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
- Body: Precision is a Pilates Principle. Each movement is done with awareness of each part of the body, alignment and body placement.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- This is practice silently, eyes open but passive and no music
- Bring your attention first to your feet. Feel both feet solid on the floor or ground. I practice this both barefoot and with shoes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.