Wednesday, February 24, 2010

conscious choices

today i will chose to share a passage from one of the teachers i follow, dr. deepak chopra. i have been heavy with others' pain lately, but my heart has been filled with happiness because i am able to provide a little relief to them through my service. it is times like these that i feel so blessed to be able to do what i do and that i've made the choice to do it. for those of you who need a little assurance with your choices, please read and enjoy these nice words about listening to your body.

"your body sends a message of comfort, that’s the right choice. if your body sends a message of discomfort, then it’s the wrong choice.

ask your heart what to do. it may be the faintest level of feeling, but it’s there in your body. only the heart knows the correct answer. most people think the heart is mushy and sentimental, but it’s not. the heart is intuitive, it is holistic, contextual, relational; it doesn’t have a win-lose orientation, it taps into the cosmic computer and takes everything into account. at times, it may not even seem rational, but the heart has a computing ability that is far more accurate and far more precise than anything within the limits of rational thought…whether we know it or not, life is a continuum of choices, some are made consciously and some are made unconsciously…your future is generated by the choices you are making in every moment of your life.

the more you bring your choices into the level of your conscious awareness, the more you will make those choices which are spontaneously correct for both for you and those around you. and then it will become easier for you to write the script of your life."

- the seven spiritual laws of success

Friday, February 19, 2010

becoming your own masseuse

my yoga teacher says that through our (physical) yoga practice, we become our own masseurs - this certainly applies to a personal pilates practice as well. what do masseurs do after all? more often, they work to release tension and even out imbalances of muscle and energy.

a main principle in pilates is the idea of control - when you are in control of your body, you recognize blockages in energy and muscles, and actively work to find ways to unblock these areas. one of the more effective ways in doing so is by strengthening other surrounding areas around the same body area.

here's an example, if you are the type of person who experiences tension in your neck or shoulders, then we work on developing the latissmus dorsi muscles which are at the bottom of and below the shoulder girdle. when these muscles work like they’re supposed to, they actually complement the muscles above the shoulder girdle and alleviate the extra load that those muscles have been carrying by themselves.

with a regular pilates practice, you can learn to redistribute your physical (and mental) energy and through your own movement, actively unblock certain areas that are overworked, overloaded and overstressed. in turn, you will awaken and fortify those underutilized and neglected areas. this neck and shoulder tension we spoke of that was once there can be minimized, if not obliterated. all you have to do is dedicate yourself to finding a way to release that area’s tension, redirect that energy and lighten its load.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

boosting your brain power

gotta love it - yes, dancing is listed as #1! read the link people, it talks about exercise, flossing and learning another language :-) allons-nous a danser!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

reposting a good story on mind body connections

here's a great story from a student: she was carrying her groceries down a flight of stairs and suddenly she lost her balance. in years past, she tells me, she would have dropped the bag, spilling the contents and fallen immediately, surrendering to gravity and most likely obtaining a few bruises, scrapes, maybe pulling a muscle and such. in essence, she gave up immediately to the situation.

this time around, things were different for her. she lost her balance, but she fought to regain it. she focused to stay on her feet. she not only managed to do that, she reported, but she also kept the contents of the grocery bag from spilling out! she proudly told me of this accomplishment, saying that it was because she used her powerhouse to control her balance and prevent her fall. she also was pleased with the fact that she could focus on her ability to coordinate these things WHILE still holding onto the bag, keeping it upright. she had changed not only her physicality, she changed her whole attitude as well.

she fought and she focused instead of surrendering and giving up. of course this is my personal interpretation of this story, but i think it's a pretty good one, do you?

this is how pilates can help us all. as we strengthen our physical powerhouse, that strength will automatically fortify our mental state. a strong powerhouse means having great posture, and having great posture communicates confidence to the world. think about it - what connotations do you think about when you read the word "spineless"? we aim to support our spine with pilates exercises so that we can live our lives fully and healthily.

if you have a good story on how pilates has helped you, please share them with me. i've love to hear from you.

what we mean by "core"

i often sense that the word "core" is misinterpreted and sometimes misused. when pilates teachers refer to one's "core", i remind you that we are referring to the innermost muscles that support the trunk of the body. some people think that the word "core" means just your abdominals. we mean way more than that. imagine what an apple core is like when the rest of the apple has been eaten. the shape that it makes is actually a little similar to how we want our clients and students to envision their own core. when we speak of the "core" in pilates (and yoga) we mean those muscles that support the spine, the muscles that connect the ribs to the hips and other muscles that connect the spine to the hips.

we speak of creating a girdle for oneself, pulling all of the surrounding muscles in to establish a strong foundation. abdominal muscle groups like the rectus (along the front), the obliques and transverse (along the side of the body) are included in this definition, but so are the other muscles along the back of the body like the inner spinal erectors and quadratus lumborum as well as the latissmus dorsi which run close to the surface along the lower back. all of these muscle groups with many more, support the torso.

imagine how many muscles work together and how strong the many layers could be as they work together. with this strong core, your posture is at its best and you stand upright. when you stand upright, the benefits are endless to your body and overall well being. your lungs are able to fill with ease, your diaphragm is positioned to contract and relax maximally and your spine is stacked to serve most efficiently. with this posture, you have the capacity to take in the most oxygen as you breathe, therefore, increasing the circulation of blood throughout your system. with more blood and fresh oxygen through the system, the heart and brain work well. and yes, you guessed it, when your heart and your brain work well, you make the best decisions for yourself and you are confident with what you do.

a strong core in pilates will yield so much more than a 4- or 6-pack (so much of that is diet, anyway!), it will yield a strong spirit and strong foundation for living. and that's mind body connection at its best.