Mary Ellen Wells
Originally from the East Coast, I always knew that I wanted to help people. From volunteering in high school with Special Olympics and at the local hospital, I went on to graduate with my physical therapy degree from Boston University.
In my twenties, as a young physical therapist, I developed chronic back pain. When traditional physical therapy didn’t help me, I studied CranioSacral Therapy at the Upledger Institute and learned Myofascial Release techniques. These very gentle hands-on techniques helped greatly and allowed my sensitive nervous system to slow down and begin to heal. This experience paved the way for me to open my own private practice in Boston so others could experience the same benefits.
Although the hands-on work was useful, I was still limited physically. I tried to exercise and found that conventional exercise flared up my pain. I studied movement disciplines such as Feldenkrais, Alexander, Continuum, and Authentic Movement and began using these principles myself, and to teach movement to my patients. Although my patients responded well, I felt there was something missing- for them and for me. After 10 years of private practice in Boston, I decided to relocate to California to study in a movement-based expressive arts program at Tamalpa Institute. Here I learned ways to integrate the pain, instead of pushing it away. I stopped searching for an answer to my pain, and began to open to the experience of it, allowing its expression through art and movement. It was liberating to stop “fighting”. In response, my muscles relaxed. Although the movement felt wonderful, I was still lacking strength and endurance.
I had always shied away from Pilates as I found the exercises too strenuous and difficult to perform with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. But I was committed to getting stronger and learning new techniques to help my patients. I tentatively took a few “seniors” classes that were taught by a physical therapist. When I truly learned to listen to my body and modify the Pilates repertoire to my ability, it opened up a whole new world for me. I progressed at a pace that was right for me, stumbling along the way, overdoing it at times, and backing off at others. I started to enjoy exercising and felt the benefits immediately. For the first time, I was excited about exercise!
I received my Mat Certification from Tone in Santa Rosa in 2008 and began using these principles in my work and when teaching Pilates Mat classes. I am now much stronger than I ever thought possible and look forward to “working out” even though I have never been a “gym” person. During my seven years at Sebastopol Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio, I learned to incorporate the Pilates apparatus into my work.
I continue to add skills to my work that I believe bring tremendous benefit to my clients:
* Pilates for Osteoporosis
* APPI trainings (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute)
* Pilates Rehabilitation for Women with Breast Cancer
I now enjoy practicing out of my home in Windsor, California. I am passionate about helping people feel greater ease and more vitality in their bodies. I integrate physical therapy and Pilates, use Craniosacral and Myofascial Release techniques when needed, and am living my lifelong passion of helping others to help themselves. Mary Ellen