Wellness Within: Finding Tranquillity and Balance

Oct 20, 2011

“As the sun descends into the big blue sea, I relish the peace I've found. Today I was given permission to slow it down for a bit, learn more about me and my body, and express myself how I see fit. This has been a good day.” —Ryan Halvorson

Inner IDEA®, early October, La Jolla, California, the evening of the first full day: The sun was gently setting on an uncharacteristically blue Pacific. Just inland, the vibrant greens of the world-famous Torrey Pines golf course had developed an amber glow. For IDEA’s associate editor, Ryan Halvorson, it had been awhile since he’d felt this peaceful.

“As a first-time attendee [at this mind-body-spirit] conference, I readily admit that the dominant factor leading to my current state is the message I picked up from all the learning I experienced today,” said Halvorson. And that message? “Be aware of the subtleties and express yourself.”

In a session titled "Somatic Experiencing and Integrative Wellness Study," presenter Steve Hoskinson, MA, MAT, had asked attendees to "simply let your eyes go where they want to go." We have become so conditioned to sit up straight, to watch the teacher, to be obedient, that we lose sight of ourselves and our surroundings, he said. Pausing to take in our surroundings and develop awareness can relieve stress and increase our level of comfort.

Developing awareness was a theme that ran through many Inner IDEA sessions. In "40 Is Not the New 30," Sue Hitzmann showcased her MELT techniques, gently escorting participants through a series of tension releases and breathing techniques with the aid of foam rollers and soft small balls. While lying supine, Hitzmann would say things like, "Notice where your toes are pointing" or "Feel what part of your back is pressed against the floor." But she insisted participants do this without looking. "Don't look!" She would say. "Notice." Essentially, be aware of the nuances and understand who you are and what you need without seeing.

Hormones: A Question of Balance

If somatic awareness was one thread running through Inner IDEA, another was hormonal balance. In relation to this concept, presenters talked about weight loss, stress relief, energy levels and emotions—and standing room-only classes were evidence of a hot topic.

In "Hormones: A Critical Link to Health," presenter Mark Stone caught everyone's attention when he suggested that the often-demonized cholesterol plays a significant role in the development of progesterone—a hormone that helps handle stress and decrease inflammation. He also suggested that low cholesterol could be linked to the extensive fertility problems among women today. "We need the right kinds of cholesterol for optimal hormone function," he said, and suggested, "Those cholesterols are found in organic, grass-fed animal meats."

Though food is important in balancing hormones, our daily behaviors can create problems as well. Stone suggested removing that big 40-inch screen from the bedroom and logging out of Facebook by 7:00 or 8:00 at night. Too much visual stimulation disrupts the release of melatonin, diminishing the regenerative benefits of sleep. The body needs time to shut down naturally.

Ray Gin, DC, also tackled the topic of hormones and how our outlook affects them. He posited that hormones and emotions are directly linked. "Hormonal symptoms create emotional changes," he said. "And emotional symptoms create hormonal changes." Negative attitudes, thoughts and beliefs can engender a negative hormonal response that leads to inflammation, said Gin. "Change your beliefs—change your life."

Time to Hang Up Your Hurries

“Colleen Saidman Yee shared a sweet word of wisdom that ties into self-care. She reminded us to think about where we are in space and how we relate to gravity as we tackle our days. ‘You hold on to more than you realize, and you don't even need to. Learn how to relax your body as you move through your life.’” —Joy Keller

As the conference progressed, attendees everywhere felt themselves slowing down. And the few who were still rushing eventually relented and realized it was okay: it was time to hang up their hurries and stay in the present. For senior editor Joy Keller the realization was a relief: at last she could take her time. “Every session I went to challenged me mentally, physically and dare I say spiritually,” said Keller. “I absorbed every last drop of information I could and found I wanted more.”

One thing that especially struck her was how difficult it can be for IDEA members—service-oriented people intent on helping others—to extend the same patience and care to themselves as they aspire to provide for their clients. “You have to take care of yourself if you want to have enough reserves to take care of others,” noted Keller.

Fortunately, restorative classes on myofascial release, alignment, nutrition and self-care were widely available and hugely popular. And sessions like Leann Carey's "Developing the Teacher's Eye" helped attendees recognize and correct imbalances in their own posture as well as in others’.

A Rich and Diverse Program

The 2011 Inner IDEA program was chock-full of sessions for Pilates and yoga instructors, wellness professionals, lifestyle coaches, personal trainers and group fitness instructors, holistic health professionals, students and enthusiasts. Guest presenter Rodney Yee taught three yoga sessions, while Pilates Elder Lolita San Miguel led a master class for Pilates specialists. Presenters included Lawrence Biscontini, Jill Miller, Marie Jose-Blom, Michael King and Rael Isacowitz. Sessions focused not only on Pilates and yoga but also on meditation, integrative fitness, Gyrotonic®, Nia®, nutrition, pool workouts and a nature walk. And all this against the beautiful backdrop of the Californian coast.

To find out more about the 2011 Inner IDEA Conference, visit www.ideafit.com/conference/inner-idea-conference-2011.

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