Believe, imagine and awaken to healthy movement
Special to The Union
Joseph Pilates said, “If your spine is stiff at 30 you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.” We have the choice to continue to move playfully in our bodies and challenge our minds. Even if we feel stiff now, we can begin to stretch, stabilize, breathe, visualize and believe in ourselves so that we feel more fluid in our bodies and awake in our minds, no matter our age or personal history.
Pilates also claimed “physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” though he acknowledged that a balanced life included mental and spiritual health as well. Perhaps happiness has as much to do with attitude as it does with exercise. If we believe we can be vital, supple and move freely, then with patience and perseverance (and physical activity) we can get there. Pilates himself was a frail child who was bullied. So he created practices that included thoughtful, precise movement and breath-work to grow strong, and work towards a fulfilling life.
Mabel Todd, founder of Ideokinesis, was in a terrible accident that paralyzed her. She healed herself, though her doctors didn’t believe it possible, using imagination—learning to walk again and becoming even more coordinated than before.
In my early 40s I wasn’t exercising enough, I was stressed by my job, my marriage was on the rocks, and I was living in Alaska, in a dark and cold environment that didn’t suit me. My body started breaking down. My doctor thought I was “brewing” an autoimmune disease because I was struggling with inflammation. She wanted to send me to a rheumatoid arthritis specialist and I balked. I wanted to see what my naturopath had to say first—and she had me take a good look at myself.
I was not happy. I felt stuck. I didn’t believe I had power over my life. I began to see I did have choices. They were very hard choices, but I could take my life back. I began to make changes based on what I intuitively felt would be best for me and for my family.
My yoga practice grew strong again. I began to meditate. I communicated clearly with my children. I found Pilates. A few years later I moved to California. I feel younger and healthier at 51 than I did then.
Pilates teacher Brooke Siler said, “Believing in your innate ability to achieve is the key to changing your body.”
I have seen this remarkable change in all ages of students. I have seen spines begin to unfold, hips grow strong, breathing capacities expand and attitudes shift.
Our culture often treats age as something to dread, and I am not saying it doesn’t come with its challenges. However, if we apply a few basic principles we may feel healthy and vital and let go of the number of years defining who we are and what we can do.
We can bring attention to daily movements, whether walking across the suspension bridge over Deer Creek or doing yoga. Become conscious of sensations. Ask how do my spine, pelvis, knees and shoulders feel? Is there a way to move differently and feel better? Experiment. Be curious.
We can slow down, whether we are brushing teeth, washing the car or dancing. Then the brain can notice what is happening and consider different possibilities—it doesn’t jump right into habitual behavior.
We can strive to vary activities. If you swim, why not try the bike? Variation stimulates thoughts and ideas and initiates new neural connections. I am beginning a Playful Movement class in February at Full Life Yoga Studio if you would like to join me in moving your body in new ways.
We can keep learning: entering activities with curiosity and beginner’s mind. In yoga, even if we have done a pose thousands of times, we can learn something new if we open our awareness and feel into ourselves during our movement into, in, and out of the posture, especially if we explore it in a new way. We can use creativity to manifest what we truly want.
As Brooke Siler said, “Use your mind’s eye to enhance your physical movement.”
If we want better balance, we can visualize balancing—and as we see ourselves balanced, we can feel into the muscles we would activate to create this balance.
And perhaps most important— believe in possibility— then, awaken to the body and go for it!
Tracy Lease, owner & director of Full Life Yoga Studio has a passion for teaching Yoga, Pilates and Playful Movement. An Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher and PMA Certified Pilates Teacher, she can be reached at email@example.com.
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