Caprice Boisvert: Movement Re-education

Caprice Boisvert: Movement Re-education Move well, feel better. Clair Avenue)

Lessons available at:

InHabit Pilates at 677 Dupont Street, 2nd Floor (at Christie)
Annex RMT Clinic at 1415 Bathurst Street, Suite 303 (at St.

A colleague/friend of mine gave me a shout-out yesterday. It was very unexpected and really made my day! My knowledge of...
03/05/2024

A colleague/friend of mine gave me a shout-out yesterday. It was very unexpected and really made my day! My knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics combined with the Alexander Technique allows me to teach exercise in a unique way. Reach out if you are interested in exploring how you lunge, press, lift, and curl! Thanks again, Stefanie!

I just came across this title in an email from the University of Toronto: “Look Again: The Power of Noticing What was Al...
03/02/2024

I just came across this title in an email from the University of Toronto: “Look Again: The Power of Noticing What was Always There.”

I have not yet read this book, but the description of it reminds me of Alexander Technique. Why? Because Alexander Technique is about changing how we *think*. Sure, lots of people discover AT because they have neck pain, back pain, hip pain. But ultimately, AT is about changing the way we think about things, whether those things are movements or objects or relationships.

I’m going to check this book out. Maybe you might want to as well. And maybe you might want to try an Alexander lesson and find out what the heck I am talking about. 🙂

Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There

I should probably have posted about this sooner, but better late than never. NEXT WEEKEND, I am super chuffed that I wil...
02/03/2024

I should probably have posted about this sooner, but better late than never.

NEXT WEEKEND, I am super chuffed that I will be the Visiting Teacher at Peter Nobes’ South Bank Alexander Centre in London UK, Friday 9 February to Sunday 11 February.

If you or someone you know is in London and would like to come for an intro to the Alexander Technique, you are welcome to come to the “Open House” portion of the weekend (Saturday 10 February 10:30am to 1pm). Peter says your first visit is free. After that, it will cost a little £.

I wanted to attach some cool photos of me doing a bit of “hands on”, but it turns out I don’t have many - just a few from workshops I attended over a decade ago. Perhaps someone will take photos of me and a few students on this trip! 😎

If your spine feels old, you should explore Pilates and the Alexander Technique. Feel years younger! 😎Artist: Sarah Ande...
10/24/2023

If your spine feels old, you should explore Pilates and the Alexander Technique. Feel years younger! 😎

Artist: Sarah Andersen

I came across this article on one of the Alexander Technique fb groups I follow. Sometimes I have a very strong response...
08/06/2023

I came across this article on one of the Alexander Technique fb groups I follow. Sometimes I have a very strong response to articles about posture. They make me feel as if I should blast my thoughts out into the universe. This piece has some good points, but I do want to add some margin notes.

Posture has been a hot button topic for donkey’s years. I was not immune to the words uttered within my own family, especially since i also heard them from my friends’ family members. “Stand up straight!” and “Don’t round your shoulders!” are firmly rooted in my childhood memories. I remember thinking my posture was just fine until I started my pilates teacher training and took Alexander Technique lessons for the first time.

When people come to see me, wanting to address their posture, or back pain, or hip pain, or shoulder pain, one of the most common things I see is people messing with the natural curves of their spine. As the article states:

“But the precise S-curve of your spine is individual to you. It’s in your genes,” says O’Sullivan. “It’s like our signature. It’s just how we are. This idea of homogenising us, I think it’s more social.”

This is pretty much how it goes. The spine is not straight and, as I learned rather quickly after meeting a woman who had Harrington rods in her spine that had removed ALL curvatures (including the ones present in a healthy spine), those curves are what allow us to stand up and balance our head over our feet, allow us to sit and balance our head over our sitting bones. The woman with the Harrington rods had no lumbar curve, which meant she couldn’t stand up straight at all: her version of “standing up straight” would always be about 25 or 30 degrees forward, off the line of gravity.

The first step to a healthy spine is to gently restore the natural curves. However, this brings up the next red flag item in the article:

“There is some evidence people with chronic back pain have weak back muscles. When you image them, you can see the muscle has become withered and infiltrated by strands of white fat. It’s not clear yet why this is. But it doesn’t seem crucial to back pain, because when doctors devised special training programs to strengthen those muscles they found they didn’t help anyone’s back pain.”

The “withered” muscles to which the author is referring, that are “infiltrated by strands of white fat”, are likely the deepest layer of our back muscles. They are withered because they are completely ATROPHIED: they completely forgot they had a job description (not unlike what happens to your muscles when you break your leg and everything is trapped inside a cast for 6 weeks).

The back of our body has three layers of muscle. The deepest layer is the most intrinsic, and these are what we refer to as the “postural muscles”. Because they are so deep, we have a very poor sense of them (we can’t see them in the mirror, for example, and flex them and see them working), and we end up using the muscles we CAN see, the muscles we CAN access. This invariably leads us to use our superficial muscles to support ourselves, and the real job of those superficial muscles is MOVEMENT, not “let’s hold ourselves up”.

Apologies for being repetitive, but the author of this piece states that these atrophied muscles DON’T “seem crucial to back pain, because when doctors devised special training programs to strengthen those muscles they found they didn’t help anyone’s back pain.” They are missing one crucial piece: those special training programs don’t teach people how to discontinue using their superficial muscles for support. So it’s all very nice to focus on strengthening the deepest layer, but if you don’t discontinue the superficial holding pattern, you will never have a healthy, movable spine. It becomes tension with an extra layer of tension. Instead, consider the possibility that the over-engagement of those superficial muscles is the reason why a person’s back pain never goes away.

The essence of Alexander Technique is ease and efficiency, lightness and availability, and most importantly, freedom to choose. If we choose not to support ourselves with superficial muscles that are designed to allow us to move, then those deep postural muscles will have to step out of retirement and relearn how to do their job. It’s not a quick fix, but it will make a world of difference.

For ages, bad posture has been assumed to cause back pain. Now some physiotherapists are rethinking what we should be doing with our spines

Would you like to do some gentle pilates mat work from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps you have a chronic hip, nec...
01/05/2023

Would you like to do some gentle pilates mat work from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps you have a chronic hip, neck, or back issue that never seems to go away? I run a 60-minute Pilates Mat Class on Mondays at 6pm EST (holidays excluded). All you need is a mat and some space. We use a foam roller, toning balls, therabands, small pillows or cushions, a chair, and a towel or two. Don’t feel obligated to buy a lot of new equipment. People often have suitable things around the house that will work just fine for the first few classes. Each class is $17. You may pay as you go, or pay for five at a time. I leave it up to you to decide. Regular attendees have noticed significant improvements in their mobility and support.

I run the class on Zoom. Reach out to me if you are interested.

https://capriceboisvert.ca/online-classes/

Would you like to have stronger feet? I run a 30-minute online Footwork Class that may fit your needs. The class runs on...
01/05/2023

Would you like to have stronger feet? I run a 30-minute online Footwork Class that may fit your needs. The class runs on Mondays at 5:30pm EST (holidays excluded). Each class is $8. You will need a broccoli elastic, a pair of socks, a tennis ball, and a small tinfoil ball. You may pay as you go, or pay for a month at a time. I leave it up to you to decide. Regular attendees have noticed significant improvements in their foot health.

I run the class on Zoom. Reach out to me if you are interested!

https://capriceboisvert.ca/online-classes/

I haven't read this self-help book, but I have definitely heard of it. It seems to me, as we launch into 2023, this migh...
01/05/2023

I haven't read this self-help book, but I have definitely heard of it. It seems to me, as we launch into 2023, this might be just the ticket.

Watch the world’s best documentaries at the annual Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and on Hot Docs at Home.

‘Tis the season. Inhabit Pilates and Movement
12/02/2022

‘Tis the season. Inhabit Pilates and Movement

This is fascinating! This piece is long, but is an interesting discussion of research into calorie burning in humans. “E...
03/08/2022

This is fascinating! This piece is long, but is an interesting discussion of research into calorie burning in humans.

“Exercise doesn’t help you burn more energy on average; active hunter-gatherers in Africa don’t expend more energy daily than sedentary office workers in Illinois; pregnant women don’t burn more calories per day than other adults, after adjusting for body mass.”

If you’re looking to exercise for weight loss, it may not be the key that we thought it was. Instead, think of it as a way to boost your system so you’re less likely to develop disease. It looks like diet is still the big ticket for weight loss.

The work of evolutionary anthropologist Herman Pontzer shows why humans are the fattest, highest energy apes

02/09/2022
02/09/2022
02/09/2022
Here’s an interesting piece on habits and self-control. Alexander Technique teaches us to be aware of habitual patterns ...
01/09/2022

Here’s an interesting piece on habits and self-control. Alexander Technique teaches us to be aware of habitual patterns of *thinking*. Whether it is the habitual way we react defensively to criticism or the habitual way we tie our shoelaces, our thinking can change and can lead to positive outcomes.

Forming new habits isn’t impossible, but it’s much easier for some people than others.

Bill the Cat does pilates!
01/08/2022

Bill the Cat does pilates!

It turns out, "Listen to your body," is really good advice. :D
11/17/2021

It turns out, "Listen to your body," is really good advice. :D

Results published in the Journal of Athletic Training found no clear links between a runner’s training parameters and the likelihood of injury

I came across this today. Looks like an interesting data analysis. I thought I had to exercise more as I age to prevent ...
10/17/2021

I came across this today. Looks like an interesting data analysis. I thought I had to exercise more as I age to prevent weight gain, but I think perhaps I am also swayed by: "Life is short. Eat dessert." In which case, more exercise is appropriate. :D

The article published in the journal, Science ("Daily energy expenditure through the human life course") is here:
https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe5017

It's a generally accepted belief that as you age, your resting metabolism slows — especially over age 40. Not true, says an August study published in the journal Science. Fitness expert Dana Santas shares four science-backed ways to boost your metabolism.

New blog: FREE YOUR JAW, PART I"Alexander Technique is a skill that allows us to become more aware of our habitual movem...
07/23/2021

New blog: FREE YOUR JAW, PART I
"Alexander Technique is a skill that allows us to become more aware of our habitual movement patterns. If one of your habitual patterns is to clench your jaw, you may not even know that you are doing it. That’s how amazing our habits are: they become so much a part of our day-to-day, that we fail to notice them. Most of the time, habits are really wonderful things. We should embrace them and be thankful that we have so many useful patterns at the ready. That is, until we face a habit that is less than optimal, such as, bruxing."
Click on this link to read the whole piece:
https://capriceboisvert.ca/blog/free-your-jaw-part-i/

This is very Alexandrian thinking. Very wise words we should all consider.
07/05/2021

This is very Alexandrian thinking. Very wise words we should all consider.

"It is important to maintain your equanimity. You cannot let yourself get too 'up' or too 'down' based on your circumstances."
"Too 'down' I understand. But why not too 'up?'"
"Because the higher your mountains are, the deeper your valleys will seem. You should not react to the world. You should respond, but not react. A response is an action based on logic. A reaction is an emotional state. Your reaction will not change the world. Your reaction only changes you. Your response will change the world."

I received a link to this piece today. It covers some great heath and fitness questions.I have copied the contents here ...
06/17/2021

I received a link to this piece today. It covers some great heath and fitness questions.

I have copied the contents here in case you cannot open the link.

‘Six months ago my knee was diagnosed as having wear and tear. Due to Covid restrictions, I’ve only been able to have phone appointments with a physiotherapist. Because I’m moving less I’ve gained weight, but I want to start exercising. What can I do?’
“One of the best yet most overlooked exercises is walking,” says Alex Parren, personal trainer and running coach for health and fitness equipment specialist Meglio. “It’s a fantastic form of cardio and low impact, making it perfect for those with wear and tear in their joints or those new to fitness.

“The best type is on uneven terrain (think hilly, countryside trails) as this promotes co-ordination, balance and focus, as well as including inclines and declines to work your cardiovascular system harder.

“Depending on your level of fitness and the difficulty of the terrain, an hour of walking could burn as many calories as a very fit person running on a treadmill.

“Another fantastic exercise for midlifers is swimming, which is also low impact, meaning your joints undergo little to no stress while your muscles and cardiovascular system get a great workout. When done at a moderate intensity, swimming burns as many calories as running or cycling with none of the injury risk. It’s a full body workout and also promotes co-ordination and concentration, so it keeps you mentally fit too.”


‘I walk at least 30 miles a week, but I’m finding it difficult to lose the last few pounds to hit the 11 stone mark. I cannot run because of knee damage in my youth. How can I shift the remaining weight?’
“Running isn’t necessary for weight or, more specifically, fat loss,” says Alasdair Fitz-Desorgher, personal trainer for home fitness app Openfit. “Walking can shed just as many pounds as running; it just may take a little longer.

“Fat loss gets harder as you get lighter. To lose fat, you must consistently burn more calories than you eat, as this forces your body to tap into stored calories (body fat). Heavier bodies burn more calories than lighter bodies, because muscles require more energy to move the extra weight; the same way your car burns more fuel when it’s full of heavy luggage.

“When you started losing weight, your diet (calories in) and exercise (calories out) created a calorie deficit, causing you to burn the stored fat. But now you’re lighter, the same amount of exercise burns fewer calories. Therefore, you need to adjust the balance by either eating even less, (which can be unsustainable and unhealthy), or by increasing the intensity or duration of your walks.

“I’d recommend setting yourself a walking challenge, varying the speed and intensity of the walk, and introducing hill walks.

“Finally, lift weights. It’s key to build full body strength and remain mobile, particularly core and lower leg strength to look after your knees. It will also help you lose weight.

“While many of us have a target weight, and numbers can be rewarding to chase, focusing on how you look and feel is a much better and more sustainable way to track your progress than your scales.”


‘What are the best exercises to lose belly fat and to beat tiredness due to the perimenopause?’
“You need to balance diet and movement,” says Nicki Philips, founder of fitness app Niix. “Increasing your intake of fruit and veg, wholemeal carbs, protein and good fats, and avoiding sugary, fatty food, will help. Adding movement will also shift fat and maintain a healthy weight.

“Combining cardio (HIIT, running, cycling, swimming) with lifting weights and core exercises will torch calories, increase muscle density (which means you’ll continue to burn more at rest), tone your stomach and help to create better posture, which will help keep belly fat in check. Sadly there is no exercise that specifically targets the tummy, but by moving more and consuming a healthier diet, it’s amazing what can be achieved.

“Exercise is also great for energy levels and improving sleep, which helps during the perimenopause. And move first thing: studies show those who start their day with exercise see their perimenopausal symptoms improve.”


‘I would like to put together a home gym in my garage. What would be useful, as opposed to an expensive white elephant that would take up space and not get used?’
“When putting together a home gym, it’s important to remember you don’t need to spend a lot of money,” says Parren. “Rather, create a capsule collection of key equipment you can store away when it’s not being used.

“My number one recommendation is a set of resistance bands. They come in several forms, from higher resistance ‘glute’ bands, which can be used for lower body exercises, to resistance tubes which feature handles and can be used to recreate upper body exercises done using machines at the gym.

“They can be used by exercisers of all abilities and they’re low impact, meaning they’re perfect for midlifers who need to be careful with their joints, and the resistance aspect will improve bone density and muscle repair.”


‘I work 40 hours a week and want to start a home strength training programme. How do I begin?’
“Strength training doesn’t need to be complicated; it requires very little equipment and for beginners you can start with using your own body weight,” says Nicole Chapman, personal trainer and creator of online workout programme Power of Mum. “In fact, mastering body weight moves before adding weights is key to preventing injury.

“I would recommend investing in a light/medium pair of dumbbells and a heavier pair. You are probably stronger than you realise, so don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.

“There has never been a better time for at home fitness with a huge variety of apps and online programmes available for you to follow and you don’t need to do a lengthy workout for results.

“My number one tip is to keep a record of your workout, noting how many reps, sets and the weight you used, so you can track your progression. Most importantly, enjoy it. Celebrate the little wins along the way – the first push up, lifting heavier or completing more reps.”


‘Should I be doing cardio or weights? And if both, what’s the best ratio?’
“Ideally both,” says Zoe Purpuri, an instructor at boxing club KOBOX.

“Lower impact exercises fare better on midlife bodies, so weight training is a great way to stay active without overloading the joints through high impact cardio. Strength training also helps to build lean muscle, so you burn more calories while resting, and it strengthens bones.

“Cardio has benefits too though, and keeps your lungs and heart fit, but you should always listen to your body and you may need to ease up as the years grow.

“As for the perfect cardio:strength training ratio? There isn’t one. Take into consideration your limits, strengths and listen to how your body reacts. The most important thing is to find a form of exercise you find both enjoyable but also sustainable. Just keep moving!”

In our new series we’re putting your fitness queries to our experts, who have all the answers for keeping fit in middle age

Here’s something to think about.
06/06/2021

Here’s something to think about.

"We're eye doctors."
"What's something about the eye that most people don't realize?"
"The eye doesn't see. The brain sees. The eye just transmits. So what we see isn't only determined by what comes through the eyes. What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we've seen before."

I just started a blog! Here is my first post! Update: I have edited this post because, interestingly, no one clicked on ...
06/03/2021

I just started a blog! Here is my first post!

Update: I have edited this post because, interestingly, no one clicked on the link to actually read the contents. So, I have included the full text below for you to read at your leisure, without having to click on a link.

Right and Wrong; Good and Bad

In my Pilates classes, I teach a series of arm movements that are designed to warm up the shoulder girdle and gently increase range of motion. Today in class, Student A was doing one of the movements, but a particular detail was missing. I cued this person to do the exercise differently, and they did. I explained that in making the change, they were facilitating the movement of the arm in the shoulder joint.

After hearing me say this, Student B decided to experiment. They repeated the exercise the same way as Student A prior to the cue. I said, “I see you doing the same thing as Student A.”

“Yes,” Student B remarked, “I wanted to see what it felt like if I did it that way. And it feels bad [to me].” This led me to say something along the lines of, “It’s great that you tried it both ways, because until you know what good feels like, you don’t know how bad feels.” I may have said it slightly differently in the moment, but this is the gist of it. Needless to say, these words can be interpreted on many levels (e.g., “How can you feel joy if you have only felt despair?” my student mused).

As both an Alexander Technique teacher and a Pilates teacher, I am specifically interested in guiding my students towards the self-discovery of light and easy movement that is free of pops and clicks and snaps. (How your journey of self-discovery gives you insight into other aspects of your life is the icing on the cake.)

Within the Alexander Technique community, there is a lot of discussion around the use of the words “Right” and “Wrong” and “Good” and “Bad”. The issue is that these words can contain judgement. But a judgement isn’t always necessary or helpful. It could simply be a descriptive statement: “This feels good,” or, “This feels wrong.” Even F.M. Alexander said, “When you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself.” When you listen to your internal dialogue, are you judging or observing?

In Pilates, there is a correct way of doing a movement. Given enough time, maybe Student A could have independently figured out that the movement they were doing was uncomfortable (or suboptimal), and maybe they would have changed it up and done it differently. Or maybe not. Because we can become very acclimatised to how a movement feels when we do it our habitual way, we may not notice that it is uncomfortable. Maybe uncomfortable feels normal. Sometimes being instructed to make a change opens a door to considering new sensations that may, in hindsight, feel better. This is why I love bringing Alexander Technique sensibilities to my Pilates classes.

http://capriceboisvert.ca/blog/right-and-wrong-good-and-bad/

In my Pilates classes, I teach a series of arm movements that are designed to warm up the shoulder girdle and gently increase range of motion. Today in class, Student A was doing one of the movements, but a particular detail was missing. I cued this person to do the exercise differently, and they di...

This is a short film that explains neuroplasticity. Alexander Technique lessons, anyone? Drop me a note!
03/29/2021

This is a short film that explains neuroplasticity. Alexander Technique lessons, anyone? Drop me a note!

The Sentis Brain Animation Series takes you on a tour of the brain through a series of short and sharp animations.The fourth in the series explains how our m...

03/20/2021

This is very cool. The skeleton from the ground up! Love it!

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Caprice Boisvert is certified to teach the Alexander Technique, the Pilates Method, and Kripalu Yoga, but her main focus is AT and Pilates. She is available for private lessons, and can be booked to teach workshops at your studio or office. Her focus is on teaching you to move from a biomechanically sound perspective. Caprice can help you improve your kinesthetic awareness, help you find internal support, help you improve your flexibility. You may find yourself feeling better and moving through your life with more ease. Lessons available at: Sagrario Pilates at 65 Wellesley Street East, Suite 405 (at Church Street) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday by appointment.

Annex RMT Clinic at 1415 Bathurst Street, Suite 303 (at St. Clair Avenue) Thursday by appointment.

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