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corewalking for pain relief | interview with jonathan fitzgordon

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You might be thinking why are we talking about walking for pain relief. Isn’t this a yoga podcast?  Well, yes it is thank you and Jonathan is a yoga teacher who’s training in yoga, and personal experiences with pain and injury, inspired the manifestation of CoreWalking for Pain Relief.  It’s quite a story and I’m positive many of you will be able to relate to dealing with chronic pain as a result of habitual structural imbalances in the body, from injury or otherwise, that you may not be aware of or know how to correct.   I was given a Corewalking Session as part of my research for our interview and it was extremely enlightening.  As a yoga teacher I thought I had really great posture and a strong core, but for some reason I still have some mild chronic pain in my feet and lower back.  He pointed out several imbalances in my stance and gate, and assigned some basic core strengthening exercises to counter balance my imbalances and bring my physical structure back into balance.  He also showed my how to walk properly in a way that my bones are aligned for allowing my nerves to flow properly.  It all felt really weird to me that I had to retrain myself how to walk as a 48 year old woman.  I could really use a refresher and Jonathan did mention it takes several session for many of his clients to begin to break patterns that are not serving them.  Habits can be very hard to break and I’m still working on it every time I go for a walk.

In our interview we discuss his story and what inspired him to manifest this program,  details about the program, and how you can access it.  We also followed up our discussion on what I felt after my session.  We go a little deeper and discuss the Psoas muscles, the importance of core strength,  the concepts of proprioception and kinesthetic awareness, and how to tune into the awareness of our own habitual patterns, so we may age gracefully.

Show notes:

  • Intro & Outro music created by Zen Jenn with Apple Loops and Dreamstep by Hibernation

  • Jonathan has an amazing website!  Go to Corewalking.com to check out resources including online yoga classes, workshops, blog posts, and information about how to access Jonathan for Corewalking for Pain Relief.

  • Jonathan started yoga at the very young age of 6 when his mother enrolled him in the yoga and tumbling class.  That lasted for a year.  He came back to yoga in his 30’s in 1995 at Jivamukti Yoga in NYC.  He dove into a full daily practice immediately in the Ashtanga tradition.

  • Jonathan is a student of yoga first and always.  Over time and after an injury because of hyper-flexibility in his knee he had to have surgery that took him off of his feet for 6 weeks.  From there he had multiple injuries and surgeries over the course of a year and a half.  It was a yoga teacher who pointed out that he needed to change his physical patterns to prevent further injury.

  • He decided to teach because he needed to learn more about anatomy and alignment to help build strength and mobility in our joints.  He studied and did his YTT with Cindy Lee in NYC.  It was a process of evolving and learning as a yoga teacher until he discovered John Friend and Anusara Yoga.  John Friend became his primary teacher in yoga therapeutics, alignment and anatomy, and the spiritual practices of yoga.

  • He ended up opening The Yoga Center of Brooklyn where he began teaching basics classes.  He had to evolve his teachings over time as he realized most of his students have very bad movement patterns.

  • He used to think people come to yoga practice to change.  He began to realize that in fact they really came to reinforce their patterns and not to change.  He found that to be a profound realization and that’s when he began to develop his program on teaching people to walk.

  • Corewalking for Pain Relief is simply a method of teaching us how to walk correctly.  “I walk therefore I walk correctly” is not a true statement.  We all learn to walk by imitating those around us and especially those we bond to more.  Those that influence us the most may have poor habits due to injury or pain in their body.

  • Some people can live with poor physical postural habits and never have pain, and some people can live without any muscle tone without any pain (my mother is a perfect example of this), but most people cannot get away without having pain and injury.

  • Corewalking essentially is about learning to walk correctly, but more specifically learning what muscles you need to walk correctly.  Jonathan calls the inner thighs, pelvic floor and abdominals the holy trinity of muscle groups for great walking.  We need balance and tone in those muscles.

  • A Corewalking session was originally  designed to be an 8 session program but he allows for much flexibility depending on individual needs.  The first session always begins with standing and getting clients to notice where certain body parts are in space in relation to their posture.  Jonathan focuses in on the pelvis and shoulders.

  • The most common misalignments are shoulders are behind the plume line, the pelvis is tucked under and inner thighs forward.  We are all really tight in the back body.  He considers himself a teacher but really he is a guide.  He states that you are not going to age gracefully if you are not the master of your own destiny.  He then analyses walking and gate.

  • After analyzing 100’s of clients he finds almost everyone has the same misalignments.

  • We begin discussing my session and my misalignments.  Jonathan notes that everyone has a different path to realizing these habitual changes.  He attempts to allow for joking around to lighten the mood and have fun.  We can’t take ourselves so seriously and get angry at ourselves when changing habits become difficult.

  • We discuss the differences between hyper-mobile joints & tight muscles, and flexible muscles & strong and stable joints, and how that can be different for everyone and also very confusing when understanding how our own body responds in both practice and moving about our daily life.

  • Working with Jonathan helped me come back to understanding kinesthetic awareness and proprioception.  Proprioception is awareness of the inner mechanism for where we are in space.  Kinesthetic awareness is the outer mechanism.  Jonathan tells a story about himself riding a bike around NYC compared to a bike messenger and how they each have completely different awareness of space and trust.  It serves us really well to tune into kinesthetic sense and in the end will help us age well.

  • Jenny Otto of Body Balance Yoga comes up again.  She was my 500 hour yoga therapeutics teacher and Jonathan teaches in a very similar way.

  • We touch upon the idea of learning to age gracefully through yoga, exercise, and learning to become aware of our body in space and it’s imbalances.  He also stresses the fact it takes a practice of awareness to learn what our imbalances are first, before we can begin to make changes for the better.

  • Jonathan explains how changing our gate can eliminate pain.  We have to first understand where the pain is coming from whether it’s physical or emotional trauma, or poor posture pain from structural imbalances.  We have to give our nervous system the best chance by aligning our body properly.  We need to create an environment for our nerves to flow properly by aligning the bones.

  • He teaches people to get out of their patterns and habits.  He uses Bridge pose as an example and how we are all mostly over tightening our glutes and then we take that into our other poses.  Yoga teachers will often reinforce someone going way too deep in Bridge because it might look better, even when it’s not good for them.

  • Find Jonathan at Corewalking.com.  There are several ways he can be accessed but it’s mainly through his membership program which consists of online video, books, and online yoga classes.  He teaches The Psoas Release Party, which teaches both anatomy and exercises to release the psoas.  He has a blog and lots of other resources on his website.

  • His clients are generally people who are in so much pain they are desperate.  He also has yoga teachers and athletes who want to improve performance.  This work is great for people recovering from surgery, especially hip and knee replacements.

  • Jonathan’s final thoughts are all about aging gracefully by eating well, sleeping well, and moving the body correctly.

Thank you for tuning in and listening to the podcast!

Blessings, Peace & Oms,

~Zen Jenn