Be Authentic! B-E- Authentic!!

“I eat what I feel like eating. If people could see the way I live-smoking, drinking, loving – they wouldn’t believe it. Loving! Without it you are dead.” Joseph Pilates

My inner voice is a cheerleader. It’s taunted me all my life. When I feel my natural wall flower self hiding its that damn peppy Cheerleader who steps up and pushes me forward. The ironic thing about this is that in high school, and years later, I molded myself after those dark isolated souls like Ally Sheedy’s character in the Breakfast Club and Samantha Mathis in Pump Up the Volume.

We all have these inner voices and personalities. They are part of us. The shadow parts that we need to integrate but also they are the voices that remind us to stay true to ourselves. In my case this annoying peppy girl is forcing me to step forward and be seen. I know it is crazy in this “selfie world” but I do not actually love the spotlight. I mean I love to dabble in it but not in a consistent way where I actually need to be photographed or put on video. So I am embracing it anyway, putting myself out there. Being vulnerable and as authentic as I know how. there will be haters….I mean aren’t there always. But hopefully there will be people who see, hear and listen to what I put out into the world and relate and become inspired so that they too can heal and shed those masks.

A week ago I posted to my Instagram a photo of me doing Teaser. I was honest about myself in that moment and I made a commitment to myself that I would no longer put myself on hold as I waited for the perfect time, perfect weight, perfect angle and perfect photo. The message I have for the world is not really for the world but for those who can hear or see themselves in it. I am not for everyone but I do believe there are some people out there that can hear or see what I do and see themselves in that. There are a lot of things I wish were different in my life but if I wait for all those things to be perfect I will miss out on the living things. So I am beginning now to put myself out there in my imperfect way and grow with all of you as we follow that path together and hopefully end up in the place we are meant to be.

Mind: Get out of your way and just do that thing. What are you afraid of. I bet if you voiced it to someone else they would look at you like you confused. Most of the time our fear is imagined and grows over time into the monster under our bed. When we voice that fear to others they can’t fathom it because it normally does not match their judgments of us. For me it is being seen. Being in front of a camera. Being live on any stage, on any platform.

Spirit: If we can step into our true way of being, our most authentic self we can finally allow our spirit to join our earthly bodies. We can acknowledge that energy in ourselves and live a life we are meant to have.

Body:

TEASER : It is all about balance and strength and giving up the perfection

  1. Begin on your back with knees bent and feet flat
  2. Bring your legs to table top position (45-degree angle)
  3. Exhale: Nod your head slightly and begin scooping your abdominal muscles in and up rolling your torso off the mat. Reach your arms toward your legs while keeping the shoulders down.
  4. Inhale at the top and widening your collarbone, lift your eyes and feel length and energy travel through your spine from your sitz bones through your crown
  5. Exhale to roll down. Control with your abdominals

 

 

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If only we had something to fill the hole

“Breathing is the first act of life and the last.”

– Joseph Pilates

Death and loss are unavoidable and yet it is a topic many of us avoid. It is dark and uncomfortable and filled with sorrow, and yet it is inevitable that we will all feel it at some point and we will eventually all die. Already while writing I am finding myself all kids of distractions and avoidances because it is not a topic most people love to explore. But what if we changed our idea about death and grief. What if we chose to sit with it and its uncomfortable cloud instead of trying to fix and change it into something more pleasurable. My idea of death and grief transformed the most when my ex-boyfriend and father to my child died. The process was long; not sudden. It was the after effect that was most interesting. The inability for some to sit with the pain. Not just their pain but mine. The looks and greeting asking for permission to release them and let them know I would be happy and able to cope without them. Like I had a tangy molasses that would drag them in. In my grief I understood the pain of loss, dreams of what could have been and the movie of what had happened. I allowed myself to feel it and be in it and learned from it.

Death is a process and we all need to go through it, but our relationship to it can change. Each year my daughter’s teacher asks the class to write something about themselves that  the teacher should know. Each year she writes,”My dad died and I hate when people say I’m sorry.” The funny thing about this is she has been writing the same thing since she was 5. The amazing thing is most adults feel the same but can’t express it so clearly.

So what do we do if we can not say” I’m sorry” and remove our sense of awkwardness around those who are grieving. I now don’t really say much. I speak my truth. I say, “I don’t know what to do or say because nothing fills that void and makes it OK.” And then I let them lead. I be there. I crack inappropriate jokes (especially about death). I try to be as normal as possible while also being honest. Death sucks. It is uncomfortable. It is dark and awkward. So let’s not cover it up and try to pretend we will all be OK.

Truthfully we will and do get through it. Often we grow and see the world better. Sometimes we create blessings and positive things from grief. But none of that changes the core pain we felt or feel that still comes in bursts without warning at the stupidest and most inappropriate times. But that is what is beautiful also because we allow ourselves to feel it. The good, the bad and the awkward.

Mind: Grief after loss is normal and healthy, but if it seems to intensify or linger without change it is best to seek out professional help. During the phase of grief often it feels like a dark tunnel or cave and it is difficult to imagine a future where we would feel light or happy. When grief continues without change we may withdraw from people or events, become depressed and isolate ourselves from the world.

Body: Grief will show up most obviously in our chests, more specifically near our hearts. The body may become stiff or concave with the shoulders moving forward in an act of protection. Our thoracic spine and upper back will become weak and overstretched as we curl forward to protect the heart from additional injury.

Spirit: During grief we tend to isolate and go within. It seems that our spirit would also close but in some cases as we go within we also can connect and communicate on a deeper level with our spirit. In these instances we can grow and move forward through grief. Other ways of connection during this time are through music and meditation or breath. Sometimes movement and physical exercises seems daunting and distant but the use of music helps to raise our emotional and spiritual energy while our bodies remain passive.

EXERCISE: Cobra and Swan Pose

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  1.  Lie face down. Bring your hands under your shoulders with bent elbows.
    Place legs together or shoulder-width apart.
  2. Engage your abdominals and keep them engaged and lifted throughout the exercise.
  3. Inhale: Lengthen your spine, as you press your forearms and hands into the mat. Keep upper arms outwardly rotated to allow openness in the chest.
  4. Exhale: Keep your abdominals lifted as your torso returns to the mat.

Benefits: opens heart, clears the mind, increases flexibility, stimulates circulatory and lymphatic systems.

 

 

May I Speak Up?…

“The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.” 
— Joseph Pilates

I don’t always listen to podcasts, but I have made a point this year of listening to Jenna Zaffino on Pilates Unfiltered. If you have no interest in Pilates it may not be of interest but I find her on point with so much. One of the big things she has repeated this year is that “She has something to say”. Those words ring so true, not just to me but to so many of us. We all have something to say so why are we holding back. What is blocking us from speaking up or speaking our truth?

Major news right now is the #MeToo movement. So many women have posted their hashtag and perhaps shared an experience. It is so important to share and strip away the shame that comes with abuse of power. There have been many days where I was feeling confident and the comments from a male on the street or at work have stripped the confidence away. It feels like a lock in the chest. I recently felt this at my last apartment with my super who abused his power by texting me inappropriately all hours of the day, asking why I was single and commenting on how good I look (in front of my child). It is a struggle we deal with daily. It is common place but it is not OK. I love that so many women are standing up. I think that we also need to support each other as women. The power struggle is not always between men and women sometimes it is also with the same sex. I have also experienced power struggles with women. Sometimes this shows up as jealousy and sometimes it shows up in authority (with a supervisor or teacher). The problem arises when you allow someone to create the feeling of “I am not good enough”.

When you easily give over your power you then become powerless. Sometimes it seems easier than confrontation, sometimes the rage and anger radiating from another person can push us to shut down and become subordinate. This happens. It still happens to me and I am aware of it. But don’t shut yourself down. When it happens, acknowledge it and simply state in your mind I take my power back, you do not have control over me and send their energy back to them. Recently this happened to me and I held onto it longer than needed. Finally at night I was able to sit in meditation and visualize the daggers that I saw coming into my field and I plucked each one out, turned them into daisies and showered them onto the person who through them toward me.  It is a day to day practice. The world as we know it is not established on equality and each day we need to acknowledge when we try to use our Power to control others or when we give it away.

Mind: It is important to explore your connection to shame. Shame is not real – it is our perception of real events that we interpret on an emotional and physical level to mean something significant. What one person finds shameful will not always be the same from person to person. As children we begin to build our associations to the world and what is “right” or “wrong” and it is at this point that we begin to be taught what is shameful (to be hidden) and what is acceptable. For some people showing off the nude body is beautiful and acceptable and to many in the Western world it is something we are taught to hide. It is important that we first start with acknowledging what we find shameful in our own lives and then begin to strip the stigma by speaking out. For instance if you are ashamed of being naked in front of people (or even in a swim suit in public) I am not saying to strip down and walk the streets of NYC but perhaps simply saying out loud that you are afraid. Begin to explore where these ideas of covering up came from and speak about them. Some culture believe in fully covering their body but the difference is this is not done out of shame it is done out of respect. It is important to understand your own ideas and not project judgement onto others that you perceive may be like you.

Body: There are two areas of the body at play with issues of Power. One is near the Solar Plexus. This is where you may feel like you were kicked in the gut, sick to your stomach, or even sensitivity if someone has scolded or dominated you. You may also feel pain or discomfort in your throat or neck if you held back from speaking up for yourself or others. “I wish I had said…” I should have said…”. In both instances you have blocked your energy and diminished your Power.

Spirit: The spirit is most free when we are honest. If you do resonate with holding blocks in your body either your throat or solar plexus simply acknowledging this and being truthful to yourself, honoring yourself is freeing for the spirit. I love visualization but any form of release will work to release some of these strings thrown at us in a Power struggle. Writing and movement can also be powerful.

Exercises:

Belly Breathing

  1. Inhale through your nose feeling a full expansion in your abdomen. Having one hand on your stomach will help as you will feel it move outward.
  2. On your exhale, tighten your stomach muscles feeling your hand contract in toward your spine
  3. I also find it helpful to practice this lying down on the floor with your knees bent or with your back against a wall in a sitting position.
  4. Continue this exercise for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Sun Salutation Series

  1. Mountain pose: stand aligned with both feet flat on floor, abdominals engaged, and eyes focused forward
  2. Raise arms to your side bringing them over head with palms together
  3. Forward Fold: Reach arms away from each other and toward your side as you hinge at hips (bending knees if needed) bringing your torso toward your thighs
  4. Reach torso halfway up
  5. Plank pose: Step feet back to come to plank pose, hands under shoulders, abdominals engaged, legs straight, eyes focused forward with a long neck
  6. Chaturanga: (option always to bend knees in this pose) Shift forward to toes, bend elbows while keeping wrists and elbow aligned
  7. Upward Facing Dog: Tops of your feet will press into the floor, lifting your thighs off the floor (or option to keep thighs active but on the floor). Bring your chest forward and straighten your arms continue to engage your abdominals lifting the navel upward. Keep your collar bone wide, chest forward, neck long and eyes focused upward.
  8. Downward Facing Dog: Lift your hips and work to press the soles of your feet into the floor (your heels may be off the floor). Press down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine (sometimes it helps to bend the knees to feel more length in the spine. Open your chest toward the feet and focus your eyes between your feet.

Pilates Version of above on the Reformer: PlankUpstretch and Downstretch series

 

 

The man behind the mask

“Decide to remain true to yourself.”   Joseph Pilates

Each week I wake up expecting the world to be put right and some hope to shine through, but each day seems to be another natural or human created catastrophe. The world is like the mother we look to who mirrors what we should feel. In this case the mother is falling apart. So how do we as the children interpret life and move forward safely finding the freedom to explore and play with who we are and who we want to be?

When my child was in 2nd grade the school continuously mentioned the end of childhood was near. The notion of childhood coming to an end at age 7 was preposterous, and it boggled my mind. Looking at this in a bigger perspective it makes sense and mirrors out world right now. At age 7 a child begins to move away from the parent and more toward their peers. They mirror those around them and begin to internalize the judgements of those children around them. As parents we no longer are their center of strength and reason. It is in this new place of uncertainty with a new sense of independence that we begin to learn if we are important to others in our Universe. Are we seen? Are we funny? Do we fit in? Are we judged? Are we accepted? Rarely can we stand securely in our authentic self with certainty of who we are. The normal child begins to try on masks and see which one feels best.

As adults hopefully, we are secure enough to finally take off that mask and stand in our true Power. What I have found so far is it is a process of hiding, uncovering, discovering, hiding and re-appearing. Slowly pealing away the masks of our childhood.

Mind: Speaking our truth is our basic right. Our truth is just that – ours. And yet we are so quick to allow others to judge and insert doubt causing us to lose faith in our own opinions and ideas. When we build masks and hide from our authentic self or hide our true self from other people we become inhibited and slowly dull our light.

Body: When we restrict our truth and our voices from speaking out due to fear of being judged or harmed we hold this energy in our body. It shows up as stress in the throat, neck, shoulders, and mouth. We can either talk too much or not at all, either way we are not being heard.

Spirit: Sound is a vibration of energy that can not be seen but we know exists. Similar to this there is a energetic field surrounding each of us. Our goal in seeking our truth is finding harmony or resonance. We need to learn to communicate with the energetic vibration in and outside of our bodies as well as each other and the world. We also need to remember that communication is both speaking and being heard while also listening without judgement. It is an open flow and not one direction.

Exercises

  • The best way to move energy in the throat is through sound, singing, OM chanting, humming, and breath
  • Front Splits on the reformer (can also be done on the mat as Crescent Lunge)

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Why? The lunge when done with arms extended upward or behind the head will open the chest while also keeping the abdominals engaged and alignment in place. This exercise is a great stretch for the front of the body and can also help align the neck and shoulders.

Other Exercises for opening the throat, neck and shoulders

Swan

Bridge Pose

Camel Pose

Short Spine

This is not the way I thought it would be …

“Everyone is the architect of his own happiness” Joseph Pilates

I was certified in Pilates in 2002. It was a different era and there were few certification programs to choose from. Things have changed and the world of Pilates has also changed. I’m still figuring out how I fit in. I am lucky in that my training was off the beaten path of tradition and during the same time I was also working toward a career in Art Therapy. I played with both and eventually combined them and used tools from each when it felt needed. I never felt solid in being a Pilates instructor because I did not stick to straight Pilates movement in sessions, and today I push those boundaries even more. The industry is changing. In some ways it allows for more freedom and in other ways it seems to be ready to burst into pieces. I am inspired by all the ways instructors and studios have developed to stay fresh and alive during this transition.

I have not fully stepped into my new way of woking in the industry, but I am close to embracing it. What I have decided is that I will not compete out of Fear. I will not judge and steal and knock others down who appear to have more or be more. I will not act on impulse and fear. This too seems to be growing. This fear of each other taking from us. The copying, stealing of clients and marketing, the judgements, and speaking negatively about others in our field is breaking us down.

This is what I know. In NYC the fear is real. Small studios are being eaten up and put out of business by larger industries who can market memberships, unlimited packages and Groupon deals. New instructors are certified every day and looking for work which while amazing is also flooding the business. To survive in this market we need to be all things at all times…healer, social media mavens, influencers (who knew this was a thing), celebrity trainers, models and the list is endless. It creates havoc, burn out and mainly a cycle of fear where we can easily lose our focus and get swallowed up.

But as instructors we also have a great power in our hands and bodies and that is the power of Pilates. I may not be classical and who really knows if I am contemporary at this point but I do still believe in the foundation of Pilates.

I will trust in myself and where the Universe is taking me.

I will ground. I will breathe. I will move. I will flow.

Mind: Fear is our go to when we feel our security is at risk. It is not always real. Obviously it serves its purpose. If a bear were to jump out of the woods our fear instinct would help us to blow that bear horn we like to carry around, but in our day to day existence it tends to create more drama that is based in untruths. Our job then is t sit back and evaluate before reacting to the stress. As a self employed person teaching Pilates the reality of decreasing clients and income is real but my reaction to it is choice and sometimes unconsciously created. My trigger is money. The fear of not having enough. But for someone else it may mean not having a stable studio or home. It may be training new clients every day. It may be feeling overwhelmed by the higher demand of multi tasking the administrative work that comes with the job these days. For each of us the stressor is different but the feeling is the same…fear.

Body: Fear can show up in different ways in our bodies. One common body symptom is rigidity. In the moment of fear we tense our bodies. This is a normal and primal fear response. Over time this creates tightness in our bodies that may become chronic if not addressed. We may also become tired. Both reactions can be changed by movement or postures.

Spirit: When we are grounded and balanced we feel safe and secure even when the world as we know it is spinning into chaos. Our choices and actions come from a grounded place within us and we feel in our cells that we are moving and acting in the way that is “right” for us.

What you can do to find balance and grounding in times of fear

Mountain Pose

  • stand with your feet solid on the ground (barefeet is best) feel the big toe, little toe and heel of each foot on the floor
  • Begin to align your body from the feet up, feeling the legs , hips pelvic floor, spine, ribs, arms, shoulders, neck and head all finding their place in the line.
  • Do not feel rigid but instead as you breathe feel the breath filling up your entire torso and spine and as you exhale release all that does not serve and grow taller

Dance

Walk outside barefooted 

 

 

 

 

Day becomes night….and we move

Today is the Solar Eclipse in the United States. For centuries there has been excitement around the eclipse and how to view it or if we should view it at all. Some cultures believe it is a time to go within and to be still, at least for the time that the sky goes dark. There are two philosophies around this. One is out of fear that the sun is being taken away by negative forces. The other is that the sun and moon are in intimate alignment and like most lovers this is a personal and spiritual time that we should allow its own space and privacy. For many people the eclipse is a fascinating scientific phenomenon and many of us can not wait to view it or at least be a small part of this natural moment of awe. I suggest reading Susan Miller and Mystic Mamma who have intriguing and knowledgeable astrological information about eclipses and specifically about the solar eclipse happening today.

What I have read so far follows what I have been reading and experiencing for years now. That the world is changing and a new way is happening. I remember hearing about this shift when I was younger in books and through adults. At the time it sounded scary as if the world would end, but reality is not as abrupt. As a planet we have all to different degrees been forced to make a choice. We either are moving forward toward a collective awakening and healing or fighting to remain as is without change. Either way life will be uncomfortable to some degree and eclipses tend to heighten that feeling.

The best solution if you can put it into practice is to let go of old ideas. Not to say let go of goals or dreams if you have been actively working on them but maybe allow a new way to work come through. Or if you find you have hit a wall, lost a job, broken up again or had a loss of some kid try again but perhaps use a new technique, look for a job outside your field or date a different type. Just see what happens and try a new way. Take a new path to work or school. Try a new routine

Pilates Principle : Flowing Movement

Today practice your Pilates or exercise routine in a conscious flow. What do I mean by this? from the beginning to the end practice a non-stop smooth and controlled movement. Make each transition from one exercise to the other important. Move from your center, remember your breath and alignment and practice smooth movements. Visualize yourself as a dancer.

Mind: Awareness a.k.a. Mindfulness, is simply bringing mental awareness to our daily body patterns including breathing, muscle tension and posture thus re-training the body. Awareness can also bring us to a new level of understanding and appreciation in our life and world. Becoming aware of our misaligned patterns in our body can allow us to heal our body but the same can be said for those misaligned patterns in life. Awareness is not acceptance it is acknowledging that we have places in us that need growth and change.

  1. Body: Today I am asking that you approach your workout in a new way. Flow and bring awareness to each movement and each transition. Do not stop and put your hands on your hips. Check in if you are checking out (taking repeated breaks, stopping for water every exercise). Today we will bring fire to out routine.
  2. Mind: Create each movement consciously. Sometimes in life we being a workout or a walk and before we know it we are done. Often (as I know I am guilty of this) we celebrate how quickly that went by. In most cases we do not remember the walk or the workout because we were checked out. Today I want you to check in. Be present. Articulate each movement with intention and make those transitions between exercises count.
  3. Spirit: Often times what holds us back from moving forward is Fear. In most instances Fear is created in our ego. It is not created in our soul and is not who we truly are. Today I ask that you practice acknowledging that fear and that ego and working past it. Today follow your heart not your head.

Precision Exercise:

In addition to Pilates I am also trained in Power Yoga. I do not often teach yoga although I do incorporate it in my Pilates teaching. When I am at home I tend to gravitate toward practicing yoga more than Pilates mainly because it is far away from my critical work mind. I can flow and be truly me in a yoga practice because it is not what I am being paid for. During one of my yoga training we were practicing a 45 minute flow class. From beginning to end we would do each asana but only for 5 breaths until ending in savasana. It brings the heat and forces the mind to settle.

Today I am asking that you choose a workout routine and do it for 30-45 minutes. If it is yoga or Pilates do each movement for 5 breaths and move on. If you are doing something like running or walking concentrate on the pattern of your breath and make it more dynamic. Acknowledge when you stop or mentally check out.

Today flow, bring the heat, create consciously!

 

 

Sometimes the world is a whirlpool

To be honest sitting here trying to piece together a blog post about Pilates seems a bit mundane in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, VA, which is really just an acknowledgement of how backwards our society is moving. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and grief. I often wonder how much impact I can have when I am not one of the brave representing my country or on the front lines of daily protests. My trauma research has taught me that it is the inability to act that contributes to the residual effects on the body. As soon as action is put into motion healing can begin. This idea can be helpful in these circumstances as well, when we feel like we are on the sidelines feeling helpless.

When life becomes overwhelming and we feel as if we are being sucked into the whirlpool there are small things we can do to live and make a difference. As we have learned (hopefully) by now, change does not happen with one big event it happens with several people doing small things. Teaching our children to be nice to others and putting these lessons into practice. Educate our children and ourselves. Accept that we all have lessons we can learn and we all need to begin listening to our neighbor’s stories. Doing what we can to follow our passions and paths because when we shine others have permission to shine as well. Putting our anger, helplessness and frustration into movement can allow us to grow and change and in turn can begin to change our environment and world.

And, “yes” Pilates seems to be a frivolous practice but it is also a practical guide to keeping sane in our insane times. Physical movement can help us release the energy we would otherwise store in our bodies that would possibly become anxiety and stress in later days. Taking action can be simply putting our body in motion. Take a Pilates or Yoga class and actually speak to your neighbor on the mat nearest you. Action begins with small steps and opening the door to communication seems to me the easiest way to begin.

PRECISION every movement has a purpose

  1. Body: Precision is a Pilates Principle. Each movement is done with awareness of each part of the body, alignment and body placement.
  2. Mind: Awareness a.k.a. Mindfulness, is simply bringing mental awareness to our daily body patterns including breathing, muscle tension and posture thus re-training the body. Awareness can also bring us to a new level of understanding and appreciation in our life and world. Becoming aware of our misaligned patterns in our body can allow us to heal our body but the same can be said for those misaligned patterns in life. Awareness is not acceptance it is acknowledging that we have places in us that need growth and change.
  3. Spirit:Bringing awareness and precision into our movements makes us accountable to being present. When we are truly present it is difficult to hide behind a mask or excuse away actions. We become more authentic which shows up in both our bodies, our diets and our interactions with others.

Precision Exercise:

A year or so ago I signed up for a mindful painting class. I made it to only a handful of classes but I took away with me some great techniques.

Walking meditation

It took me several attempts to appreciate sitting meditation, but walking meditation always made sense. It is also a great way to practice proper gait alignment and work the feet.

  1. This is practice silently, eyes open but passive and no music
  2. Bring your attention first to your feet. Feel both feet solid on the floor or ground. I practice this both barefoot and with shoes.
  3. Continue to bring awareness to your feet and begin to slowly walk moving through each foot fully before going on to the next foot. Feel the heel, arch, ball of the foot and toes.
  4. Keep your mind present on your walking. It may help to count to repeat a mantra or to visualize your feet moving. Bring the awareness completely to your feet and moving fully through each foot. If you feel pain, stiffness simply acknowledge it but try not to fix or analyze.
  5. Continue this exercise 15-30 minutes

Every movement and exercise routine we participate can be done with intention and mindfulness. When we begin to practice awareness it is difficult to ignore that other people exist, that we are not the only being on the planet and our actions (no matter how small) do impact the world one ripple at a time.

 

 

When life throws you balls…catch them or duck

“Every moment of our lives can be the beginning of great things.” Joseph Pilates

If you notice above the date is not a Monday. I had high hopes that these blogs would be posted every Monday, but ahhh life. Transition and change seem to be all around me. This time the news is good but the anxiety is still high. Several months back I applied for affordable housing, Tuesday I was approved, Wednesday I signed my lease and Monday I will move. I have lived at my current apartment on and off for 21 years. My daughter, now 10, has only known this apartment. I have so much to sort and pack and yet I can not seem to motivate. And so I breathe deep.

I know I am not alone in this. Sometimes amazing opportunities, especially when we have dreamed about them for so long, can effect us the same as daunting and unwanted opportunities. The body does not always discern the difference. What I have found (as hard as it is to master) is that our approach to extreme change in our life needs to be conscious action. I will force myself to move, to meditate and to write. I find I repeat throughout the day “breathe” and “get grounded” because when I am faced with fear my mind races, my heart pounds and I tend to drink too much caffeine which makes it all worse. In these moments I am not in my body (or my right mind) and as soon as I can get grounded I can also get focused and deal with life.

And so whether you choose to face your big life transitions head on, close your eyes and duck or allow it to hit you in the head life happens and the best defense is to get grounded.

GROUND

  1. Body: Centering is a Pilates Principle. It refers to our “powerhouse” center which incorporates the abdomen, low back, hips and glutes and is the core of where energy for each exercise originates. Having a strong center will support and release tension in your spine. When this happens we can also find calm.
  2. Mind: Grounding brings our attention into our body. When we do this we immediate feel connected to our earth and our self. In times of stress I often feel disconnect and light headed. It is in these times I know I need to ground myself or fly away.
  3. Spirit: Grounding into our body connects our conscious and unconscious. When this happens we can feel more energized but also we can see clearly and achieve perspective on life. When we feel this connection it is easier to Be in life and to make a difference in the life we have chosen. Today I have chosen to include a meditation and talk with Tara Brach. It is long but even if you simply follow the opening meditation I believe it will help you find a deeper presence in your body. Tara Brach “Presence”

Grounding Exercise:

Today I have several grounding tips. The main point is to take a moment to connect to your body.

Pilates grounding and centering before beginning a workout:

  1. Lie on you back with knees bent, eyes closed
  2. Bring your attention to your spine, visualize each vertebrae beginning at the skull and working downward to the tailbone. As you breathe visualize each vertebrae releasing into the mat.
  3. Feel the mat, feel the spine and continue to concentrate on your breath as you visualize each vertebrae dropping down
  4. Once you reach your tailbone, allow your attention to move to your skull, feel the back of your head on the mat. Begin to bring your attention down each part of your body following the line of the spine and allow your mind to also follow each limb as you move  your attention downward.

Daily Actions: these can help you ground during the day when you feel yourself floating away (sometimes this will arise as frustration, tension or flightiness)

  1. Drink water
  2. get outside on the grass without shoes
  3. hug a tree (for real)
  4. press your feet into the floor
  5. lightly tap your legs and arms while bringing your attention to these areas

 

 

Get up off the floor and try again

Well, here I am AGAIN! I use to have a blog. It was read by many people years ago and I gathered a good following … until I freaked out. The reality that real people were actually reading about my life scared me and I shut the whole thing down. I began again a few years ago but never posted, and then again I started and again never posted. It was a little merry-go-round for a bit. But then I woke up and decided what the F?$! and here I am. This year is all about trust and facing fear and BREATHE every moment of every day mainly because some days it is about all I can manage. Life can be hard. It can mess you up and throw you around but in that mess we can learn some pretty great things if we are open to it. Of course those beautiful miracle moments of growth only happen if we can be aware and if we are closing our eyes and holding our breath we will easily miss them. I am not perfect (I mean REALLY NOT perfect) and I often forget to breathe and often close my eyes waiting for the scary part to end but sometimes I remember to breathe and let BE and it really is not so bad. I mean I’m still here.

BREATHE

  1. Body: “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it”-Joseph Pilates.  A Pilates Principle: Joseph Pilates emphasized full breath in his exercises called three dimensional breathing. On the inhale the lungs expand front, back and laterally, on the exhale the abdominals aid in emptying the lungs. He taught that the lungs should be activated strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body. Using the breath properly is an integral part of a Pilates workout.
  2. Mind:  When you feel overwhelmed or blocked deep controlled breathing can help move the energy, releasing blocks and welcoming in flow. It can help us in those moments in a workout that we need to “dig deep” and also in those moments in life when we feel like closing our eyes and waiting for the good part.
  3. Spirit: This is a 7 minute meditation with Baron Baptiste. It took me years to begin meditating and I still struggle (you will hear more about that in another Blog entry). I found a Baptiste DVD during a bad moment (bad months really) and there was something about his voice that helped ground me and hold me in the moment. It may or may not feel the same to you but it’s only 7 minutes. And really we can do anything for 7 minutes. So here is a meditation by Baron Baptiste on presence and breath.

Pilates Breathing Exercise

I do not have access to a full Trapeze Cadillac but I love using the Balance Ball and it adds an extra bit of effort for my Glutes and Hamstrings. I am showing here both the roll down bar and an option with a Theraband.

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  1. Alignment is key here. Do a quick body scan and feel your spine grounded to the mat or floor. Push into the bar or outward with the Theraband to feel the Serratus connection (those armpit muscles)
  2. I have my feet in an external rotation (slightly turned out with heels together). I find this helps turn off the hips and quads so my focus can be my Glutes and Hamstrings, however if you feel you need more inner thigh and Quad work see how working parallel feels for you.

3. Inhale. Press into feet and arms to lift the body upward. Hold your inhale for 3 counts and then lower back to start.

There are so many great ways to train our breathing.

Have fun. Experiment. Find the right way for you.

 

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