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Our knees are vulnerable places. If feet or hips are out of balance, that misalignment will show up in the knees. Given that the knees are in the middle of the leg, they are the ones that will be scrambling to compensate. Mindfulness around any vulnerable places is a way of offering strength, support and healing where it is most (k)needed.

All the playlists from the week are below or you can listen to them by going to Spotify! Listen and dance for free at Spotify! Sign up, follow me at “susanmcculley” and you’ll find my public playlists ~ just click and listen!

And first the announce-y things:

• FREE Workshop: Cultivating Resilience with Mary Linn & Susan ~ February 25, 3-5pm
How do we take real care of ourselves in the face of upset and struggle? How do we cultivate healthy resilience? Resilience is the brain’s ability to handle stress in a positive way and to recover quickly. In this workshop, we will explore tools that neuroscience shows wire the brain for an ability to bounce back. Join us for the first in the Heal the Healer series.
Saturday, February 25, 2o17, 3-5pm (arrive at 2:45)
at the Quaker Meeting House at 1104 Forest St, Charlottesville
Please RSVP to sjmnia@gmail.com or on the Facebook event page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1629783820664092/) so we know how many people to expect. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a journal, a donation for use of the space, and a friend!

• Love Warrior: embody a movement ~ Friday, Mar 3, 6-730pm
a moving experience of activism in support of five local refugee families
Any Donations Welcome*
Buck Mountain Episcopal Church Parish Hall

Join Susan for the launch of a new routine about embodying activism called Love Warrior. This is a movement experience that allows us to experience the sensation of the change we want to see in the world. We can then translate that sensation directly into action.
“Knowledge is only a rumor until it is in the muscle.” – Papua New Guinea Proverb
In times of uncertainty, our first reaction can be to “figure this out.” It is a common approach to go straight to our minds to think our way out of a difficult situation. And nothing will shift, we won’t change a thing until we feel it in our bones, until we embody the change we want to see.

PLUS Authentic Kurdish treats made by one of our families will be for sale after class!

* Your generous donation is gratefully accepted. The families’ greatest need is laptop computers (for schoolwork, for jobs, for life), TVs, cell phones, and portable washing machines. They don’t have transportation, so it is difficult for them to get to laundromats with their kids and clothes, and the apartment complex laundry facilities are awful, unsafe, and difficult to haul stuff to. The women all have cracked hands from doing laundry in their bathtubs. Buck Mountain has purchased and installed one portable washer for one family and would like to do four or five more (at about $200/each). The biggest need, then, is any cash donations for these items or gift cards to Walmart or Target because these are places they can get to on public transit.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

*** PLAYLIST NOTE: My playlists can also be found on Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/ by following “susanmcculley” (no space) and look for Public Playlists. Sometimes music is not available on Spotify so I may replace with another version or skip songs . ***

Monday, Feb 20, 2017, 1045am ~ Knee-Ahh!

Qurna 7:09 Banco de Gaia
You Can’t Always Get What You Want 6:47 Rusted Root
Habibe 7:12 Big Blue Ball featuring Natacha Atlas, Hossam Ramzy, Neil Sparkes, The Hossam Ramzy Egyptian Ensemble (Adel Eskander, Wael Abu Bakr, Momtaz Talaat
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Ghosts in My Machine 3:33 Annie Lennox
Deeper (Into Places) (Silk Spinner Mix) 6:23 Afterlife
Shining Path 7:23 Dreadzone
Knee Deep (feat. Jimmy Buffett) 3:23 Zac Brown Band
Fade Into You 4:54 Mazzy Star
When It Falls 5:31 Zero 7

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017, 840am ~ Knee-Ahh!

Qurna 7:09 Banco de Gaia
You Can’t Always Get What You Want 6:47 Rusted Root
Love and Hope 4:24 Ozomatli
Drumming Up a Storm 6:01 Bob Holroyd
Ghosts in My Machine 3:33 Annie Lennox
Loves Me Like A Rock 3:30 Paul Simon
Never Coming Home 5:00 Sting
Shining Path 7:23 Dreadzone
Fade Into You 4:54 Mazzy Star
Horizon 3:12 John Munson

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017, 11am ~ Knee-Ahh!

Relax 5:56 Deep-Dive-Corp. Feat. Michele Adamson
The Hush 5:24 Rae & Christian
Lovers House 4:49 City Reverb
One World, One People 4:43 Xcultures
City of Light (Reverso 68 Remix) 5:53 City Reverb
Shakin’ It Up 6:15 Ganga Giri
Sandstorm 7:26 Darude
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Unpack Your Heart 3:16 Phillip Phillips
Ooh Child ((Remix)) 3:33 Nina Simone
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Þú Ert Jörðin 4:34 Ólafur Arnalds

Thursday, Feb 23, 2017, 840am ~ Knee-Ahh!

Relax 5:56 Deep-Dive-Corp. Feat. Michele Adamson
The Hush 5:24 Rae & Christian
Lovers House 4:49 City Reverb
One World, One People 4:43 Xcultures
City of Light (Reverso 68 Remix) 5:53 City Reverb
Shakin’ It Up 6:15 Ganga Giri
Sambatucada (Nari & Gaudino Sambadrhome Radio Edit) 3:35 Gaudino Da Costa
I Don’t Like It, I Love It (feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White) 3:44 Flo Rida
Ooh Child ((Remix)) 3:33 Nina Simone
Everything’ll Be Alright 4:07 Catherine MacLellan
Þú Ert Jörðin 4:34 Ólafur Arnalds

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

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(originally posted April 28, 2013)

Not long ago, my friend Dinah sent me this video. It was a mesmerizing 16 minutes. I could not tear myself away.

And the whole time, my knees would not stop shaking.

Spending 16 minutes with my knees rattling, made me realize how vulnerable I’m feeling these days – in all realms. So this week, I’m revisiting a piece about knees that was originally posted in April 2013. EnJOY.

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You can mess with God, but you can’t mess with your knees.” – genius facilitator and friend, Bev Wann

For the past week or so, my knees have been feeling tight and sore. I’d love to tell you that my in-depth knowledge of anatomy led me immediately to the source of the discomfort. But I had no idea why my knees weren’t feeling right. I’d also love to tell you that I was calm and at peace with the ache in my knees. While I wasn’t exactly panicky, I was sincerely not chill with it.

Knees are sensitive spots. At just the sight of someone who looks unstable or likely to fall, my empathetic husband’s knees tingle. Think about the way we talk about knees idiomatically:
– Weak in the knees
– Knocking knees
– Up to my knees or knee-deep
– Cut off at the knees
– Fall on the knees or bring to the knees
– On bended knee
– Knee-high to a grasshopper
All of these sayings reveal the vulnerability of knees.  Whether it’s love or fear, overwhelm or a heartfelt plea, when we talk about our knees, we are talking about helplessness.

The largest joint in the body, knees are a complex hinge or condylar joint which are essential for movement.  Knowing the anatomy of the joint can help in understanding the importance of alignment.  For example, when you stand up or squat down, do your knees fall in toward each other?  If so, you are straining your Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL).  If your knee juts out in front of your foot when you lunge forward, you are stressing the ligaments around your patella (knee cap) that connect the muscles from the thigh to the shin bone.

There are many good resources for learning about knee health (for example, click here for a good article about knees and yoga), but we can learn particular things from the practice of Nia (click here for an article from the Nia White Belt Manual about Nia and the Knees and another on Knee-Locking Syndrome).

Both in the studio and in life, I’ve discovered the following four keys to knee health and comfort:

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #1:  Always step silently and cleanly

This is the A-number one, most important focus when it comes to happy knees.  First, step softly (with cat-like tread!) and silently.  Stomping and walking heavily strains the feet, ankles, knees and hips and dulls awareness (see Knee-Ahh Tip #4).  And step cleanly, without dragging, shuffling, or twisting your feet on the floor.  Imagine the floor is slightly sticky so you have to lift and place your feet – every single time.  This is particularly important when turning.  The Body’s Way is to step rather than spin on the feet which protects not just the knee but the joints above and below.  Which leads to…

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #2: For happy knees, look to hips and ankles

Whenever you experience discomfort in the body, look above and below the place of pain.  One of the best ways to keep knees healthy is to keep the hips and ankles strong and mobile.  Most people are unable to execute a walking turn in Nia because their hips do not have the range of motion to allow the turn.  And commonly, people shuffle or drag their feet because of stiff or weak ankles.  Practicing any of the first eight movements of the 52 Moves of Nia will condition the ankle joints while Moves 19 through 29 are all particularly good for the hip joints.

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #3: Breathe & Relax

Given that they are particularly sensitive and vulnerable, one tendency is to hold tension in the knees.  This week, I’ve noticed that while sitting at my desk, watching baseball (Go Twins and Red Sox!), and even when I’m in Savasana, I’m often holding some level of tension in my knees!  One of the best things I can do in movement and in stillness is relax and breathe into my knees.

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #4: Listening & Awareness

The more I practice Nia Principle 5, Awareness, the more I learn about what is supporting and what is taxing my knees… or any part of me.  This week, I noticed that I am very precise with my foot placement when I’m in Nia class, but when I’m working in my kitchen, I tend to twist on my feet especially on the rug in front of my stove.  Use awareness and deep listening to find even the small changes that can make happier knees.

What makes your knees happy?  Share your body wisdom and Knee-Ahhh! experiences below!  May this week leave you knee-deep in knee health!

knees with handDo your knees bring you to your knees? Knees are big, complicated, sensitive, vulnerable joints.

Find good resources for knee health in this week’s post.

My Knee-Ahhh! Strategies:

1: Step silently & cleanly
Pick up your feet and place them down … softly … without shuffling or twisting.

2: Condition hips & ankles
Use Nia’s 52 Moves and other movement for strong, mobile joints above and below the knees.

3: Breathe & Relax
Sounds funny, but breathe into your knees and release chronically-held tension.

4: Listening & Awareness
Use Awareness to listen to sensation in your knees (and everywhere) rather than ignoring or over-riding.

Happy knees! Happy everything!

knees with faces“You can mess with God, but you can’t mess with your knees.”

– my friend, Bev

For the past week or so, my knees have been feeling tight and sore.  I’d love to tell you that my in-depth knowledge of anatomy led me immediately to the source of the discomfort.  But I had no idea why my knees weren’t feeling right.  I’d also love to tell you that I was calm and at peace with the ache in my knees.  While I wasn’t exactly panicky, I was sincerely not chill with it.

Knees are sensitive spots.  At just the sight of someone who looks unstable or likely to fall, my empathetic husband’s knees tingle.  Think about the way we talk about knees idiomatically:
– Weak in the knees
– Knocking knees
– Up to my knees or knee-deep
– Cut off at the knees
– Fall on the knees or bring to the knees
– On bended knee
– Knee-high to a grasshopper
All of these sayings reveal the vulnerability of knees.  Whether it’s love or fear, overwhelm or a heartfelt plea, when we talk about our knees, we are talking about helplessness.

Knee-AnatomyThe largest joint in the body, knees are a complex hinge or condylar joint which are essential for movement.  Knowing the anatomy of the joint can help in understanding the importance of alignment.  For example, when you stand up or squat down, do your knees fall in toward each other?  If so, you are straining your Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL).  If your knee juts out in front of your foot when you lunge forward, you are stressing the ligaments around your patella (knee cap) that connect the muscles from the thigh to the shin bone.

There are many good resources for learning about knee health (for example, click here for a good article about knees and yoga), but we can learn particular things from the practice of Nia (click here for an article from the Nia White Belt Manual about Nia and the Knees and another on Knee-Locking Syndrome).

Both in the studio and in life, I’ve discovered the following four keys to knee health and comfort:

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #1:  Always step silently and cleanly

This is the A-number one, most important focus when it comes to happy knees.  First, step softly (with cat-like tread!) and silently.  Stomping and walking heavily strains the feet, ankles, knees and hips and dulls awareness (see Knee-Ahh Tip #4).  And step cleanly, without dragging, shuffling, or twisting your feet on the floor.  Imagine the floor is slightly sticky so you have to lift and place your feet – every single time.  This is particularly important when turning.  The Body’s Way is to step rather than spin on the feet which protects not just the knee but the joints above and below.  Which leads to…

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #2: For happy knees, look to hips and ankles

Whenever you experience discomfort in the body, look above and below the place of pain.  One of the best ways to keep knees healthy is to keep the hips and ankles strong and mobile.  Most people are unable to execute a walking turn in Nia because their hips do not have the range of motion to allow the turn.  And commonly, people shuffle or drag their feet because of stiff or weak ankles.  Practicing any of the first eight movements of the 52 Moves of Nia will condition the ankle joints while Moves 19 through 29 are all particularly good for the hip joints.

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #3: Breathe & Relax

Given that they are particularly sensitive and vulnerable, one tendency is to hold tension in the knees.  This week, I’ve noticed that while sitting at my desk, watching baseball (Go Twins and Red Sox!), and even when I’m in Savasana, I’m often holding some level of tension in my knees!  One of the best things I can do in movement and in stillness is relax and breathe into my knees.

Knee-Ahhh! Tip #4: Listening & Awareness

The more I practice Nia Principle 5, Awareness, the more I learn about what is supporting and what is taxing my knees… or any part of me.  This week, I noticed that I am very precise with my foot placement when I’m in Nia class, but when I’m working in my kitchen, I tend to twist on my feet especially on the rug in front of my stove.  Use awareness and deep listening to find even the small changes that can make happier knees.

What makes your knees happy?  Share your body wisdom and Knee-Ahhh! experiences below!  May this week leave you knee-deep in knee health!

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