Complete the Cycle: Coming Full Circle

Yesterday temperatures dropped and I noticed that my tires needed air. Not a big deal, right? Except that, in my previous 20 years of driving, there had always been a father, boyfriend, or husband eagerly volunteering to do it for me. So it’s no surprise that I had no idea how to start! Luckily, thanks to YouTube and a bemused gas station attendant, I soon solved the mystery of the gauge and was on my way, my tires, and my ego, ever so slightly inflated.

Similarly, there are whole muscle groups lying dormant in our bodies, not because they are lazy, unhealthy, or unimportant, but simply because another muscle group took over the job they were designed to do, so they never learned how.

One of these under-utilized groups is the oddly-named serratus anterior, a muscle group that wraps around the sides of the ribcage and attaches to the the inner edges of the shoulder blades.

When flexed, the muscles of the serratus anterior appear to lengthen the arms by wrapping the shoulder blades forward toward the chest, creating a three-dimensional movement reminiscent of the flapping of wings.

The mobility pattern of a well-functioning serratus anterior allows dancers
to move their arms above shoulder height while maintaining a long neck, open chest, and elegant lifted posture. This same protracting and retracting action is what makes or breaks a boxer’s left hook.

In my case, because of long-held postural imbalances, the upper trapezius muscles in the back of my neck were working overtime, doing their job and that of the serratus. No wonder I suffered from forward head carriage and neck pain! An underactive serratus anterior can also lead to stagnation of the throat chakra, rotator cuff injuries, and numbness down the arm.

Searching for the subtle feeling of flexion in the serratus requires persistence and mental focus. I found it with the guidance of my trainer, Nikki, during a private session this month. Although I have only recently begun to strengthen this “sleeping beauty” of a muscle group, I notice that I am already moving more gracefully and breathing deeper, thanks to my newfound shoulder stability. The serratus anterior serves as a reminder to be patient with the parts of ourselves that may be slower to respond than others. Like me, you may find the strength and support you seek, hidden just below the surface

– Jamie Skinner


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Align with Abundance

On the other side of the rainbow, something golden is waiting for you. What is keeping you from receiving and appreciating what is good in yourself, your body, your loved ones, your world? Are you waiting for an engraved invitation? Do you work and work and work on different projects, never quite allowing yourself to finish any of them? Or do you finish but refuse to let the rewards come to you, effectively hiding your light under a barrel because it never quite measures up to the ideal in your head? What would it feel like to be present with your goals and dreams for the future while giving yourself permission to live every moment to the fullest, right now?

If you are anything like me, holding the tension between what could be and what is can feel like walking a tightrope. Several times in my life, I tried to lose weight and gave up, because starting the process of change meant getting up close and personal with the imperfection of the present moment. It meant earnestly calling forth my “dream” body, while lovingly accepting my real body at it’s current size and shape. It meant putting on stretchy pants and dancing in that body, in front of the mirror, in front of the world. In exercise clothes, there is no room for residual self image. I became strong the moment I chose to love myself at my weakest. Everything else was progress.

Transformation is what blossomed from that alchemy of self-love, gentle discipline, and fruitful reimagining. So keep one eye on the sky and one on the ground, lovely dreamers, lest you trip over the pot of gold when you do, in fact, reach the end of your rainbow!
– Jamie Skinner

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Revel in the Rise: The Magic of Ease

I moved to California nine years ago, around the time a severe, record-breaking drought began. Recently I went hiking with friends in one of our favorite parks. This was a hike I’ve been on many times over the years, but this time the landscape was unrecognizable! After weeks of rain, the dull brown hillside was now as lush and green as the Emerald Isle, and the dry riverbed I remembered had been transformed into watery rapids you could practically ride a raft on.

Now, of course, theoretically I knew that the purpose of a riverbed is to channel water, but still I was shocked to find it serving its intended purpose after all this time. How could such a a radical change have happened overnight? The much-needed water rushing toward me was what everyone I knew, including myself, had wished for, but the water obscured the reliably bone-dry boulders I knew so well. Disoriented but curious, we decided to take a steep path in a different direction. We slipped and fell a few times along the way. We got muddy, laughed it off, and eventually discovered our new favorite picnic spot, one with a view for miles around.

Deep down, aren’t we all creatures of comfort? Has “good enough for now” ever become your permanant address? Eventually, suboptimal movement patterns have to be let go of for new ones to emerge, and these transitional moments are when we need strong internal and external support systems to keep us steady. After a lifetime of walking with my feet turned out, doing a lunging motion the “right” way, with my hips and knees aligned, felt all wrong. My nervous system was saying no to the movement, but after working with my trainer Nikki for over a year, I trusted her enough to go out on a limb. When I found center, it took guts and breath to stay there, feeling as if I could fall over at any moment. Just when I was about to give up, my leg started to shake, as my muscles and fascia released years of patterning in just a few seconds. I left the studio feeling supported, softer and stronger, ever grateful and amazed by what this body I love can do.

– Jamie Skinner

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