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!

 

 
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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.