Autoimmune disease and Trauma: The Dailey Method Connection

Autoimmune disease and Trauma: The Dailey Method Connection

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW

As I stepped into the gym for my daily workout, I looked around and saw how many people were staring at screens, listening to music, or lost in thought. I imagined many of the thoughts were focused on the end of the workout rather than a moment by moment experience of the workout. Some people looked at their clocks, maybe they were counting down the time remaining before the workout ended. Sadly, people didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves; I didn’t see people laughing while on the treadmill. I used to be one of these people. Exercise was a means to an end. It was a way I kept a lean figure, reduced stress, and maintained muscle mass. There were many days I didn’t feel like going to the gym, but I did anyways, because I was addicted to fitness. I loved how it made me feel as my brain’s happy chemicals flooded my body. 

Today, I view exercise very different than I did a decade ago. I am grateful my attitude and behaviors changed. Had I continued my intense workouts–deriving little joy from them, and straining my joints so I could feel surges of happy chemicals– I would have missed the health benefits I had yet to realize.

I discovered The Dailey Method at a time when I needed it the most. My passion for ballroom dance, and a desire to strengthen my body so I could dance with less injury, drew me to Dailey Method. But once I began, the reasons why I made a long-term commitment to Dailey Method were much bigger. Being truthful to myself, I needed to admit I could no longer sustain the high intensity, cardio blast, calorie busting workouts I was accustomed to. I had Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune inflammatory disease affecting the large and small intestine. While exercise was a big part of my healing, because it reduced stress AND inflammation in my body (the hallmark of autoimmune illnesses), my exercise approach was not in balance. I needed to care for my body and support its healing in ways that rejuvenated it from the inside out. It wasn’t until I discovered Dailey Method that I started to understand how structured workouts can be fun and productive at the same time. I also began to realize that it is possible to take care of one’s body and nurture it while accomplishing fitness goals. 

Trauma and Autoimmune disease separate me from my body

I had a long history of disregarding my body. I experienced childhood trauma that shaped my understanding of my relationship with my body. I didn’t know how to be comfortable in my body because as a child, I had to hide my feelings to keep myself safe. My childhood was dangerous and all I wanted to do was escape my body. This was compounded by chronic illness. I hated my body because it was a place of discomfort and unexplained symptoms. One way I coped with my relationship with my body was to over exercise and push my body beyond its limits; this made me feel in control. I had so many stress hormones pumping through my body from a natural response to trauma called ‘fight or flight,’ that I couldn’t manage the resulting anxiety and nervousness. Compulsive exercising helped me release and cope with an abundance of stress hormones. I thought this was a healthy way to cope. However, balance is critical in order for true healing to take place; this involves an integration of physical and emotional healing as well as incorporating one’s passion (what makes life worth living). Exercising too hard and depleting my already vulnerable immune system was not balance. A much healthier approach to cope with trauma and the stressors of chronic illness was to develop an authentic relationship with my body. This would allow me to understand my feelings, notice sensations and symptoms, and express them appropriately through mental health therapy, activities that brought me joy, and supportive relationships. Dailey Method provided one way for me cultivate this relationship with my body.

Strengthening my relationship with my body

A perfect transition for hard-core cardio fans, Dailey Method gets the heart pumping and the muscles working with varied intensities; it is empowering because there are many choices to make it one’s own. Dailey Method is typically not called a workout but instead is called a ‘practice.’ Language creates meaning, and practice suggests an experience beyond an exercise regimen. I wasn’t participating to get my workout done; I was participating in a practice that involved all parts of my body and self. This practice was my own and much like my dancing practices, it inspired growth and personal development along the way. For the first time, I accomplished my need to have a challenging physical workout BUT in a balanced, gentle, and mindful way. This was a foundation for self-care and moving through my life with body awareness. 

Principles of Dailey Method transfer to LIFE

Each exercise draws attention to the inside of the body and how all parts of the body work together to support each other. Through noticing one’s foot foundation, there is an invitation to appreciate how our bodies bring us confidence and ground us to ourselves and the world around us. Dailey Method emphasizes alignment but not only in the sense of our physical bodies standing straight. The focus on alignment expands to a holistic philosophy: Only once our bodies are aligned and our authentic selves participate in this collaboration with our bodies, are we able to be aligned in our greater purpose and day to day intentions. Our bodies are always communicating with us; sometimes the messages are subtle and we ignore them. But, Dailey Method awakens an awareness of the language of the body and this makes us more mindful of what it needs to heal and feel good. 

Mind-body approaches enhance healing

For those of us with trauma, autoimmune disease, and chronic illness, it is easy to develop a detached relationship from one’s body. Movement is very important for healing. Our bodies express themselves through movement and this is an essential component in healing from trauma. Illness is never one dimensional. Healing is always enhanced with approaches that show how the body works for us and in coordination with each part of the body and our environment. Dailey Method honors these connections and because of my practice, I am making connections with myself that are furthering my healing.

Finding meaning in exercise

Today, I no longer view exercise as a means to an end. It is a process where I can be in the moment and enjoy the lessons my body teaches me about life. As I continue to develop my Dailey Method practice, it supports the other practices in my life. I feel confident and empowered as a woman. I know myself better than anyone else knows me. Because of this, I like my body, not only for its physical strength, but for the limitless potential it has to heal and enhance my life experiences. I feel subtle changes in my body as it learns to move with ease, but I know the changes that have taken place in the rest of my life because of it. 

 

Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker, author, and founder of www.lightyoursparkle.life. She specializes in chronic illness, trauma, and integrative models for healing. Inspired by her own struggles with autoimmune illnesses and trauma, she educates about empowerment and how to build individualized healing plans.

Word of the Month: SHINE!

 

SHINEto give forth or glow with light; shed or cast light.

to be bright with reflected light; glisten; sparkle.

noun – radiance or brightness caused by emitted or reflected light.

 

SHINE bright with us! 

At The Dailey Method we SHINE for three weeks every Fall!  

While the word SHINE has several meanings or implications, for me, there is one in particular that I work hard to instill within The Dailey Method. At TDM our mission is to empower others to be their best selves, to live their best lives and to shine from the inside – out. It’s a core value that we believe in and I personally do my best to show up lit up from the inside, everyday. It’s something I hope to inspire or call out in everyone I meet, as well. I feel it the most and thrive when given the opportunity to support positive body image and self confidence in people everywhere. No doubt this is one of the things people need most to shine their brightest.  

I know I feel my own personal best when I “burn bright” from the inside. It makes me reflect on the idea that how we decide to show up in the world, in each and every moment, is as much for ourselves as it is for those with whom we run into, connect with or love. Shining from within feels amazing, but it takes focus, work and intention to accomplish.

Have you ever been sad and forced yourself to smile? I know that when I practice this simple action, I immediately feel a little better. I make an effort to truly see and smile at people as I’m moving throughout my life. I don’t always succeed, but I work hard and set my intention on showing up in this way. After all, who doesn’t want to receive a smile? They’re not always receptive 😂 but once I make a connection I see that I’ve literally, even if in a super small way, lit someone up. 

Create a moment in your day where you make intentional eye contact and do so with a smile. Notice the reactions and decide to spread kindness remembering that it is fuel for everyone around you!

At TDM, the emphasis we place on the alignment of the bones and spine translates to feeling better, standing taller and off-setting aging (increasing longevity) in addition to helping to stave off disease. No better segway into our Align and SHINE challenge that provides you a platform of 21 days to consciously commit to yourself and to focus on you. This is an intentional time for you to make yourself a number one priority. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time! All you commit to is the decision to schedule movement, meals and time for yourself. You can do this in a Studio or in your own home. Do it ANYWHERE! Click to find out more.

One of my favorite hashtags is #burnbrightdailey It’s a slogan we’ve used amongst our corporate and student communities for years. Looking back at it, I love how much it expresses not only who we are at TDM and what our culture is but also how have and continue to evolve.

And because I believe that the more we affirm ourselves the easier it is to shine, I want to share a couple of my favorite “thoughts of the day”:

  • Close your eyes and visit your greatest achievement to date. Allow your pride and gratitude to SHINE outwardly to assist you in life. You are AMAZING!!
  • Remember that there is a brilliance unique only to you and therefore is a special light only you get to share with our world. Shine bright today. The brighter you shine the more you can light up those around you.
  • You are enough. Exactly where you are and exactly who you are- right now.

 

Have fun and “Burn Your Brightest” all month long! 

Jill

“I HATE MY BODY”….. SOUND FAMILIAR?

While at a women’s conference earlier this month, we were asked to participate in an exercise called STAND UP FOR YOUR SISTER.  We were all given a sheet of paper with different challenges we might have encountered or experiences we have had and asked to check the boxes off for the ones that applied to us. After completing the exercise, we folded them up and passed them around the room of 7800 people until no one knew who had completed their form.  THEN, they read the questions out loud, and you were asked to stand up for anything you checked off the list.

There were lots of hard things on the list, and more things that applied to a vast majority of the room than I would have liked.  The one that broke my heart was I HATE MY BODY.

I swear, 90% of the room stood up.

I HATE MY BODY.  Note: It didn’t say, “I wish I could change something about my body.” it said, “I HATE MY BODY.”

First, it made me sad……sad that so many women could HATE the body in which they live every second of every day for their entire life.  THEN, it made me mad….DAMMIT media with your airbrushing and the 90’s waif epidemic where so many of the women in my circle were impacted by the idea that somehow not having ribs showing or (gasp) touching thighs somehow tells the world (and apparently ourselves) that we aren’t quite as deserving or strong as a woman thinner than we.   AND FINALLY, it made me excited. That’s right. Excited. Not because there are so many of us running around HATING ourselves….that part still makes me tear up…but because we can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Yep.  We can do something about it, and it doesn’t involve a diet, an exercise plan (although I’ve got a recommendation for a kickin’ barre and cycle studio if you need one), or plastic surgeon.  We can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT just lying down. We can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT while driving in our car, sitting on our couch, or folding laundry. We can CHANGE OUR THINKING regarding our bodies.

Your body EVERY DAY…does amazing things.

YOUR BODY gets you out of bed, into the bathroom, and gives you the mobility to get through your day.

YOUR BODY lets you SEE and HEAR conversations with your loved ones and enjoy things you love and care about like music, a grandchild’s soccer game, or interesting lunch conversation with a dear friend.

YOUR BODY is the vessel where you open your arms and give and receive LOVE from your kids, your spouse, your friends.

YOUR BODY moves you from one place to another where you can LIVE!

Has your body…

Held the hand of a sick or scared friend?
Made a human being?
Danced in celebration of victory?
Felt the wind in your face as you rode to the top of a Ferris wheel and your stomach dropped?
Walked you down an aisle towards matrimony?
Crossed a finish line you never thought you’d cross?

Yes?  That’s YOUR BODY.  It deserves your LOVE.  HATING it is abuse.

What happens to an abused child, an abused animal?  It shrinks. It gets frightened and doesn’t feel safe to be who they are.

Did you know that there are studies that show if you speak kindly to a plant, it grows faster and thrives more than a plant that is spoken to negatively?  A FICUS stunts when you ignore it or mistreat it. What do you think is going to happen to YOU when you HATE your body?

So, what now?  Fine! Christina, I get it, you’re right! Thank you. But now, I just feel bad about hating my body, but I still hate my body. What can we DO? I am an action girl. I also realize that change doesn’t come without time and a lot of hard work. Work in self-talk can be the hardest work that we do. So, I have an idea. This week – when you wake up.  BEFORE you get out of bed, I want you to speak love into your body.  THANK YOUR BODY for THREE THINGS that it is going to do for you this day.  THREE THINGS that you are grateful for (for me, writing it down helps – but do what works for you.) THEN, when you go to bed, I want you to THANK YOUR BODY for what it DID FOR YOU TODAY.

Did you catch that flight JUST IN TIME because your body hustled, albeit super ungracefully while knocking a tall guy’s coffee out of his hand in concourse B, and got you to the gate right before the flight attendant closed the door?  Say, “I’m thankful for my legs and their ability to jog in business casual apparel.” Did your body sweat and get sunburned while you weeded your garden to make it beautiful for a BBQ your hosting tomorrow for friends?  “I’m thankful for my ability to move onto the ground and create beauty.” Did your body provide a soft shoulder for a co-worker to cry on while you learned of her recent marital trouble? “I’m thankful for my body and my ability to physically support someone when they need me.”

YOU ARE LIVING INSIDE YOUR BODY. …and you deserve to love that space.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you – and if you have ideas to share that can help us cultivate feelings of appreciation for these amazing tools that let us LIVE, I’m all ears.

Christina Vance is The Dailey Method Studio Owner in Colleyville Texas, mother of three, and passionate about empowering people everywhere to be their best selves. 

Word of the Month: Create

Create |krēˈāt|verb  

Bring (something) into existence

cause (something) to happen as a result of one’s actions

 

The picture above is from my 50th Birthday celebration. It encompasses so much of what the word “Create” means to me. I gathered 16 of my favorite women from many different stages in my life to share in a weekend together. I don’t often make the time for crafts, however on this trip – we did! These were selenite crystals that we wrapped in suede string and decorated with dried flowers for each other. We printed private messages on tank tops and made beautiful flower arrangements for the tables. Many of these women had not met each other previously, but there were immediate bonds. That weekend we created art, shared sentiments, developed some very strong relationships and made the most amazing memories together!

Creating change does not have to be some huge event. It happens simply and slowly through awareness and practice. We can improve on a skill we desire or change a habit we don’t like simply by putting in a little time or focus on it on a regular basis. It’s through the smallest of shifts that true and lasting change can be created.

  1. Ruminate on what you’d like to be different in your life, surroundings or career and then envision how those things will make you feel once you’ve accomplished them. Understanding that feeling can help you obtain it. 
  2. Notice if there’s some tiny way you might better someone’s life who needs support and simply take an incremental action in that direction. It can be as simple as a phone call or a hug.
  3. Systematically and regularly focus on an idea and how it feels to you and write it down in a journal.

I do believe that placing our attention towards what we desire is what enables us to create it!

When you create ANYTHING, you become responsible for introducing something new into your life. Then, as a result of this action, you also create a situation where most times the renewed energy you feel, subtle changes you make, the broader perspective you adopt or the excited attitude you experience spreads like wildfire out into the world. It opens up infinite possibilities for you to call in more beauty, happiness, peace and joy not only into your own life but into the lives of others around you! This creation or contribution does not need to be massive in order to have a lasting impact.

I’m extremely proud of what I’ve created with respect to having founded The Dailey Method and watching it grow to all it is today. The Dailey Method is many things. It is movement and a means to exercise your body, which to some may seem as a modality that focuses solely on the exterior or physical and may be perceived as something that is ego driven. But that said, the aesthetic is only one small part of what we want people walk away with when they come through our doors. The Dailey Method is a vehicle that allows myself and all of the teachers, owners and staff to help empower others to feel stronger from the inside out!  We get the opportunity to support you in owning your strength and confidence so that you are able to show up as your BEST self outside of our walls and therefore within your life. Our messaging, workout and community affords you a way to feel so amazing that you inevitably are inspired to build up those around you. That’s what can create real change in our world and lives!

While there is not a whole lot of extra time in my life right now, I’m focusing my creative energy this month on my stretching sequences. I plan to keep my usual and intentional focus on offering fun classes that are fundamentally strong in our alignment principles (align, engage and move) as I incorporate more creative stretching to keep you challenged and engaged and present in your body. The Dailey Method’s goal is to provide you an environment where you are drawn to inwardly focus on yourself from the moment you walk through the door until the time you leave and I know that adding in an element of surprise is always what will keep you present. 

That in and of itself is powerful!

Show up to class. We will do this together! 

Then, beginning today –  start an inner dialogue that allows you to create your own story from within that lifts you up. 

I’d love to hear how you’re inspired to create this month!

Love,

Jill

 

Word of the Month: Invest

Investing in yourself, sends a powerful message to both yourself and to the world. It says: The value and potential that I possess is hugely important to me. Because of this, I will give myself the energy, space and time to grow so I inevitably create the results I desire.

The word “Invest” is usually associated with finances or relates to what we do for our business, homes and our children. Its meaning, however, also applies to the investment we make in the use of our time and our intentions. In fact, this can be the most powerful type of investment we each make. To invest in ourselves, who we are, who we want to become and how we want to show up in the world undoubtedly has a lasting impact.

Investing in ourselves and placing great importance on integrating this habit as a life practice, provides us one of the best returns. Whether it’s taking time to create or learn a new skill, hire a coach or dive deeper into personal or professional development, all are hugely worthwhile. We must give to ourselves first before we have enough to share with others. It is our responsibility to make the space to hone our gifts and talents so that we can best serve the people in our lives most important to us. Plus it makes us a better person out in the world. Self-investment is an example of self-love. You must love yourself before you can expect others to love you.

My intention to invest in my own self this summer had me asking these questions: What will build me up? What will make me stronger? How will more confidence and capability allow me to show up as the best version of myself for everyone in my life, and most especially – for myself? I often time repeat mantras to myself, this month they are: Love More. Care More. Trust My Intuition. Be Fearless. Seek Happiness. Focus on Appreciation and Gratitude. The answers that came to me personally for self investment were:

Quality time with family:

This summer I took a trip to Bassy France to celebrate my niece’s wedding. My niece, Sarah, and sister, Kelly, own the Dailey Method Studio in Paris. Personally, it wasn’t the easiest time for me to take a trip to Europe, but I believe in the importance of prioritizing time with the people we love and who love us in return. It was important for my family and I that I be present for the festivities and I’m so glad I was! Being with my family fills me up and it is imperative to nurture those relationships.

Pictured: me with my sisters and grand-nephew in France

High on my priority list is quality time with my children. My son, Julius, told me that he really wanted to learn how to cook. Instead of spending the energy and money for a camp for him, we decided to do it together. Next week, we are going to cook something together each day. He’ll choose the menus, we’ll go to the farmer’s market and grocery store so that he can do the shopping and we’ll make everything as a team. I’ll invest in guiding him to learn these new skills and I know the quality time that I get to spend with him will definitely reap rewards. Greater connection with my son, helping him become more confident and competent and an in house chef is a definite win, win! 

You can follow my stories next week to see our progress on instagram.

Always be a Student:

This is a huge part of my life and something I continue to put energy into and the best part is – it doesn’t always come with a cost! 

In order to continue my personal investment on self awareness I signed up for a free meditation series with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. I’ve participated in these in the past and feel like I get a lot out of their teachings! I hugely appreciate the wisdom both of them continue to impart. I’ve signed up for their 21 day series starting on Monday the 15th called the Relationship Meditation Series.

I also enrolled for a mini course called  5 Truths of Transformation by the founder of The Hivery, which is a collaborative and creative co-working space in Mill Valley, CA. I haven’t started it yet, but Grace Kraaijvanger is a brilliant business woman that created an amazing concept so I know I want to hear what she has to say!

If you want suggestions for investing in yourself to support “always being a student” check out: Basics of Barre/ Basics of Cycle by The Dailey Method! These are intimate training platforms for all those who are passionate about The Dailey Method and for anyone ready to take their practice to the next level. Investing in this course will help you develop and deepen your own personal practice and will take you on a journey meant to support you in finding optimal alignment inside and out! The Basics of Barre and/or Basics of Cycle by The Dailey Method are being held in Loudoun, VA on September 13th-15th and Fairfax, California on October 27th-29th. This intensive study of our full-body barre and/or cycle workout will help you stay strong and fit as you learn the ins and outs of the most sustainable fitness method for life. Invest now!

Visit thedaileymethod.com for more information and to receive an early bird pricing discount of 10% for either location – but hurry! Discounted pricing for Loudoun ends on Monday, July 15th and for Fairfax on August 21st.

Anatomy4Fitness is another great tool for anyone that loves learning more about the body, the way it moves and how to stay aligned and engaged. Kerry  Corcoran, co-owner of Berkeley and Lamorinda, California studios, continually engages with her students to keep them growing and learning even after you’ve finished the series. Use this link to sign up and receive 20% off the entire course at checkout!

When you’re willing to say yes and take that leap of faith to invest in yourself first, you 100% profit from all that the universe has in store for you. Do it now and have fun!

Love,

Jill

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