We were thrilled to spend some time with wellness pioneer Erika Bloom, learning more about her wellness journey and how she was called to movement-based healing. She also gives some practical tips on how to improve your every day well being, how to strengthen your feet and much more. Get more information on her Method & Memberships at Erikabloom.com.
How did your wellness journey begin?
I grew up in a science minded family that valued food as medicine, from-the-earth eating, and time in nature. But during my time as a professional dancer, I struggled with chronic injury and autoimmune disease issues. This began my journey of studying the body--learning and certifying in many fields of healing, bodywork, movement, and nutrition. I found enormous relief, thriving health which led me to bringing this holistic approach to others.
What were some of the key events in your life that led you deeper into healing with movement?
Each time I faced a change or a falling back in my health, I was able to turn to movement-based healing to restore myself. It began with injury from dance, digestive issues, pain from autoimmune, and migraines. Movement work provided lasting relief. After retiring from dance, I used the work to remedy my bunions and hammertoes from point work and to keep myself strong and flexible. Upon launching my first studio in 2003, I experienced the process of guiding so many clients and seeing first-hand the positive changes to their whole system. Movement remained a pillar for daily calm, centering, and connection. I turned to it to prepare my body for natural childbirth and to recover postpartum. Now I rely on it to prevent physical decline as I age, keeping my body mobile, strong, and functioning well.
What specifically drew you into Pilates and how has it changed your life?
Pilates is a method that respects the natural biomechanics of the human body. It educates the nervous system, keeps the spine supple and expanded, improves lymph flow and circulation, addresses joint support and range of motion, and balances the all-important fascial system. Its breath centered approach and the deep focus it requires patterns our bodies and minds in ways that change how we move through our life. I have felt profound moments of trauma release, honed a deep connection to my body, and corrected physical and emotional patterning that doesn’t serve me any more using modalities such as Pilates, Feldenkrais, Bartenieff, Franklin, Klein, Pilates, Zero Balancing, and Structural Integration which later became the Erika Bloom Wellness Method’s Essential Movement practice. The way that it strengthens while also keeping the body healthy with any condition, at any age, makes it my lifelong daily practice. For both myself and my clients it is a must for staying healthy and balanced.
What are some things you look forward to in your self care routine that have helped improve your everyday well being?
Breath work is an essential, hugely beneficial daily practice for me. Connecting to breath brings deep calm to my somatic connection. “Soma” means “of the body” and focuses on the true mind-body connection. The patterns of the deep core during proper breathing provides centering and strength while supporting ideal digestion, immunity, and mood. I also take a daily session of Essential Movement at Erika Bloom Wellness Method with one of my amazing teachers- it’s an essential for me.
When it comes to the body, we’re especially interested in the feet. They hold us up and ground us and take on so much throughout the day. What are some common issues you see with the feet and what are some simple exercises we can do at home or on the go to improve foot health?
How our feet touch the earth, how they connect as we stand, how they move as we walk, affects our entire body. The feet need a balance of stability and mobility for proper biomechanics. Their biomechanics change our alignment, how we activate muscles, and our range of motion through our entire body. This affects musculoskeletal health and physical ability and tone, but it also affects deeper systems like circulation, immunity, and digestion. With any issue in the body, it can be healing to address the feet.
Rolling out the feet with a ball and then stretching the toes open with your hands can release tightness. For strength, lift and spread the toes while activating the arch of the foot in standing. Once your gait is analyzed in a one-on-one session (all Erika Bloom instructors are trained in gait analysis), then you can be given personalized corrective foot practices for your individual imbalances.
We've heard that it's a good practice to elevate your feet / put them up a wall at the end of the day. Is that something you would recommend & why?
Legs Up the Wall is a calming practice that is wonderful for dropping the nervous system in to a state of rest and digest. It lengthens the back line fascia that comes all the way down around the heel into the sole of the foot thereby improving functionality of the feet and even the pelvis and low back. For many people that sit all day in an office, the inversion of the legs can feel good for circulation and lymph flow. It is a pose that gives a moment to unload the spine, connect to the breath, and find calm and centering.
Barefoot or shoes when working out? What are the benefits to being barefoot and how important is the right footwear if you are wearing shoes during a workout?
Barefoot! We want to feel our feet, use our feet, and respect the foot's need to both release and engage. As the knees bend the arch should spread and drop and as they straighten it should engage and dome. The talus, the deep bone above the heel, should be able to glide and rotate. The heel should be able to tilt. This rhythm of the foot and ankle currents up into proper biomechanics of the knees, hips, and spine. Overly supportive shoes, or not doing barefoot work, restrict movement and discourage engagement, making them both weak and tight and disconnecting them from the body’s natural patterns.
Now that we've covered everything feet - What are some of the ways people can try out your Method and learn more about your full offerings?
We offer private one-on-one personalized sessions in our studios in NYC (Tribeca and Upper East Side), in the Hamptons (Year Round Watermill Studio l & Montauk Summer Pop-Ups), in Los Angeles (Brentwood), and in Turks and Caicos (Amanyara Resort), as well as in homes throughout NYC, LA, and The Hamptons. You can email email@example.com to schedule. We also have a Digital Membership (www.erikabloomdigital.com) that allows you to heal and strengthen with our method at home. It includes a library of pre-recorded content of movement, wellness, and nutrition as well as live classes. Our live classes include two-way interaction so you can receive personalized corrections, ask any questions about health, wellness, and the body, and receive real guidance from me and my amazing team of experts.
You recently opened a new studio in TriBeca and have so many exciting things going on. What's one thing that's currently lighting you up and making you feel inspired?
I love being in my home neighborhood of Tribeca and being able to support and work with this community. Seeing clients move through our program and experience so many positive changes in their bodies is so rewarding. It’s also been so amazing to be on the Digital Membership and reach people all over the world.