As a child, I learned that one must not speak of politics and religion in polite company. The weather was always a safe choice.
The past year has been a challenging time both in the US and around the World, and I am finding myself in unfamiliar territory. I realized early on in my career that as I help people discover and reclaim movement, this sometimes unravels a hail storm of emotions and feelings.
With this job comes an element of psychotherapy that, although beyond my scope, has become a part of my daily life.
I never could have anticipated the recent developments and the toll it would take physically and emotionally on my students and myself. A friend recently said: “Every 30 years or so the World goes crazy. Just long enough for us to forget the last time it happened.”
Unfortunately, the body doesn’t forget.
So these days I often find myself wondering: what happens to the mind-body connection when the mind (and body) are consumed with external distractions? In a nutshell, when the mind is consumed, the connection to the body is lost.
How do we bring our minds back to a place of calm, focus, and attention?
When this is most challenging, I am immediately reminded of the principles of Pilates. After all, isn’t calm, focus and attention really the whole point to realizing the true benefits of Pilates. So in this case, it might be said that Pilates is really the answer to life, the universe and almost everything. Of course, Pilates enthusiasts already knew that.
Joseph Pilates intended his method to be a lifestyle choice, not just an exercise program. In that way, he described his philosophies, from which the principles were derived, from a functional everyday life perspective. This means that the principles we apply to our movement practice can also be applied to our life. When times get tough, we can use these guiding principles as follows:
1) Breathing – seems obvious enough, and also necessary for life. The breath not only is “the first act of life, and the last” as Joseph Pilates said, but it is also a valuable tool for finding calm, taking pause, and releasing tension and stress.
2) Coordination – this can be applied to our relationships with others. When times are tough, we can coordinate with our friends, family, and colleagues to find solace and comfort.
3) Control – while we can’t always control external factors, we can control how we react to them.
4) Centering – put things in perspective, and get back to your core values.
5) Fluidity – be flexible to adapt to life’s changes and challenges
6) Precision – defined as “the quality, condition, or fact of being exact and accurate”, this is quite poignant today. As facts become more and more distorted, we can sift through the mountains of information we receive daily to make our own decisions about what is accurate and factual, rather than filling our heads with worry about something that may not actually be true.
As the year, draws to a close, I am hopeful for positivity ahead. It is most important to remember that the mind and the body are intimately connected and that taking care of one takes care of the other. Spend time in your own practice to bring yourself back to the basic principles of the Method, and find moments in life where you can apply these for positive outcomes.
Interested in learning more about the principles of Pilates and experience them for yourself and the people that you serve? Click HERE to check out the Body Harmonics Pilates Teacher Training Certification programs. All Movement Professionals and Enthusiasts are welcome.
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-NCPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
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