Inverting the body has been a part of most of our childhoods and though perhaps strenuous is very natural. Unfortunately like other very natural movements, it seems to gradually disappear from our repertoire as we age. Inverted postures are a standby of many yoga traditions and there has been a recent movement to add slings to this practice so that inversions can be more accessible to the less advanced students. Inversion therapy using “gravity boots” tables and chairs has also been around a long time and got its 15 minutes of fame back in the 1980’s when Richard Gere used one to the silver screen.


Torio helps me open up my flank as I hang in mid-air (the yellow cord belongs to the pulley that hoisted me).

HangUp is bodywork that employs hanging freely inverted by the ankles. A delicate winch suspended from a hand crafted “Pyramid” helps the therapist do the job. I wanted to try it because I am use a small amount of inversion in the Sofa or couch shiatsu idea to encourage good venous return and I wondered what the more intense inversion experience would be like. For me it was a bit like tipping the scales or letting the sand cascade to the other side of the hour glass. It was so intense for me that I had very few thoughts beyond simply hanging there.

But this is where a guide is important. Marvin Torio Bauer provided a meditative atmosphere both within and without for the exploration and after an initial grounding in a supine position is an able pilot for the bottoms up position. He gave very precise, informative and reassuring instructions regarding the flight ahead and added a bit of humor. Though my personal focus was just on trying to relax and overcome my doubt that the “pyramid” would support my ample corpulence, Torio was able to take me through the process and add the element of therapeutic touch, an element missing from gravity boots, inversion tables and yoga classes.

Generally, it seems, people tend to gravitate (pun intended) to inversion therapy to combat low back pain. I personally did not feel any special relief by the spinal decompression but I was very intrigued by the effects of the hanging on my abdominals, my psoas and the muscles around my ribcage. The gentle twists that Torio gave my body while inverted were particularly good for me as they seemed to address the liver and gall bladder meridians in a special way. I would also have to note that since then I have become more greatly aware of the sloshing around of the fluid in the fascial sacks within my body in a way that I never was before. All-in-all HangUp with Torio Bauer was a memorable experience and one that I can definitely recommend.

Contact “Herz Uber Kopf,” Torio Bauer and Dora Moser at: hangab@gmx.ch or an SMS an +41 (0)76 238 02 29 to give it a try.

Measure Up!

Having abandoned all but the mirror for monitoring my weight, uncertainty has made me weary. The mirror is consistent but the mind is not. In the cell phone app era, keeping track can be fun but distracting so I decided several months ago to abandon Fitbit and Co for the 19th century. But I’ve put a few pounds back on. Having lost weight and seeking to maintain that loss I have to think/go deeper.  The habit energies that lead to gaining weight have only been interrupted. Moving more, counting calories, fasting are just interventions. Keeping track is still necessary but I really want it to be unobtrusive yet precise. I still need to measure up.

The tape measure is a good next step.  I have a scale but I’ll better ignore it and you should too. The only real measurement required is the waist to height ratio. The waistline should be half of your height. For me at 1 m 84 cm the magic number is 92cm. If we can keep this measure well, most of the metabolic work is done. Stronger, faster and more flexible are built on this base. If you’re not headed to Uncle Drewdom you can at least feel happy about all disease risk factors you’ve minimized with this single number.  If you want more data with attendant ease, measure hips, thighs and chest in that order of importance.

Use of the clock can also help. No longer a luxury, clocks are everywhere to be found and, unlike when I was a child, they’re accurate too. Use a feeding window. If you require tighter control decrease the size of the window. What’s a feeding window? It’s a predetermined period of time within which you’re allowed to eat. Shortening the window will make you suffer but you determine the dose. I’ve heard of studies that have determined that the ideal period of not eating is about 13 hours. But that is with is zero caloric intake, a long row to hoe. Try water and teas until midday and stop eating by 8 pm to start, an eight hour window, and go from there. This means not eating for 16 hours with the hopes that 13 of those are truly calorie free.  I’m currently struggling with the 8 hour window, winter seems to do that, my magic number is at 95, but things are not yet out of hand.

Using a feeding window is easy and interesting because you can just play with the window size while eating completely as you wish.  I don’t recommend that necessarily (eating absolutely any and everything but for some it’s possible) but you will eventually find a window size that allows you to maintain your weight. If you are past 35 and have had your last children then an ancestral diet is the best choice for what to eat during your window if you want to stop aging but more about that in another post.

The clock and the tape measure are good additions to the mirror for monitoring your weight.  The mirror and the clock can be used daily; the tape measure weekly. The feeling you should cultivate is the regularity of dental hygiene. What I meant earlier by saying that we need to go deeper means, in this case, to work directly with the basal habit energy.  You want to grow the base of a high level of physical performance hygienically. Like throwing a pitch or learning a scale on the flute you want to ingrain good habits down into your marrow. If you never reach the pinnacle of performance you at least build the base of longevity by establishing good habits at the level of your basal ganglia.

Try ingraining simple floor exercises, sofa shiatsu and the feeding window in this way (so that they feel like brushing your teeth or a morning shower) to see if you develop a level of awareness that makes it easy to guide your use of interventions like periodic fasts, saunas, strength training, plyometrics and so on. We’ve lost the bulk of the weight now so let’s build a base for performance!