More About Colleen
Spine pain and dysfunction
Yoga, Pilates & Somatics
Sport specific exercise rehabilitation
Pregnancy and newborns
A graduate of Concordia University, College d’Etudes Osteopatiques de Montreal (CEO) and Polestar Pilates education I have over 20 years’ experience as an Athletic Therapist, Osteopath and therapeutic Pilates instructor. Newly certified as a yoga instructor, I am also certified in Professional Pain Care education, Pain Care Yoga, Restorative yoga, Gentle Somatic Yoga Level and is in the process of completing levels I, II and II of. With over 1500hrs of continuing education I continue to enjoy learning more.
I am fascinated by the body, how it moves, how it responds to life’s demands & challenges, how each and every body is unique, and the incredible ability the body has to adapt and to heal. I am passionate about teaching people to understand their bodies better through education and embodying movement, breath and mindful exploration.
After three major spine surgeries, hip surgery, meningitis and four episodes of Shingles, the last decade has been a challenging one filled with chronic pain, vascular and neurological deficits, loss of function and a fragile immune system. A dancer from the age of 3, movement was always intuitive and easy for me. A shy person in many ways, movement was my primary form of expression. It changed my world and challenged my identity when all of a sudden, I found herself in a position where movement was no longer available to her for many years.
When you lose the ability to move you have no choice but to connect to a deeper part of yourself. For weeks at a time, 24 / 7, the only movement available were my thoughts, my breath and the vibrations created by exploring with my voice. I had adopted a beautiful 5yr old border collie / husky named Jasmine 4wks before this happened. If you know dogs, you know these are two high energy mixes! She figured out pretty quick that the only way I could play was if she dropped the ball on one specific spot on my stomach so I could pitifully nudge it off with my hand. The most pathetic version of ‘go fetch’ you have ever seen but it seemed to keep her happy!
These were the most physically challenging days of my life and could have been a period of extreme darkness. Instead I choose to see this time as a gift that allowed me to experience the multitude of benefits that come from embracing stillness, acceptance and surrender. Qualities that did not come naturally to me!
For the first 40yrs of my life, strength, independence, ambition, and drive got me through any obstacles I faced and allowed me to achieve my goals. The techniques I was drawn to in Osteopathy were more dynamic and active in nature and, in the studio, I enjoyed constantly finding creative ways to increase the challenge for myself and my clients.
In this last decade, I gained a visceral understanding of ‘less is more’ and how, when and why this approach is better for many. My body made it abundantly clear that pushing and using brute strength was not what would get me well. This challenge required, continues to require, an entirely different type of strength. A strength that is quiet, subtle, soft and humble in nature. This presented an interesting challenge and required a profound shift both physically & emotionally. It has enhanced the way I work, particularly those living with chronic pain or illness.
In 1997 I realized a dream when I opened CORE BASICS Centre d’Osteopathie et Pilates. After 16yrs as a clinic / studio owner, health issues dictated that I close my studio in 2013. Shortly thereafter, I opened a home office and continue to practice Osteopathy on a part-time basis. After several years’ hiatus, I am thrilled to be back to teaching movement and lecturing as these are two of my greatest loves. It felt like a piece of me was missing when I was unable to teach! Last year I opened a new studio space in my home and have enjoyed teaching there as well as at local studios.
Through many years dedicated to restoring my health, I have managed to get to a place where movement is accessible but on a much smaller scale than what I am used to. This has opened my heart and mind to many approaches I may not have researched a decade ago but may not have embraced. I am grateful for these gifts.
From a young age I’ve always been good at listening to my body but interestingly, the messages of this past decade have been profoundly different from the messages of the previous four decades. It has taught me the importance of being present in the moment. Regardless of what your body has responded to in the past, our bodies are constantly repairing, adapting and regenerating so each day is an opportunity to work with a fresh canvas. It is in our best interest to be mindful of this, to be open to listening to what our body needs at every given moment and to adapt and change as required. Like everything in life, it is about finding balance.
Along my continued path to recovery what I’ve learned has been invaluable both personally and professionally. Always interested in learning more, health challenges inspired me to dive into research to find relief and function again. Being a patient in our medical system was eye-opening. Staying informed and being a strong advocate for yourself is a must. Any method or technique referenced that was unfamiliar inspired me to dive into that topic through more reading, workshops or courses. Rather than staying in the Osteopathy, yoga, Pilates lane, I kept my mind open and expanded my studies to include a wide range of methods and approaches. As a result, the past decade has been all about researching, embodying and exploring a multitude of approaches in search of unique combinations that can be tailored to the needs of my clients. While it’s impossible to become an expert at everything, each method explored has expanded my views and informs and influences the way I work hands on in the clinic, through movement in the studio and how I teach others.
Always empathetic to those suffering, my lived experience with pain has deepened my understanding of how pervasive chronic pain can be. When you live with chronic pain there is no aspect of your life left untouched. In Osteopathy manual treatment always addresses the body as a functional whole. Essential to my treatments now are the education and the tools to help my clients manage every aspect of their day to day (Self-compassion, pacing, anxiety, sleep, nutrition, return to movement, socializing, etc).
My mission is to help people in pain find joy in movement and a better quality of life and that IS accessible. Although I love to teach, the body is so complex and wildly interesting that I will never stop being a student. Always eager to soak up more information to help unravel the complexity of the human body, mind and spirit I will never stop searching for ways to enhance and improve my treatment approach and teaching.