that definition talks about body awareness to start where I say ‘one’s ability to be aware of current bodily sensations’ – This I think is body awareness. That we are adequately present, we’re breathing and keeping the body in our centre of attention to perceive and pick up subtle to loud signs of communication the body is telling us about its current state.

And so, the better we are at bringing our body into our awareness the better we can hear it and listen to what it is saying. Then I think the second part of that 1 year old definition that goes ‘and what they might mean for how we can move.’ Is the part that happens after we’ve received the information and are aware of the body, where we processing that information and by intuition, experience and logic we get an idea of what the most optimal decision is for us to move forward safely and efficiently.

I wrote an article recently that’s called False beliefs will hinder your growth and there I was talking about my own experience going to the gym and training based in an incorrect intention on my part. I remember this training having a certain feel to it which was basically a ‘go go go’ mentality where I would absolutely smash myself and there was little to no present moments as I was already on to the next exercise in my mind before I had physically gotten there. In this environment I didn’t have much focus on what my body was actually doing or feeling, consequently I got injured many times and was simply not feeling well.

Whilst the last few years where I’ve done a whole lot more stretches and mobility work that is less chaotic I’ve noticed my ability to feel and listen to my body a lot more which has had a profound effect on my strength training because I can direct my decisions better based on what my body can handle and need.

In my opinion, Someone’s physical training could get a lot more safe and effective is we would add work on body awareness. I think it is fundamental.

So, the question is, how do we work on body awareness, do we just pay attention to our body more when we train?

Yes, I think that will make a difference. I’m going to share a few tricks that I’ve observed myself and others do over the years that I think are contributing to an increase in sensitivity of the senses and a better ability to listen in to them.

Firstly, I do go on about this, but damn it’s important:

Breathing is the first things I do. I slow down my breathing because when I am calm I can better feel and get clarity of the sensations coming up.

Then we have the focus on keeping present with what we’re doing. 

Knowing your intention for training as a whole as well as the exercises you’re doing can help to keep you present and focused on the task.

My most recent article called Human vs. Machine in physical training goes deeper into the area of being ‘there’, being awake or being present as is the term I’m using in this article. I’ll link to it below so if you’re interested you can go check it out.

OK so we are breathing, we know our intention and can stay present with the task, the final thing which is very important for bringing it all together is Paying attention.

So having your intention and being in the room will help with this and they’re all quite interlinked but paying attention to the task at hand and almost see it as an adventure or exploration can be a good thing for keeping an open mind to what is being presented to you. Paying attention is the ‘listening to information’ part of body awareness, whilst the others are more the building blocks for that to take place.

If you find it difficult to distinguish between being present and paying attention then you can think of it like this:

If you are not ‘here’, aware of yourself and your environment, then you cannot fully pay attention to them. It’s like having the steering wheel of a bicycle but no wheels, you can’t go anywhere (unless you go flintstone on it of course).

The easiest way to start practicing being aware of your body is in calm and slow movements or even static postures. You could for example try a yoga nidra session where you scan your body and pay attention to how they feel. It could be do a seated breathing exercise or solo or even partner stretches. Starting off in a less chaotic situation will teach you how to do these things without a lot of different stimulus stealing your attention.

Once it is becoming embodied you can proceed to more dynamic movements such as strength and mobility exercises and later explosive moves. I’ve seen a great carry over in the level of body awareness I’ve gotten from the still postures and slow movements to the more dynamic, intense or even fast movements.

So that’s where I would start.

You might wonder where proprioception comes into this. Proprioception meaning knowing where you body is in space and that is part of body awareness, but it is not the only things that you are aware of when keeping your body in focus.

OK, To wrap things up.

What is body awareness?

Well, I currently see it as our ability to hear and listen in to subtle to loud feedback that we get from our physical senses.

Why is body awareness important?

Because better body awareness could help you avoid injuries and improve your performance which would make for a great environment for you to get the results you’re striving for.

How can we improve body awareness?

We make sure that we breathe well, we know our intention for doing a specific activity, we keep present and at the back of that we can then pay attention to how our body is doing in the different postures and movements. Starting with postures and slower movements may be easier than starting with more chaotic exercises like dynamic strength and mobility and explosive movements.

So far I can tell you that I’ve notice that my body awareness just keeps going up over time, so it definitely seems to be one of those things that will continue to improve as I discover more of my physical body. Tbh I’m quite excited to see where my body awareness is at in yet another year of practicing my physical body. To me it’s really cool to be able to feel more of my body and listen into it because it means I’ve got authority to do what I feel is needed, not as a reaction of what my body is having happened to it.

Anyway, I hope that all made sense and that you got something out of it.

If you did and think more people would benefit from listening to this please share it with you loved ones and consider giving me a rating on your podcast app, or however that works..

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping well in these times and I’ll speak to you again soon.

Thanks for being here!

Podcast show notes, Episode 2 - Breathing, How to set up a daily practice

Hi everyone and welcome back to my podcast Fika with Fanny. I’m your host Fanny Tulloch and this is my second episode.  Today is the 20th of March 2020 and with the corona virus marching through the world it seems that Breathing is a good topic for today.

I wrote a rather long article in November last year called “Breathing, the interface between you and your thoughts and emotions”. In today’s podcast I will talk about the main points from that article and if you’d like to read the full article click the link in the notes below.

I will assume that most people know that having too much stress in our lives is not a good thing and will slowly affect our quality of life in a negative direction.

We are constantly exposed to stress in different kinds and when we have just enough, or lagom as we would say in Sweden, we can adapt to them and grow. This stress is called Eustress. However, when the stress becomes too great for the person to adapt to and withstand, it becomes a strain. This type of negative stress is called Distress.

The distress can be both acute and cumulative. To what extent this distress is affecting a person is often dependent on their situation and previous experiences together with how well they are equipped to handle the stressed imposed upon them.

This is where abnormal breathing patterns comes in. I suspect that a high level of distress is a common reason why people adopt poor breathing patterns. I used to observe people’s breathing patterns on the bus on my way to work and more often than not the pattern was the same: Breathing through the mouth and expanding the chest and sometimes even raising the shoulders to pull enough air in. This is very poor use of our breathing, which could work as a down regulating tool that we use to recover and calm the body in between needing to act on the stressor that we have present.

I wrote about 6 different types of poor breathing patterns and why they may occur in the article so if you’re interested in knowing more go have a read via the link below. I’ll move on to talk about what a better breathing pattern would look like for combating distress.

Did you know that us humans are unique in the way that we can consciously control the way we breath? It is actually not many mammals on this earth that have the ability do that, many mammals take one breath per stride. So, knowing this, it does not surprise me, that many of the primary practices in contemplative work has breathing as their first lesson and that it is also the center point in the work.

I’ve had some quite profound experiences practicing breathing myself. One that was particularly strong was when Luke and I flew to San Francisco last year and my fear of flying and dying to be honest, kicked in big time as a result of the turbulence we had. I thought panicking was not going to be all that useful, so I came back to my breathing. I used a breathing technique I call the Fundamental breath and I did so until the air hostess put a tray of food on my table. Which was perhaps 30 minutes later or so. What I understood then was that the turbulence caused an immediate fear response in me thinking that I would die. However, when I started breathing, I could instead see the situation for what it was, we experienced turbulence but that didn’t necessarily mean we were going down. I was able to keep a strong focus on my breathing to the point where my fear didn’t have space and it went away. I entered a space where I did not experience any negative emotions.

This is when I understood how powerful breathing can be so I’m going to teach you how to start your own breathing practice. If you’re interested, pour yourself some coffee and keep listening. Perhaps take some notes, if you’d like.

Since poor breathing patterns have often become deeply rooted, we need to be thorough in our observations and practice in a way the body can take on board and embody.

Step 1. Start by sitting upright on a chair with feet on the ground. Set your posture by bringing arms out to the sides and up over head. Elongate through the spine and keep tall as you bring the arms back to the sides and down and placing the hands on the thighs. Roll one shoulder back, then the other shoulder back and you have your practice posture set.

Step 2. Breathe as normal. Observe your breathing. What can you feel? Consider things like: Are you breathing via the mouth or nose currently? And how does that feel? Is it staggered or smooth? What is your breathing rate like- fast or slow? Does your posture change as you breathe? A hint here is that breathing is moving and if you’re staying completely still you might be holding tension. Is the breathing shallow or deep? Take a mental note of what you observe.

If you find the practice thus far interesting and useful. You may want to stay here for some time, a few times or days. Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice daily. 

Step 3. When you’ve got a clear picture of where you’re at move on to take control of the breath. So, what is a good-looking breathing pattern in the first place?

The first thing I would look at is trying to make the breath longer, especially by increasing the length of the exhale because this phase of the breath in particular helps to calm the body. Something that might help here is to move the air further down, into the abdomen rather than stopping at the chest. If we can add a short pause after the exhale that is great too, but I have found that it is easier for people to increase the duration of the exhale by moving the air deep first, before anything else.

The second thing I would practice is breathing in and out through the nose. This will filter the air before it goes into the lungs and it is harder to inhale rapidly so it promotes a slower breathing rate. If the nose is blocked you might need to do some modifications here, the second-best thing would be to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. But of course, if there’s no air coming through the nose at all breath through the mouth and be conscious of the rate that the air is moving through.

A third thing I would look at after these 2 have been practiced for some time is to analyse if and where the body keeps tension when you do your breathing. The reason I divide the breathing progressions like this is because the body will have a difficult time working on all these things at once to start with. So, by working on one thing after the other you allow the body to take it on board more efficiently.

So, when you’re going through step 2 which is observing your breath you will take note on where you’re at and what it is you need to work on for your breathing to become slow and smooth with expansion and movement through the ribcage as the air moves in and out through the nose.

In step 3 you will take control and work on the things that you find most difficult and when that has become more familiar you can later on add another focus point to work on.

This is one way you can begin a breathing practice. It is not the only one. The reason I share this particular one is as said that it’s worked very well for me and the students that have been able to stay consistent with the practice. You may find that part of this method is useful for you or that other ways are better for you that’s all good, the main thing is that you keep consistent. Start with 5 minutes per day and when you feel ready increase the duration in 2min intervals till you reach 15 minutes. And be aware that the concentration should be on the breathing so if you find that you start thinking about dinner, what you’re doing tomorrow etc. you might’ve increased the duration to quick.

I’ve found that having a strong breathing practice is useful for developing a tool that can calm your body. Creating an interface between you and your thoughts and emotions may be the pause needed to move forward in a way that you want instead of coming from a place habit.

Alright, I’ll leave you with that for now.

If you’ve found this episode useful or not, I’d love to get your feedback. You can find my email address below. If you liked it please consider giving it a 5 star rating and share it with you loved ones.

Thanks for listening, I’ll talk to you again soon.

Podcast show notes, Episode 1 - Introduction

Hello everyone!

Thanks for tuning in to my podcast called ‘Fika with Fanny’. My name is Fanny Tulloch and I’ll be your host. I run a company called Mobility Training which is focused around teaching people Calisthenics Strength and mobility. This teaching starts with improving the way people move to later get them to experience their body’s potential for doing skill work and building general strength and mobility.

In this episode I will introduce myself and my work so you can see if this podcast is something you want to spend your time listening to. Of course, I hope that it will be.

Let’s start with explaining what the word ‘FIKA’ means. Fika is a Swedish word that means ‘to have a break’. But it’s not just having a break, it means to sit down, often together with loved ones, with a delicious cup of coffee and some kind of sweet baked gods like a cinnamon scroll or a chocolate ball. To start with, this podcast will serve as an audio library for sharing the work that I do but later on I’m hoping to bring some dear and knowledgeable friends on for more of a conversation type of podcast. So, brew a cup and listen in! 

So, here’s a bit about where I come from:

I was born and grew up in Sweden in a small place with like 5000 people. When I was little my parents signed me up for swimming lessons but after I rather stayed home watching TV my dad took me down to the local wrestling club. My brother and cousins wrestled, and my dad was a coach and when I was 9 years old, I was told I needed to do ‘something’ so wrestling it was.

I wrestled for about 10 years. It was great because I got to travel around Sweden and even some parts of Europe to compete in France, the Netherlands, Norway and Check Republic.

It was the best fun! During my wrestling years I met a lot of awesome friends, some of which I still keep in contact with. The girls would braid each other’s hairs and exchange back massages in between keeping a good eye on the lists for when the pretty boys were wrestling. It really was the best fun!

Looking back now years after I can see how I adopted false beliefs and strange habitual patterns during this time in my life. Not just due to wrestling but I’m sure dieting and feeling the pressure of looking good in a wrestling suit did exacerbate performance anxiety which paralyzed me on the mat at times.

These are things I will most likely talk about in future podcasts.

I stopped wrestling when I moved to Halmstad to do a university degree that would allow me to work as a personal trainer. At that time body building and powerlifting training took over. I competed in Body building which sparked my interest for working with people who wanted to step on stage themselves.

That brought me to Australia in 2013. I wanted to learn from different coaches relating to body building training and competition and of course travel to see the country. That’s when I met my husband Luke.

Luke had a special energy about him that pulled me back to Sydney after I finished travelling, even after been offered jobs in Brisbane and Melbourne. And I say ‘even’ because prior to meeting Luke, my career was more important to me than a romantic relationship.

A lot of what I teach today started to cultivate when I met Luke and moved to Sydney. Of course, many experiences before that gave me precious lessons but in 2015 my work started looking very different.

I put body building and powerlifting on the shelf and started Calisthenics strength and mobility training.

Much of the physical practice I teach now is with a base of bodyweight strength. I enjoy looking at how people are currently moving and improve that from head to feet. My work is about showing the student where they’re at then teaching them ways to experience where they can go. This goes for the physical as well as mental and emotional aspects of being a human. Some of my students have acquired better handstands or chin ups in this process while others are able to feel their body better and stop themselves from injury. A big part of what I’m working towards is guiding the person behind the student of physical practice to do more of what they want to do in this life. I believe physical practice can serve as a great medium for changing the human at a deeper level.

With this in mind, in this podcast I’d like to explore different physical, mental and emotional concepts. And since a lot of this is individual, I’ll talk from my own experience and current understanding together with my students feedback about how we can improve ourselves as humans. Or perhaps it is better to say something along the lines of ‘opening up to the person we are deep inside and in this process peeling off the layers of behaviors and characteristics that we’ve put on over the years, that are simply not us’

It is quite likely that you would’ve experienced things differently to how I talk about it. This is cool, we’re all on the same but different journey’s.. so, If you’d like to add your 2 cents and share your experience on a topic then please reach out I’d love to hear from you.

If there’s a specific topic you’d like me to chat about then please reach out. I’ll let you know if I don’t’ have enough knowledge or experience in the matter at this point in time but if I do – I’ll proceed to share my perspective.

Thanks for listening this far. I appreciate you being here with me. If you like this episode please consider sharing it with your people and if you’d like to chat and follow my work you can find me on facebook, Instagram and youtube under the name ‘mobilitytrainingau’ and my website is mobilitytraining.com.au

Thanks, Until next time!