Rediscovering the joy of play in movement

About Movement Kitchen

Movement kitchen for me symbolises weaving movement into the everyday. My studio really happens to be in our large open-plan kitchen. When I don’t teach here our living space is still an ever‐changing obstacle course with balance boards, half domes and spiky balls lying around and me and the children playfully climbing over them as I’m trying to cook dinner.

I aim to create the warm, homely, intimate atmosphere of the kitchen in my sessions too. In some way, my movement coaching sessions are similar to inviting someone for dinner and ending up cooking together, playfully mixing spices into a tasty, nurturing meal.

I use Restorative Exercise / Nutritious Movement™ approach as a starting point in my work looking for movement equivalents of nutritional deficiencies in the body - undermoved areas and underused muscles, joints that hardly articulate and motor skills that are lacking. The idea is to initially supplement your movement diet with precisely targeted exercises to restore function in the underused areas and then really get to use them more in your day-to-day life. In a way, the exercises are used as vitamins - to address the nutritional issue in a short term while gradually transitioning to a more varied and nutrient-rich diet that will help the body thrive in a long run.

I work a lot with biomechanics and science of movement but in a relaxed and informal way, guided by empathy and intuition. Instead of a lab my working space is a kitchen, both literally and metaphorically.

About Ivana

My movement journey has been paved by various injuries and an unstoppable urge for learning in the process of overcoming them. I often felt my body was too fragile to follow my pace of life.

In 2008 I left a career in corporate law with a recurrent back pain and not being able to feel parts of my left foot. I completed my first yoga teacher training with the Yoga Federation of Serbia back in my home country. In 2012 I continued my yoga studies in India, spending three months at the Yoga Institute Santacruz in Mumbai and volunteering at health camps and workshops that the Institute regularly held for the locals. Coming back to England, I went on studying with Yogacampus and attending intensives and immersions in London primarily focusing on yoga as therapy. After years of studying, teaching and a dedicated daily practice I managed to fully restore my feet and rarely had any back pain.

But then in 2014, shortly after my first child was born, I suffered a repetitive strain injury of both wrists and a severe abdominal separation (diastasis recti) with recurring back spasms that made me unable to continue my practice the way it was. It was so incredibly frustrating to be getting re-injured over and over again and have spasms every time I practised yoga, or even just carried my child. Not moving couldn’t be an option, but the way I used to move was hurting me.

I found that there was so little support offered by the healthcare and very little research done about diastasis recti, especially about its connection with back and pelvic pain. Abdominal separation is usually seen as an “aesthetic problem” and most of the solutions available focused on patching the gap instead of looking into what had caused it.

I wanted to understand why injuries happen and how to avoid them in the first place

Looking for answers I started obsessively learning different approaches to movement and bodywork. Questioning, deconstructing and learning again from various teachers across the fields of yoga as therapy, pilates, somatics, dance, Structural Integration, myofascial release and massage.

In 2014 I discovered the work of American biomechanics scientist Katy Bowman looking into forces of physics created by movement and how gravity, pressure and friction affect tissues. I felt I finally found a missing piece I was looking for. I wanted to learn how to think and see the body as a biomechanist. But above all, I wanted to find the underlying causes of my injury and see if I could heal the separation without a surgery. In 2015 I started the 2-year certification with the Nutritious Movement Institute under Katy Bowman and in October 2017 got qualified as a Nutritious Movement™ certified Restorative Exercise Specialist.

These two years felt like peeling off layer by layer of all I knew about movement, rebuilding and reconnecting everything again. I quickly gave up on the surgery idea and instead of focussing on the separation itself I started focussing on restoring the functionality of everything around it. I realised that challenge for me was not to just move more but with more precision, getting more parts of my body to actively participate in the movement. I started focusing more on motor programming and proprioception in my movement practice, isolating small movements and mastering them before jumping onto larger ones. And gradually I have restored a functional core and a body that is able to support me in doing what I love.

Rebuilding confidence into what my body was able to do brought about a transition to a much more movement-rich lifestyle. I threw out the supportive insoles from my shoes and gradually replaced all my heeled shoes with barefoot ones. Our family got rid of most of our furniture and started spending a lot of our time outside, moving in nature. I started looking at my environment differently, finding movement opportunities where there were none: noticing all the trees for climbing on my walks, walking much more barefoot and on varied surfaces, using the children playground time to hang, climb and play with them instead of just standing around.

Longer I work with movement and the body, more I realise, the progress is defined not by one time achievements, but by general blurring of the border between exercise and life.

Exercise is not enough - I realised, we need MOVEMENT to thrive. Our bodies are beautifully malleable and adapt to the way we use them.

You can create an environment that requires you to move more frequently and move more parts of you as you go about your everyday life. Even making tiny changes can make a big difference over time. Each little change creates a thousand ripples.