flexibility

Why online training is the best thing you can find when you're "coachless"

Why online training is the best thing you can find when you're "coachless"

When I was looking for flexibility coaches, I had to do a long and grueling search that led me many times nowhere. Living in Las Vegas, you'd think I have it easy right? With all the shows, artists and performers.

How to maximize your flexibility training: understanding how your body performs best

An adult body is not a blank canvas, there have been already many "drawings" made on it, through lifestyle, past physical activities, past injuries, postural habits... in a word: life. That's why, contrary to kids that receive all the same training, the older you are the more specific and personalized your training become. Nobody can teach you exactly what's best for your body type, you have to try things out and make adjustments along the way. For example: some warm ups are really beneficial to you, but not to someone else. Some moves will look okay on you but better on someone else and viceversa. You're unique! And so your training should be. These are some of my finds, remember not excuses but actual facts that I have to consider to keep training in a smart way and continue to improve.

Height: I'm tall (5'11"). There is a reason why circus performers are usually short! It's easier to bend and balance a small/short body rather than a big/long one. My frame will always challenge my balance and put my lower back under strenuous work, since the lower back not only bends but supports and holds the weight of legs in inverted positions (cheststands, handstands) and of the torso in standing backbends (like going into bridge). This means I have to alternate intense stretches with easier variations to avoid too much soreness.

harder on lower back

IMG_1693

easier on lower back

IMG_7811 Past injuries: if you're active, you'll experience some type of injury. It's a fact! The only way to be immune to injuries is basically live in bed lol, but even that wouldn't be good for you. So there will be injuries that will heal completely and never come back, other ones will come and go, some will stay with you and you have to live with them! That's another reason why your training becomes so individual and specific, you have to adapt it around your injury. For example, I have a shoulder I hurt a while ago, I can stretch it but I know its limits, and I know which stretches help loosing it up and which ones  just make it hurt more.

Injury example: a strain to the long head of biceps femoris (hamstrings)

2002_07_17_15_03_35_706 Body Structure: this is about proportions. Long legs will tire lower back faster, bigger bone structure means more challenging bending ( I think it has to do with size in general, longer muscles, thicker ligaments, more tissues to bend, more distance to go from A to B). Someone with a short torso and big butt will reach headsit easier than someone with long torso and no butt! Size matters.

0f9d9c5057e0a1438f3ab8277b35fb77 Imbalances: we all have a predominant side, either a stronger one or a more flexible one, most of people also have a slight scoliosis. Uneven strength and uneven flexibility, mixed with some scoliosis cause imbalances that needs to be addressed with correct exercises, making sure to reduce the difference as much as possible. This way you avoid future injuries or wear and tear of a specific area of your back - or hip etc.

Me a while ago, noticeably imbalanced with my right back side being less bendy

IMG_3614 All this goes into: Moves that hurt / moves that fit: some positions you will try and find very akward and uncomfortable, but eventually get better at it. Others, will never get better or just keep hurting. That's when you can choose (especially if creating a performance piece), what your body type looks better doing and FEELS better doing. But not before learning all the basics! (Cheststands etc).

Crocodile is probably one of my best moves :D

sofia_venanzetti_11_02_14_8631 Rest: Training every day won't make you better, you will accumulate a lot of soreness and the risk of injuries will greatly raise. Training creates "mini damages" to your muscles and tissues that need to be healed each time, so you can do it again and again and get better at it. If you don't heal you can aggravate these mini damages. I take at least 1-2 days off a week and alternate intense with less intense sessions. Sleep and days off are essential as training days are.

Remember you only have one body, train smart ;)

The high demands of training

Since little, I was taught that being active was a natural part of life. Moving, using our body  - instead of just passively living in it- develops coordination, proprioception and is the foundation of learning skills. I was playing outside, running around with my bicycle, doing sports... Few years later, when I started weight training, it didn't take me long to figure that results required sacrifices. I wasn't playing around anymore, I wanted to see my body changing and being able to do extraordinary stuff. I was a young girl ready and willing to step it up. L10_6705

me at 23ish training at Gold's Gym, Miami Beach

If you train with purpose you need a certain lifestyle. This lifestyle has high demands and you make daily decisions in favor or against it. Not always you can put your training as first priority, but you should always try: only so you'll see the changes you wish to see, or the skills you wish to learn taking form.

Your energy and performance level depend on sleep, diet, habits, rest.

A sleepless night doesn't kill you, but if you train you know what a key role sleeping plays in recovery. There is no progress without sleep, and often you'll have to pick between a night of party (fun!) or a night of sleep (sometimes boring) that will assure you a great condition for training hard the day after. I used to turn down all parties! But then I learned that I can always come home early and still get good sleep, or planning a day off the day after I have a night out.

FullSizeRender (9)

I definitely partied on my B-day :D

Diet is something else that has a huge impact on training. You are what you eat, seriously! So be a broccoli :) lol just kidding, but vegetables should be ALWAYS included in your meals, if not all, most! Also lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats. AND A LOT OF WATER. Simple, clean food you can distinguish the ingredients in it. Example of something I'm having often lately: brown rice, olive oil, steamed veggies, smoked salmon, lemon juice.

IMG_3645

I love local markets!

You also need good habits. There's a time to eat, a time to train, a time to sleep, a time to work. I know sounds boring, but your body is a simple machine that performs best when it's used to something. Even with training, pick a time and make your body used to the fact that you train at lunch time or late afternoon. This also will help to remind yourself to be more consistent without forgetting sessions.

Another good habit has to do with avoiding drugs and alcohol. I still have to find an athlete who do drugs or drink and doesn't find it deadly on the body (one drink sometimes is fine, binge drinking is not). A trained body is a highly functional body and it's very susceptible to drugs, drugs are not for the healthy athlete who cares about their performances and have love for their body.

FullSizeRender (10)

healthy body happy bending Last but definitely not least...Rest. Sometimes you need to do nothing! It's precious time your body needs to recharge. Rest is not sleep, it's actually having a day a week or two where you don't physically tire yourself. It's somehow hard to take days off when you're used to train every day, you either worry that a day off will halt your progress or you actually don't know what to do with your time off - lol I had that feeling many times. But now I take time off to rest and be lazy and drive around or watch a movie, because I remind myself I work hard so I feel I deserve it :)

Strong. Capable. Confident. Healthy. Younger: definitely consequences that are worth the sacrifices!

Why you need to learn to relax more than anything else

(The following statements come from my experience, not medical facts so take them as my personal advice but not absolute law!) I didn't get flexible because I was naturally gifted, nor because I was strong. I did get flexible because, most of all, I learned to relax my body.

You can hurt your muscles and joints in several ways, but mainly with: sudden fall/unexpected movement, overstretching, pushing a contracted muscle to stretch.

The first one can be happening from everyday activities or quickly entering/exiting a position without giving the muscle enough time to lengthen/shorten (dropping into a split with no warm up, getting out too fast from a split/oversplit).

Overstretching (going where the muscle is not yet ready to go, too deep) is a common mistake when trying to increase flexibility so you have to learn the difference between pushing close to your limits and really damaging your muscles, ligaments or tendons. Usually a sharp acute pain is a bad sign, while a progressive, uncomfortable "lengthening" feeling should be fine. Overstretching can cause strains/sprains that can take few days to months to heal (sprains -injury to ligament- take longer). You want to avoid that to not hinder your progress.

Pushing a contracted muscle to stretch is really not a good idea for several reasons. A muscle that resists a stretch doesn't want to be bent, it's tensing to escape the stretch. When you start stretching deeper, that is going to be the first instinctive reaction your body will do. You can read about it in anatomy books, how your muscle initially react to a stretch stimulus is with contraction: a mechanism of defense (remember your body is very dramatic and fearful, always thinking you're up to no good ;) ). If you try to stretch a contracted muscle you'll create injury (tear, strain), so the greatest effort you have to do when trying to increase flexibility is LEARNING TO RELAX INSTEAD TO TENSE UP. This is the most basic concept of passive stretching, but seems like nobody talks about it. We as adult have a hard time relaxing, our muscles only relax in situations we're not even aware of (sleeping, sitting - we don't think about it) so learning consciously to tell a muscle to relax, especially in quite challenging positions can be very difficult, but necessary. There can't be lengthening without relaxation. To further support my point, I want you to look at these two pictures:

IMG_3480 (1)

On the left side, I'm tensing my glutes and back muscles after getting into cheststand. On the right my glutes and back muscles are relaxed. Can you tell the difference? On left I feel discomfort and tension in neck, shoulders, back and hips/glutes, breathing is harder and my upper and middle back are barely bending. If I stay in this position, there won't be a way to move further, because I'm tensing. In the right picture I breathe better and feel an even stretch throughout my spine, my hips are lower and my neck and shoulders are open, I could go deeper (for example, start straightening my legs). Please understand this is not an example which applies to beginners, but it's to make you see the difference between tensed and relaxed.

Of course if you're starting out with cheststand, your body will enter the position tensed and you won't be fully relaxed till your feet touch something (a chair, if the floor is way too far). But learning to relax will help you so much to improve and automatically exit the "panic mode" you'll experience at the beginning. How do you relax into a challenging position, in which your body wish to get out as quickly as possible instead? BREATHE. Breathing - even shallow breathing - and relaxing are key to bend !

I hope you found this helpful, remember it's only when you relax that your body stop being scared and allows you to move further. Always warm up for at least half hour before trying challenging stretches and make sure you got down the right technique first!!!

Thanks to my coach Otgo Waller who explained me many of these concepts :)

Happy bendings and Happy Thanksgiving too!

Q&A about contortion

Even though I don't consider myself an expert (I've only been doing this for 2 years), being an Exercise Science major and a personal trainer for more than 10 years have definitely helped me to understand better my experience of "adult contorting", or at least figure out partially what my body is going through. Here are some questions I asked and answered myself through research and experience:

What the hell am I stretching?

What is happening in your body when you stretch? Basically, your muscles are the ones mainly stretching. Your ligaments stretch when your muscles are maxed out. Your ligaments are thick and resistant, NOT very flexible. Tendons are not flexible.

Should I put ICE or HEAT on a muscle?

HEAT,HEAT and HEAT! Ice is good for decreasing inflammation right after sudden injuries (like falling and twisting your ankle). For everything else (soreness, pulled muscle) you want heat, which promotes blood flow and healing.

Something hurts... what happened?

It's not uncommon to overstretch/strain muscles in contortion. Of course you wanna avoid that by warming up really good and gradually sink deeper into a stretch without rushing. But if that happens, don't panic: a strain can heal in few days or few weeks, depending how severe it is.

Why can't I do this everyday?

An adult body can't perform contortion every day with the same intensity. You will have to alternate hardcore with easy, till you don't get more experienced. If you can backbend no problem everyday... well lucky you lol.

Can I do contortion AND ...weights, pole, aerial, crossfit?!

This all depends on how far you want to go with your contortion and also how old you are. If you're under 25 you might be able to train different disciplines without necessarily affecting negatively your contortion improvement. But in my experience I had to make a drastic decision and cut out almost all other training I was doing, because they would get in the way with contortion (my body would get too stiff and sore). Beside contortion I still do cardio (run, stepmill, bike or elliptical), body weight workouts and floorwork/no-tricks pole dance.

How do I heal a strain?

(FYI Strain: damaged muscle tissue. Sprain: damaged ligament tissue)

It sucks. But as I said earlier, a muscle can heal! You just need patience, heat packs, massages, little rest and lighter training on the affected area.

Am I stiff or sore? What's the difference?

This is how I classify stiff and sore:

STIFF--> many causes, often not identified (could be hormones change, dry or cold weather, sitting too much, walking too much, standing a lot, high heels, not sleeping, drinking alcohol/being dehydrate, be mad/stressed and so on... basically having a life lol). The feeling is very annoying and hard to get rid of, usually some cardio to warm up the body, light stretching or a hot bath helps.

SORE--> usually the cause is previous training. It feels painful but gets better while warming up. I prefer sore rather than stiff... the worst is when you have both, ahah!

That's it for tonight's blog.

Stay flexible, friends!

 

 

 

 

20140719-193644-70604138.jpg

The last one to open is the first one to close

I like to take notes of my body changes with training contortion, and lately I just came to a new interesting conclusion. Basically, the newest body part that improved in flexibility (by opening and stretching deeper to a new limit), it's also the first one to get stiff, sore and refuses to reach the new limit all the times. I'll try to be more clear: My 29 yo body didn't improve its flexibility all at once. It happened gradually and in "sections".

The first section of my body that got more flexible was my hips, it didn't take me long, also because of all body parts, my hips received some attentions in the past (through yoga and some stretching on my own). That's why I don't think I'll ever lose my splits. They are solid, they've been around for a while now, I rarely feel stiff in that area. My hips are definitely my most flexible body part and the first one of all to feel open.

Image

my first split in 2008

When I started contortion I began to work on my back flexibility for the first time. I remember of all my back, my lower would get incredibly sore, and because of my long body, that area would naturally take a lot of the bend. I would rarely get sore above my lower back. I wasn't aware of the rest of my back (middle and upper), I couldn't tell what I was bending, beside when receiving passive stretches from my coach. With time the soreness on my lower back decreased, my body "accepted" the new flexibility: it stopped fighting against it and I started bending more evenly throughout my whole spine. Definitely the second section of my body to become more flexible was my lower back.

Image

Lower back work in 2012, the beginning of contortion

After that, it was my shoulders. I spent lot of time creating more space in shoulder flexion, with many shoulder stretches and variations. I had way more muscle than flexibility there, but I feel my shoulders opened pretty good (even with a small past injury on my right one) with no major resistance from my body. I got some soreness, but definitely stopping altogether heavy pole practice and lifting weights helped a lot. I still have work to do but I'd say shoulders was my third body section to open.

Image

Opening them up !

Now I can definitely say the newest section that started to finally give up and open is my middle and upper back. After approximately a year of contortion, I started really FEELING my middle and upper back getting more engaged in each stretch. I actually try to minimize lower back work and focus primarily on middle and upper. I need to actively relax my legs, breathe and send all my concentration to that area, and slowly I feel a response. So out of my WHOLE body, this is the part I'm taking to a new level lately and let me tell you, my body doesn't like it ALL the times. That's why on a stiff day, my middle and upper back are the FIRST to refuse to cooperate, they get stiff and leave hips, lower back and shoulders all the work. This is what the title of this post is about, the last body part that opens, is the first one to close and go "on strike" every now and then, a newborn flexibility that can hypothetically even disappear if you stop trying. So do not take breaks, you should be working your hardest on your most challenging body part. You could have the opposite situation of me: a very bendy back and stiff hips. Let's say you work a while on your splits and one day you finally get to the floor, yay! Then you try another day and... it's not happening. WHY! Your body has not forgotten you did the splits, it's just having a hard time making it happen all the times, but eventually it WILL. So don't get discouraged, give your body the time (could be weeks, months, or more...each body is different) to be ok with the new way of being you're creating for it. When you set a new limit you will get it gradually more often, as long as you practice and don't stop :)

 

20140427-201129.jpg

Balance and Flexibility in life

As you know in the last couple years I completely changed the way I trained my body, and I won't bore you again on how much I like contortion etc, so don't leave me yet ;) Training my body differently had a huge impact on how I see my life today, how I think, make decisions and behave. I've always used my body as a mean to deal with life, my approach to it has always been a consequence of how I treated my body, what I did with it, and so it's now. I used to not know the actual meaning of BALANCE and FLEXIBILITY, I didn't know the great gifts and freedom those two brings. In life if you don't aim to take care of a variety of aspects (how's your social life, your family, career, relationships, passions) you'll burn yourself out, on one front or the other. You'll be amazing at something (like your job) and sucking at something else (neglecting friends and family, call them when you need etc). I'm not saying you need to have everything perfectly working, that's unrealistic, but you should aim to a balance in your life where you can find satisfaction on many fronts, not just one or two.

Flexibility, that had a tremendous impact in my way of thinking, too. I now consider myself open to changes, I accept the new, let go the old, I'm mentally flexible, I adjust myself to what life brings me. We really have no choice! You can't fight changes, because changes are part of life, and they happen. Some things last a very long time, other don't, and it's ok. The more I get old the more I understand this.

HAPPY EASTER!

EasterBunny

 

Yours,

20140419-095720.jpg

Can I develop strength and flexibility at the same time?

This question reminds me something I used to be asked a LOT when I was doing fitness: can I build muscle and lose fat at the same time? Well in total honesty and from my humble experience, our body doesn't like to do more than one thing at a time. To some degree you can become flexible and strong, but I don't believe the two can happen together, you'll have to work first on passive flexibility (lengthen), then on active flexibility (lengthen+strengthen).  Working only on active flexibility will not deepen your stretches, but control them better. First off let me define what active and passive flexibility are: active flexibility is "the ability to assume and maintain extended positions using only the tension of the agonists and synergists muscles while the antagonists are being stretched", like for example lifting your leg as high as you can, with no help from your hands. Passive flexibility is "the ability to assume and maintain extended positions using only your weight, the support of your limbs or some other apparatus (a chair, blocks etc)", splits on the floor are an example of passive flexibility."Research has shown that active flexibility is more closely related to the level of sports achievement than is passive flexibility. Active flexibility is harder to develop than passive flexibility; not only does active flexibility require passive flexibility in order to assume an initial extended position, it also requires muscle strength to be able to hold and maintain that position."

I believe active flexibility works best with those who already have good flexibility foundation and actually need more muscle strength and control for their sport, or they tend to be more supple than average people and unstable in the joints so strengthening is a priority (kids are the perfect example). Passive flexibility works best for everyone else who lack muscle suppleness and the ability to relax (tend to be stiff -->most adults, over 20-25 yo). If you're starting out as an adult I'd learn first how to RELAX your muscles with passive stretches, create space, lengthen, learn how to breathe and let go of unneeded tension. Adult bodies are stiff and active flexibility alone won't increase dramatically suppleness, I'm not saying it wouldn't work but I would integrate it later on when a basic foundation of passive flexibility has been established. 

Me in passive stretching, oversplit on couch

IMG_5825

and active, from standing going into bridge

New Project 10 08

Reference: http://web.mit.edu/tkd/stretch/stretching_3.html

The happiness of freedom

Anytime in my life I had a goal, desire or passion for something, and fulfilling that certain dream was up to my own decision and action, I gave all myself. The first time I remember doing it, was for a wrong cause, but at the time I didn't know it. I was 16 and I wanted to be a fashion model. In Italy models are extremely  skinny (seriously, fashion world is sick and I now hate it) Fashion-Model-Health-thumb-375x561-63474

So being a teenager and not knowing any better, I wanted to be like them... to the point where the more bones were showing, the better. I dedicated a whole 3-4 years to that purpose. I left any interest and close person behind, I don't have many memories of that time because my brain was zooming in one only point: being skinny and whatever I had to do in order to become that way. It was the most brutal fight I had within myself, I was fighting hunger everyday, dieting was my sport, losing weight was all that made me happy, really. I expressed my feelings with drawing, I remember drawing a skinny mean Sofia beating up the good pretty Sofia, or the good Sofia trying to escape...

 

I don't even want to spend too much time talking about it, anyway my goal turned into a compulsion and I became victim of it. I lost track and it ate me up, I was trapped. Slowly and painfully I got out of that sickening mentality and found a "healthier" passion (wasn't so healthy as it sounds). I literally fell in love with fitness and weight training, I loved strong, fit bodies and since I was coming from a past of obsessive control, the idea of controlling my body diversely (to be lean and strong) really excited me. I could eat! But extremely controlled still, and everything had to be in a certain way (no oil, no butter, no wheat, no carbs, everything measured etc). I started getting some muscle but still I wasn't getting the point: beating myself up wasn't necessary the best way to reach a goal or fulfill a passion, nor being isolated from the rest of the world because I had to go home and eat my three egg-whites...

So again I learned a lot from that, I got better, ate more, still I was going thru a lot of body-mind conflicts. I couldn't find a balance, I was happy to train, cook, go to the market, study the body, test my limits but deep down I knew something wasn't right. I just didn't know how to live differently anymore. What did it mean "eat whatever you want"? "Train tomorrow relax today/go out with friends/do something different"? I was still drawing, better situations, bad Sofia now was friend with good, fit Sofia. But she was still there...

With many ups and downs, body weight fluctuations, I kept fitness/body building as my steady passion for many years. I really loved weight training and how it made my body look. I competed several times and did fitness modeling.

Image When I found pole dancing, I started to feel the desire to explore a part of me I never knew I had: a sensual, "sexy" side, which was nothing but my woman/feminine side, that side I neglected all my life with my insanely strict diet and training ! So all in a sudden I wanted to nurture that side (surely not thru food). Pole dancing did nurture it, and beside feeling completely awkward and disgraceful at the beginning, I loved it. So at that time I had weight training still my #1 passion, and pole dancing right up the alley. I started drawing pole dancers and heels ;)

 

Image

 

I wasn't completely out of my body-mind war, still controlling a lot my food and training, with little to no time for anything else (beside school).

I'm talking about years here... So all I said so far is about a 10 years evolution. Now, this is the last biggest part. While pole dancing my butt off day in and out, I started to grow more and more interest for flexibility. At the beginning I wanted to be more flexible to be better on the pole. But then, about six months after, I lost some of my pole enthusiasm (it turned out I preferred Floorwork) and figured that I would dedicate myself fully to flexibility, and more specifically, contortion!

 

Image Few months into contortion, I realized there was NO WAY I could keep up with weight training, at least the way I used to. So slowly I had to take it out of my life :( Leg training was actually the HARDEST thing to give up to. I LOVED training legs. I loved squats, dead lifts... And I mean, pretty freaking heavy. Wasn't squatting 10lbs just to clarify, more like 130-140lbs. I said bye to my round full butt and opted for a smaller one lol, still trained my body but very differently, whatever was making me stiff was off limits.

But the biggest change I experienced with discovering this new passion (contortion), was that I didn't need to focus so much on my appearance (therefore diet); that draining control on food wasn't necessary anymore. All I had to do was training! And yes eating healthy, but at least not to the point I had to refuse going out for dinner, go to a bar with friends, hang out at a party etc... So I ended up fueling my body better and my mind "flourished", I became more social and relaxed, finally BALANCED. I felt a new way of happy...The happiness of freedom. Freedom to move, go out, eat... Flexibility has a huge meaning to me. So I'm sorry if sometimes I talk about it so much but 1. It's my passion and I give all myself to it 2. It gave me the greatest freedom I ever had

And bad Sofia is no longer in the drawings. It's only good Sofia, and she's very flexible :)

Image

Yoga and contortion

From Wikipedia: "Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace of mind in order to experience one's true self."

"Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is an unusual form of physical display which involves the dramatic bending and flexing of the human body."

In 2008, before starting pole dancing, I had a few months of devoted yoga time, more specifically Ashtanga/Vinyasa yoga. I chose Ashtanga because at the time it seemed the most "hardcore" one (I tried Bikram too, but I couldn't stand the heat). What was I looking for in yoga? Honestly, I wanted to be more flexible. You see I had this desire already back in 2008, but little did I know about contortion or flexibility training, I thought yoga was the way to go. It lasted for a while, then I got bored. I got bored of sun salutations (why so many?), of poses I wasn't getting a sense of challenge out of it, of its philosophy, I wanted it to be fully physical, mind and body work, without the spirituality and the mantras (ommmmmmm).

Yoga is great don't get me wrong, but wasn't for me. In my experience yoga (Ashtanga) trains the mind-body connection, and it gives a solid foundation of flexibility, but it doesn't take you further, because "the goal of this style is not to learn the more difficult asanas but rather to learn to maintain internal focus throughout the practice" (from Wikipedia). It has flow (vinyasa) and develop core strength (bandhas), challenge your balance and create great alignment, but I think it doesn't focus on a personal and unique path of discovering the body and its capabilities (my interest).

Contortion, first of all is considered an art, and it's spirituality-free. Contortion in my experience focuses on the poses and the stretches that get you to the poses (that make up an act to perform), it's very straight forward. Also, contortion is not for everyone. It's very hard and difficult to learn, especially after a certain age. It can be extreme and scary. Yoga is rarely extreme and scary. Contortion is mainly based on back bending, splits, handstands and such; while yoga I believe it's more about perfect alignment, opening hips, inversions, some shoulder and lower back bending, but there is zero neck lengthening and little middle/upper back work. The breathing is also used differently. Yoga is very popular in Western society, while contortion is rare and not well known. You can learn yoga with an average instructor or by yourself, but you can't learn contortion, because you can get hurt and beyond every pose there is a long preparation for it, which you need an expert teacher to guide you through. I feel so blessed because I met my coach Otgo Waller, who happened to be a Mongolian contortionist (check her page here) and one of the few professionals familiar with working with adults. I owe her so much and look forward to train with her as often as I can. So I'd say yoga's primary goal is not advancing the flexibility but creating a deeper connection with the self through the practice, it's still a good way to get flexible, just with a different approach and a different philosophy. Contortion is pure flexibility training, the deepest way to test your limits and will, and to take down your fears. It also transforms your body completely. To me contortion takes you above and beyond any expectation you might start with, yoga has an ends in itself. But again, this is just my experience :) whatever you choose, make sure it's right for you and it makes you happy.

Me doing yoga

L10_6736

Me doing contortion

20140228-225920.jpg

Things that I started to feel different after +1 year of contortion

tumblr_inline_n03pcxzmJO1qj7kkd So my body after a year of contorting at least 3 times a week, feels like finally has started to accept the new way of being, and nags way less about it. There have been months where I personally doubted why I was putting myself thru all that strenuos training. It was painful and scary, but so rewarding that quickly I could't help it but keep going. There are not many things that fascinated me like the human body, and pushing its limits. I really feel like the bumble bee, I probably shouldn't have done contortion given my age, little flexibility background, height etc, but there wasn't a real reason for me to not believing in myself, so...

Now the biggest changes I started to experience so far, are:

Lot of cracking. My back cracks every day, even just standing up or slightly twisting. I love to crack my back to release tension. Cracking per se it's not bad, it means your joints are more flexible and the little gas molecules  inside, with a pressure change, make a pop sound.

I'm more sensible to cold, sitting, walking or standing for long time. Those are the most common reason for my back to get stiff.

I never felt more free in my life. I have the greatest freedom of movement and a deep sense of relaxation after I stretch. I cant imagine how constricted must feel the regular population lol!

I developed a fine tuning between mind and body, a profound connection and communication. The fear is what keeps mind and body apart. If you don't take down your fears, you can't fully see what's your body potential. You need a mind free of fear to guide a body into defying logic and common sense, because contortion is none of them aha!

I'm less hungry (don't know why, probably I started eating less, it's awful to be full and stretch!)

I sleep in weird positions.

I sit even in more weird positions, every time I have a chance to be on the floor I go not thinking twice.

My mood often is related to how my body feels. If I'm stiff, I can get very pissed :-P

And lastly, I get way less sore than in the beginning, Yay!

20140226-010828.jpg

2014 Update!

photo-5.jpg

Well, it's been quite a while since I've been here, probably my writing is rusty too, but I'm willing to come back, because this blog is special to me, it's like a beautiful memories container, my storybook and online diary. Also I thought I write and post many thoughts on my Facebook page, that get lost down the feeds, so it makes more sense to blog and save those thoughts :) Since my last blog, those are the most meaningful updates from my life up to today:

1. I live, talk and breathe contortion. I invest a lot of my time with flexibility training.

2. I moved to Chicago! And yes, I miss Vegas.

3. I performed a contortion act twice :) one at Pole Expo in Vegas (watch it here) and another one at The Brass Ring in Chicago (here, pretty sexy uh!).

4. At the moment I'm focusing a lot of my time working with my online classes and teaching at two great pole studios in Downtown Chicago. As I get better with my contortion, I'm really considering to perform more often, I'm going make it a part-time job, hopefully.

5. I got back to driving. Ugh, it still terrifies me every time. So I'm still in the process of getting comfortable with it.

6. I'm trying to travel somewhere every few months, either to Vegas to visit my friends and my coach Otgo Waller, which I miss terribly, or Florida, for workshops and the beach (TOO COLD HERE!), or less frequently Italy, to see my family and do more workshops. I love travelling, I think it recharges you and keeps you from sitting back and froze in a routine.

7. About my back, last post I was writing about acupuncture because I was going through some bad muscular pain, but it went away itself! My first year of contortion was pretty painful at times, but it's common when you just begin, your body is not accustomed to the new way of being. I still get sore, but not as bad.

That's it for now, I'll be back soon! Here's a picture from yesterday at the gym

Image