Whole Living Daily

The Body Whisperer: Yoga On and Off the Mat

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A couple months ago, a friend introduced me to an inspiring woman named Erin Burch. Erin is an experienced physical therapist who developed a unique and comprehensive form of bodywork and transformational postural re-alignment called the Vertical (R)Evolution. After doing an hour-long and in-depth postural assessment and realignment with her, it was no wonder why clients granted her the title “The Body Whisperer.”

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1 "Body Whisperer" Erin Burch realigning my tree pose with the help of her custom made belts.

2 An example of my bridge pose without straps. Look at how my front ribs poke out.

3 My bridge pose where the containing straps. It not only looks so different, it felt so much better!

4 Erin assessing my tadasana (I maintained my feet at inner hip width)

5 Here I am securing strap number 1.

6 And number 2.

7 Erin helping me put on strap number 3. Wearing this last one is an incredible release for the neck and shoulders.

8 Half moon to the right with the help of straps. They really helped me stay contained to the midline and easeful in my neck, shoulders, and arm pit chest.

9 Half moon to the left without the straps. Note the slight collapse in the left side of my waist. I also had a tougher time connecting to the midline without getting my shoulders involved.

In addition to having an exceptional understanding of the body, Erin possesses an incredible and intuitive ability to understand one’s alignment with her eyes, clairsentience, and hands.  Her method was developed after needing to confront adversity in her own body. As Erin stated, “I went from having a body that worked and felt good to a body that didn’t as a result of two surgeries and multiple car accidents. This was my quantum leap. Through an in-depth process of self-observation and self-inquiry, and using my body as a laboratory, I’ve found my way back to a body that feels not only good, but feels better all of the time. I have found a way into the body. Most approaches are based on ‘application’ and are fairly non-specific, at best.  I’ve found specificity is invaluable. My approach is based on the ability to find out from your body what it needs.  It’s more of a ‘conversation’ than an ‘application.’”

My initial hour with Erin was actually quite intense.  She examined how I stand, quickly and lovingly identifying my tendencies and asymmetries.  Then, with incredible patience, wonderful instruction, and great metaphor, she helped me realign my stance, part by part.  She constantly reminded me to connect with my mind’s eye and really think from the inside out.

So, what was intense about this?

Erin helped me find something so powerful – my most ideal possible posture.  A place where everything feels balanced, buoyant, and fluid at the same time.  Despite the fact that I’m a relatively body aware individual, I have developed ingrained habits over the years.  For as long as I can remember, for example, I’ve sunk back into the taxed ligaments of my hyper extending knees.  An old broken ankle caused my left side to be weaker than my right.   Like many asymmetries in people’s body, mine are not obvious to the common eye. In the body, however, a millimeter of misalignment can be time bomb waiting to happen, leading to potentially painful compensation.

The body can also be a storehouse of emotion.   We not only develop postural patterns from physical conditions, but also emotional reasons.  While I won’t go into further detail, Erin’s gradual work led me to confront places of holding.  They even housed vulnerability and painful memories.  In the weeks since our session, I’ve been far more conscious about how I stand by applying just some of the adjustments she made for me.  Like changing all habits, effort and commitment is required.  Though I have a ways to go and more work with Erin at hand, I already feel more buoyant.  What she gave me in that hour was a powerful gift.

Erin also showed me an awesome postural improvement system she devised with 3 2-inch wide straps.  These belts, which she makes for $28 per set, can be used on and off the mat.  We got together in Manhattan’s Riverside Park a sunny and humid summer day to demonstrate how these straps can help connect you with what Erin refers to as “the Core Container.”  When we find our Core Container, we find our ideal posture. The photos I’ve included here show just how much the straps can retrain the body.

Here’s how the 3 straps are used:

1. The first strap should be placed at the widest part of the pelvis, and cinched very tightly, yielding a feeling of support at the pelvic bowl.

2. The second strap goes at the base of the ribcage and should yield a feeling of support at the ribs.  It should also feel very snug.  At first, it might seem difficult to breathe freely with these new restrictions. I promise that in time, however, the body’s wisdom kicks in and deep, and even healthier breath will be come.

3. The third strap is like a posture enhancing jacket.  Its placement can be a bit tricky, so follow each part of these instructions carefully:

-       Fold strap in half (this strap is considerably longer that the other two) and place halfway point at the center point of the back (where a bra strap would be).

-       Bring the ends of the strap under the arms and around to the front, and then draped them over the shoulders.

-       Cross the straps in the back like an “X,” so that the one that was from the front of the right shoulder is now at the back of the left shoulder.

-       Once again, bring the ends of the strap under the arms and buckle them in front, under the breast line. The strap should be snug, giving a feeling of support and uplift in the shoulders, ease in the neck and connection to the ribs.

Essentially, the straps provide you with a sensation of what the Core Container would be doing if it were activated. Erin utilizes the image of a cake fresh out of the oven.  The first thing you need to do is “ring” around the pan with a knife, in order to separate the cake from the pan. By using the belts in this manner, we train the muscles of your core Container to “pull away” from the straps just like the cake from the pan and, while doing so, to not sink into them.  This engages the deep muscles that are actually designed to do the holding aspect of the body, and not the usual suspects of the neck or back or what-have-you.

Obviously, the use of the straps is clarified with the input of a trained professional to illuminate the specifics.  Still, if used as described above, the straps will go a long way towards supporting the development of the Core Container.

You can find an awesome set of three straps on Erin’s site: www.limitlessbody.com

If you tuned into my new radio show, Life Coaching with Sophie, today on SiriusXM 110, you might have heard Erin talk about her amazing work, too!

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