A beautiful image of the power of surrender, by Ron Hamad

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Balancing Act

Charles Darwin would have turned 200 this year. And in many of the articles that have been written about this Darwinian event, there has been focus on the phrase “survival of the fittest.”

For Darwin, this did not mean brute strength. Nor did it really have anything to do with competition in the dog-eat-dog sense. What Darwin meant by “fittest” is those who are best able to adapt to their current, local environment. That means that in order to survive, we need to be flexible, agile, strong and intuitive. It means that we need to be able to assess where we are in space and time and make the smartest moves from that current position. And that means that those of us who do Pilates have a distinct advantage.

Here’s why. Pilates helps to balance out our musculature. That doesn’t just mean that our biceps and our triceps are equally strong. It means that our superficial muscles are in balance with our deepest “core” muscles. And when our deep musculature is activated, we have an increased capacity for proprioception. Proprioception is our bodies’ own sense of where it is in space and time.

When I first started taking Pilates, I was nearly incapable of staying in the moment. My brain was engaged in an exercise of pitting my regrets (past action) against my fears (future concerns). This was a problem exacerbated by my addiction and anxiety issues. My thoughts in the “now” were limited to my cravings. “Can I smoke? Can I drink? Can I take an anxiety pill?” When these things were unavailable to me, the emotion I responded with was anger. I created numerous justifications for this anger. None of them were ever productive. Not once.

But as I began to live one day at a time in sobriety, I was also using Pilates to retrain my body to understand “now” on a visceral level.

In this economy, in these changing times, I am so grateful to have my balanced and hopeful body. Pilates reminds me that if I honor my breath and am particular about my movements, if I focus on being my best self every single day, only good can come of it.

Even with a Pilates-fed mind, body and spirit, these are truly tough times. Kate, Sonya, all of your wonderful Pendleton teachers, and I are deeply appreciative of all of you who continue to help our Pilates community thrive. If we can be of help to you to keep you active in Pilates with us, please let us know.

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