Time to Sound the Conch Shell!

The sounding of the conch seashell is a deep part of Hawaiian culture dating back to ancient times. To blow the Conch or the Pū, pronounced ‘poa’, is a call to the divine invoking the sacred and to drive evil spirits away. It was used to communicate from a distance, such as with canoes moving towards land to signify approach and to gain approval. It is used to announce the beginning of a sacred ceremony in many present day Hawaiian traditions. Such as a land blessing or the Pū is blown at Hawaiian weddings to bring good thoughts, mana (power and energy) and aloha (love) to all who hear and resonate with its beautiful sound. Other cultures also sound the conch shell. In India the sound of the conch announces a battle. To Buddhists the conch shell call is meant to awaken one from ignorance and is a sign of victory over suffering.

The most common ceremony still done in current times is at sunset. Along the streets of Waikiki the tiki torches are ceremoniously lit and the Pū is blown to say goodbye to the day and mahalo (thank you and bless you). I’ve heard the sound of the conch, while getting ready to sail on Friday nights, from the Ilikai (shown below), which has kept this sunset ceremony for years. It is often today thought of as a cheesy tourists thing, but as I hear the haunting sound travel over the ocean, it reminds me of all that has been before and grounds me in the moment. Not only is the sounding of the conch part of Hawaiian tradition, it requires tremendous core power and respiratory capacity as demonstrated by the wedding Pū blower above. Hence, blowing it daily helps keep the lungs healthy. I think it a quite sad state of affairs that the Conch shell is no longer blown nor the torches lit, until the tourists return. I think it high time to blow that seashell!

The Benefits of Pilates Equipment Workouts From The Ground Up.

Grounding yourself is often spoken about, but how is it actually done? Like a tree that reaches it’s roots into the ground allowing it to sway with the wind. Like a bird that can wrap it’s claws around a branch, we must ground ourselves yet be able to give, to bend, to move and be flexible. Resonating with the sound of the Conch is easy to feel but harder to explain. How is it that our bodies resonate to certain sounds or musical notes and feel grounded at the same time.

Consider how a house’s foundation anchors it to the land it is built upon. Our feet are the foundation of the body in which we live. Our foundation starts from the ground. A tiny, seemingly insignificant, misalignment in the foundation can become significant on upper floors. When the basement is out of level by a 1/4 inch, the error can compound, make the roof out of level by inches and put stress and strain on the rest of the structure. Small mis-alignments in any of the joints of the foot can can cause stress and strain on the rest of the body.

The feet are the foundation of our structure. Our feet take us through life to where we want to go. May that be walking across the room or a walk to the beach. May that be pushing down the gas pedal, the pedals of a bicycle or your toe into the pavement to push that skateboard across town. All is good moving to where we want to, the way we want to, until we have a foot, ankle, knee or hip issue that hinders our mobility. Small changes in the toes, a heel spur, shin splints, or changes in the arches of the foot all can make big changes in the joints above.

Not only can foot issues affect our gait or alter our natural walking pattern, but they can affect our organs and other structures of the body. It is accepted in alternative medicine that there are meridian lines or energy pathways that flow throughout the body and terminate in the palms of the feet, hands and earlobes. “Reflexology is gentle manipulation or pressing on certain parts of the foot to produce an effect elsewhere in the body.” Wikipedia.

Reflexologists believe that the body is mapped on the palm of the feet in reflex points. These points that can be gently manipulated to affect almost every part of the body including the spine and joints, organs, the brain, diaphragm, the eyes and much more. “Refleoxology is a system of applying pressure, usually to the feet, which practitioners believe stimulates energy and releases ‘blockages’ in specific areas that cause pain or illness.” Wikipedia

The following are some conditions which can benefit from foot reflexology therapy:
blood circulation: varicose veins, high blood pressure;
digestive system: stomach upsets, stomach bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, diarrhea, ulcers;
nervous problems: sleep disorder, depression, lack of concentration or energy, memory loss;
other problems: weight gain, skin problems, migraine, pregnancy disorder, ageing issues.

Thus, why walking, running, bicycling or simply standing up on your feet can have such beneficial effects, helping you feel more energized and promote healing. Why is it that so many people love shoes? We all want happy feet. Comfortable shoes make us feel better and promote better overall health.

However, if we do suffer a foot injury such as a sore toe, a strained ankle, a fallen arch or any other foot issue from an injury or illness, it can affect how we walk. When we walk differently to accommodate a foot issue, it can ultimately affect the rest of the kinetic chain including our knee, hip, low back and even our neck. Not only will the joints above our foundation be affected, but also the ability of some organs to function properly.  Just activating or massaging the bottom of the foot, even a walk in the sand can produce a huge wellness and healing response on the body. 

Obviously, those with foot issues may not be able to run, hike, or walk and stimulate the palms of the feet naturally. However, Pilates equipment workouts enable us to work on our feet while not stressing the body with any high impact activity. If you have an issue that limits your mobility I invite you to the reformer workout. The video below is shot in the Honolulu home studio, showing basic footwork, arm and leg exercise sequences on the reformer, with a few special effects.

Muscle, bone, neural, joint and tendon injuries, chronic tendon injuries, recovery from surgery, effects of aging – all can be addressed with mindful Pilates training on the Reformer, Stability Chair, Cadillac, Fitness Circle and Flex Band. All these pieces of equipment provide eccentric strengthening that is clinically proven to reduce tendon and joint pain and repair muscle.

“. . .mindful Pilates training on the Reformer, Stability Chair, Cadillac, Fitness Circle and Flex Band provides eccentric strengthening that is clinically proven to reduce tendon and joint pain and repair muscle. Eccentric strengthening provides the type of mechanical stimulus to promote DNA and collagen production, without invoking inflammatory pathways.”

Stott Pilates Injuries & special populations manual

Now a Pilates reformer workout may not replace a one-to-one session with a Physical Therapist or other body worker that provides individualized therapeutic exercises, tailored to your body’s measured impairments. This specific treatment is usually joint specific and prescribed because you have demonstrated reduced range of motion and strength at that joint. That’s great, but what about relieving the underlying reason why you can’t move that joint – like pain. Good PTs and body workers will also include a method of pain treatment and myofascial release.

Now when the pain at that joint has improved along with strength and range of motion, it is time to put the joint back to work with the rest of the joints of the body. Now the best way to do this, in many therapists and Pilates instructor’s opinion, is with a full body, head to toe, workout that asks all of your muscles to work together to achieve the exercise. So the injured joint now re-learns to work as a functioning part of the whole. Plus, the whole body exercises can be modified with lighter spring selection to accommodate any level of fitness,all without undue stress on the joints.

Not only can joint issues benefit from reformer workouts, but also many types of illness. Many illnesses, can be cured or alleviated with a regular, basic workout on the reformer.  Illnesses that respond well with reformer workouts are those that sap your strength. The reformer provides a means to easily perform weight bearing, bone and muscle strengthening exercise, while lying on your back or front, while sitting or kneeling or while standing in place. Additionally, the focus on full mobility of the spine, exercises that pump lymph and deep breathing exercises facilitates cleansing and detoxing the body and neural activation.

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, disabilities, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, obesity, aging, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, scoliosis, systemic infections and cancer are examples of the conditions that can respond well to mindful Pilates training on the Reformer, Stability Chair, Cadillac, Fitness Circle and Flex Band.

Stott Pilates Injuries and Special Populations manual

6-Week Beach Pilates Challenge:

On the Grand Lanai at the International Market Place. Take two classes per week for 6 weeks, complete a wellness survey before your first class and after your twelfth class and receive 15% off each class. What could be more divine than feeling powerful, connected, grounded and calm in your body. Come sound that Pū !

Happy feet stores recommended by Pilates Equipment Shop:

Uyeda Shoe Store
931 University Ave #105, Honolulu, HI

2330 Kalakaua Ave #210, Honolulu, HI

Rehabilitation Facilities with Pilates Based Rehab programs:

Rehab Hospital
of the Pacific
226 North Kuakini Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Ph:  (808) 531-3511

Published by PilateOn

Pilates instruction: . therapeutic to athletic Pilates & yoga conditioning . improve spinal mobility, alignment & muscle balancing . for every body, athletes, trades persons, seniors, youth and more . . .

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