How did a Physiotherapist come to teach therapeutic exercise classes that draw more from Qigong and Tai Chi than from Pilates or Yoga, the disciplines that Physiotherapists more commonly base their classes on? Deep and thorough trial and error is the answer. I wanted to keep doing fun physical activities and movements that I enjoyed in the past without the pain that developed later and was willing to go to the effort of trialling several exercise disciplines thoroughly and deeply before deciding on which yielded the best results. The ensuing paragraphs are a personal narrative broadly outlining the development of what led to the classes I teach called “Resilient Health Body Technologies” starting from childhood.
From a young age I loved fun physical activities. I skated and played Ice Hockey every winter’s day outdoors and played Soccer in the summertime as a child growing up in the United States. Upon arriving in Australia, I played Aussie Rules football then Athletics, Touch Football, Rugby League, and Rugby Union. I learned how to train for these activities through coaching and extensive reading. My training included resistance exercises, which I enjoyed. I also enjoyed dancing.
After high school I did a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Human Physiology at Griffith University that included Exercise Physiology undertaken by cross-institutional enrolment at University of Queensland. This was followed by Ph.D. at RMIT University on the effects of Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng on the immune system and hormonal stress response in endurance athletes1.
While studying I took up Yoga classes, up to three classes per week, as well as home practice. I loved Yoga and benefited from it in ways other than just physical strength and flexibility. I could concentrate better and felt more confident in my sporting-, academic-, social-, and emotional-life.
Sadly, after eighteen months of Yoga I developed back pain and hip pain that I had to admit to myself were caused by Yoga. An internet search found that with regard to hip pain from Yoga, I wasn’t the only one2,3. The pain adversely affected the other activities I enjoyed including relatively easy ones such as bush walking. I didn’t stop Yoga entirely. Instead, I stopped doing the poses that hurt, tried other disciplines including Pilates, and searched for insight from teachers and from extensive reading. As part of this process, I changed my career by undertaking a Physiotherapy degree. I studied and wrote on the academic foundations of Clinical Pilates and taught the discipline in my role as a physiotherapist for eight years. Although Pilates helped, I still had back and hip pain.
Eventually I tried Qigong and Tai chi. I trained extensively with experienced Chinese teachers. What I learned from them were techniques that allowed me to continue doing fun physical activities and movements in a way that didn’t cause pain – in a way that promoted circulation through critical structures4 rather than blocking it with unnecessary muscle tension. These techniques constitute the Resilient Health Body Technologies I teach. See the this page on this site to learn more. Please contact me if you have questions and please text me on 0423103202 if you want to book your spot in a class.
Kind Regards and Namaste,
- Gaffney, B. T., Hügel, H. M., & Rich, P. A. (2001). The effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus and Panax ginseng on steroidal hormone indices of stress and lymphocyte subset numbers in endurance athletes. Life sciences, 70(4), 431–442. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0024-3205(01)01394-7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11798012/
- Blanchard, S. (4 Nov 2019) Yoga teachers are needing hip replacements in their forties because they force their joints into unnatural positions, physiotherapist warns. Daily Mail Australia. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7646849/Yoga-teachers-needing-hip-replacements-FORTIES-physio-warns.html
- Iwanaga, J., Simonds, E., Patel, M., Oskouian, R. J., & Tubbs, R. S. (2018). Anatomic Study of Superior Cluneal Nerves: Application to Low Back Pain and Surgical Approaches to Lumbar Vertebrae. World neurosurgery, 116, e766–e768. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2018.05.087