Osteopath, pain care educator, Pain Care Aware trainer, therapeutic pilates, yoga & somatics practitioner
Following my heart and my instincts over the years led me down an incredible path of discovery.
Always fascinated with movement and how the body works I started dancing at the age of three and haven’t stopped exploring movement since.
This love of movement is what drew me toward manual and movement therapies (bodywork) which are as much an art as they are a science . I feel privileged to be a part of both worlds.
Every time I put my hands on a client, I hone my craft and learn something more about the science behind it.
Every time I observe how a person moves, I learn something about the body I did not previously know.
After 23yrs of working with the human body it continues to surprise me. Knowing that it always will is part of what keeps me coming back!
An important part of professional growth is to learn from others and experience their work firsthand.
I make it a point to get worked on by many to learn from different approaches. As a practitioner and teacher it's important to understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of treatment, movement and different suggestions and cues.
I expected the physical benefits that resulted but was amazed at the introspection and emotional growth this work promotes.
You have no choice but to evolve as a human being when you work so closely with others.
As a practitioner, my favourite part of any hands-on session
is that moment when I can no longer tell where my hands end and their body begins.
The official term is ‘co-regulation’ but to me that sounds too cold and clinical to describe the profound beauty of those moments. The rhythms of your breath, your heart rates and your nervous systems meld and work together to find the best path towards a better state of health.
You and I work together, as partners,to soften or remove these patterns and limitations.- rework….
Bodywork allows the body's inherent intelligence to be accessed more easily and you, the client, essentially fixes yourself.
We shape our bodies through the movements we do, the emotions we feel, the thoughts we think and the choices we make.
Like anything in life it is all about balance.
If the way you move, feel and think is always the same and you continue to make the same choices this can create certain patterns in the body.
Many who seek treatment ask if I can 'fix' them. In truth, this work is more about removing whatever may be getting in the way of the body's natural ability to express good health.
Things like postural adaptations, physical and emotional patterns and limiting beliefs.
I have no desire to become an expert in all things but instead use what resonates from each practice to strengthen and hone my own.
Teaching is a true passion of mine and one of my favourite ways to learn. When putting a course together it inevitably sends me back to my books.
Questions from students never fail to challenge my current ideas and inspire me to look at things from a different perspective.
Seeking new and innovative ways to update my studies and refine my work led me down many interesting paths over the years.
My work has been influenced by an incredible mix of practitioners and methods. I feel honoured to have learned from so many incredible leaders in the fields of Pain Care, ACT, Athletic Therapy, Osteopathy, anatomy, embryology, psychology, anthropology, Feldenkrais, Fascial Stretch Therapy, Continuum Movement, Somatics, Body Mind Centering, dance, Anatomy Trains, yoga & Pilates.
This is an incomplete list because I will always continue to explore!
I’ve chosen professions that allow me to fully engage all of my senses, that challenge me physically and intellectually, that push me to grow emotionally and spiritually, that connect me to the deepest parts of others and that allow me to be a small part of someone’s path of self-discovery toward better health and wellbeing.
How lucky am I?!
Intuitively following one opportunity after another has made my path a winding one, not a straight line and I am so glad.
Everything I am and everything I have ever done influences how I show up in my work.
My love of dance and movement in all its forms, my curiosity and connection to nature and wildlife, my interest in understanding who people are at their core all inform the intention with which my hands make contact.
Rather than simply fixing the physical issues, I wanted to be a part of the recovery process, the part that got people back to doing what they loved most.
For as long as I can remember my plan was to be an orthopaedic or neurosurgeon.
At 17 years of age I had severe spinal stenosis and two herniated discs. This led to 5yrs of chronic lower back pain with neuropathic pain down both legs to the feet.
As a patient in the system I realised being a surgeon in Montreal was not what I had pictured in my mind.
In 1992, while in university, I had my 1st spine surgery on my 22nd birthday. The recovery process showed me that it was the Athletic Therapists (AT), the Physiotherapists and the Osteopaths who had the biggest impact on my day-to-day and who I developed a relationship with.
While I am eternally grateful to Dr. Ford for his skills as a surgeon the experience confirmed that surgery was not my path.
It seemed too good to be true that studying movement was something you could make a profession out of!
I stumbled upon the Athletic Therapy program at Concordia University and every single course got me excited about being in school!
Anatomy, physiology, principles of exercise science…they all spoke to me. I loved every second of the three-year Athletic Therapy (AT) program.
As a 2nd year athletic therapy student, I thought I knew so much about the body. This makes me laugh now. The reality was I had just barely scratched the surface!
My AT mentor, Paul Evans, was in his 3rd year of Osteopathy when I was going to him for treatment after my back surgery. I was fascinated by the different techniques he used.
He manipulated my organs, did craniosacral work and spoke of anatomy not as different parts but as an interconnected whole and I knew that Osteopathy had to be the next step in my professional journey.
In 1997, the fall after my AT certification, I began the 5 year Osteopathy program at Le College d’Etudes Osteopathiques de Montreal.
Therapeutic pilates & yoga
I had no way of knowing how that summer job would change the course of my life.
After graduating from the AT program I needed a summer job. Anne McMillan was first Pilates Instructor in Montreal and the only studio owner at the time.
I had never heard of Pilates but was thrilled to get a job at her studio. To become certified as a Pilate instructor, I did a year-long mentorship with Anne and it was a fabulous experience.
This method spoke to me as a dancer, as an AT and it was the final step in helping me heal.
This was ~4yrs post- back surgery and I had recovered well but continued to have intermittent low back and neuropathic pain.
Physically doing the Pilates repertoire of exercises got me strong, functional and back to the level of athleticism and coordination that I had prior to surgery.
In 2003 I got certified through Polestar Pilates and mentored their teacher trainings for years.
Pilates got me back to the body & function I had prior to surgery.
I immediately started incorporating mat Pilates into rehab programs with patients at the two sports medicine clinics I was working for.
One of those clinics was expanding. I was a student, fresh out of school with no savings but I felt so strongly about the potential that I purchased a Pilates Reformer myself and rented a tiny corner of the clinic to run as my own business.
Now how to go about getting clients…It's mainstream now but back then, no one knew that Pilates even existed let alone how beneficial it was!
I was still working for the clinic as an AT and anytime I had a break between patients I would hop on the Reformer and go through the repertoire.
Many days were spent on that Reformer demonstrating all it had to offer, trying to pique the interest of the therapists and the patients in the clinic.
Where Pilates & Rehab Meet
It didn’t take long before patients were asking their therapist what this funky piece of equipment was and could they try it, would it help them in their rehab?
For the next 23yrs the business steadily grew and I branched out on my own in 2003. From an 8 x 12 corner of space, to working out of my 4 1/2 apartment, to opening a very small clinic / studio, eventually adding the Trapeze Table, the Chair and the Barrel.
CORE BASICS expand every few years until realising the ultimate vision of my own multi-disciplinary clinic in 2007.
As my clientele grew I needed to hire more instructors. At this point I was an Osteopath and my clientele consisted of people with complex injuries and chronic conditions. The few certified instructors in Montreal were more fitness oriented, not trained to work with complex rehab cases.
This pushed me to develop my own Pilates
teacher training program with a rehab approach.
I then hired those I trained to work with me and a beautiful and highly qualified team evolved over the years. Teaching movement teachers continues to be one of my favourite things to do!
I had dabbled in yoga here and there over the years but got into it seriously ~2007 to help me through a challenging emotional time. Ashtanga yoga is what I was drawn to then, I loved the physically demanding nature of it!
Pilates had taught me how to use breath during effort, yoga taught me to use breath for life. The combination is invaluable.
After 3 spine surgeries, a hip surgery, meningitis and various health challenges, Ashtanga is no longer the right style for me.
Always searching for ways to address my own challenges and the needs of my clients I was drawn to Marianne Thorborg’s Anusara Based Hatha yoga teacher training and got certified in 2019.
I also have certifications in Gentle Somatic Yoga, Restorative Yoga and Yoga for Pain Care. I have done >1500hrs of continuing education courses through Yoga U Online, Yoga International, Yoga Alliance, Pilates Method Alliance, Body Mind Centering, Feldenkrais, Embodied yoga, Osteopathy, Tom Myers’ Anatomy Trains and various fascial and somatic approaches.
I have a deep love and respect for both Pilates and yoga...
All forms of movement really. They are complimentary practices
and I feel privileged to teach in both communities.
Parallel to my Pilates training, I began the 5yr Osteopathy program in 1997. When I began the program, I loved the physical techniques but did not gravitate naturally to the quieter, sensorial techniques of craniosacral work that is the heart of Osteopathy.
Craniosacral work requires a stillness of body and mind that were foreign to me. Sitting still for even a moment felt like a waste of valuable time in those days! It is now 2020 and I can’t tell you how strange it is to write that sentence!
Stillness and meditation are such an integral part of my life & pain management routine. I don’t know how I ever managed without those tools.
I hope that is motivating for those of you reading this who think you will never be able to meditate.
When Osteopathy began to focus on embryology and treating the viscera, something shifted inside of me. Embryology tells the story of who we are and how we come to be in this amazing body that takes us through life.
It’s impossible to dive into embryology without gaining a whole new respect for the body. There is a whole world beyond the musculoskeletal system.
We are not just muscles, bones, ligaments, and fascia.
We are so much more and it ALL needs to be considered.
Absolutely everything inside of us is connected and has a role in how we function, how we feel, how we live and how we express ourselves.
At this point in my journey, my clientele naturally became more Osteopathic than athletic in nature meaning that I started to see people who had complex, chronic issues instead of athletic, acute injuries.
It didn’t take long before this became my new speciality. It is my passion to help those in pain learn to LIVE life, not just survive it.
I enjoy the complexity of working with chronic issues.
Every case is a new challenge, no two people are living the same story and I continue to learn from every single person
that walks into my office.