Category Archives: Pilates FKA Contrology, the Art of Control

Pilates is my daily practice for body sleuthing and seeking enlightenment. Try it, you’ll like it!


Recently, I enjoyed something of a revelation within my body which relates in no small part to some other shafts of light that have been making way into my life these days.  I celebrate my joy and relief by sharing them here.

With my tailbone injury comes a fair amount of tension along my spine that radiates out to the rest of my body.  I keep that tension in check with the deliberate movements that make up my regular Pilates practice.  And I get support from various practitioners to slowly whittle away at the underlying tension patterns that have a hold on me.  It would seem that I’m making headway because recently I was able to feel something entirely new and gratifying.  In sitting and nursing, I often feel discomfort across my upper back.  I’ve known for years that this is indicative of my seated posture, I’ve even known how to change my posture.  But my body was under too much load to integrate the change.  In short, the pain remained no matter what adjustments I made.  (Movement has been the saving grace, I just keep moving and that has kept much of the pain at bay.)  But on this occasion, I was able to make the appropriate change, which is to sit upon my hips rather than slumping into them.  Instantly, my upper back pain disappeared!  This brought about a sense of relief that has been years in the making.

In a completely different area of my life, I’m enjoying a whole now sense of happiness and self-empowerment.  My son is nearly two and a half years old now and he’s entering a new phase of independent play.  One of the gals who has helped us with caring for him while I work, is leaving us because she found a full-time position that better suits her needs.  For a while I was struggling with how to re-organize our childcare arrangements and it finally dawned on me that it’s time for me to have less help and more time with my boy.  I can’t exactly describe the cascading benefits of this choice that I made other than to say that it was clearly the best scenario for both of us.  I partly attribute this to having passed through a rough place in my own personal healing process that becoming a mother initiated for me.  I share this because it is my belief that parenting presents us each with opportunities for healing old and long forgotten wounds.  The experience of tending to those wounds is not fun and not commonly embraced or even acknowledged in our collective conversations, which makes the challenge of it that much more than some of us would like to bear.   But coming through to the other side, has been such a clearing that it almost makes me eager for the next challenge that will inevitably come my way.

These two experiences put together bring to my mind another idea that’s been brewing since I put Rupam’s suggestion into practice.  If I think of my body as a vessel, then it makes the most sense to fill that vessel with love and light.  In doing so I expose the feelings and emotions that the dark thoughts in the recesses of my mind have embodied within my physical form.  The more that I fill my body with love, gratitude, forgiveness, and acknowledgement of that which hasn’t best served me, the more I clear out the dark places and complete myself.  In the physical sense I have noticed a spaciousness that comes with this clearing process.  That makes room for the constant expansion that drives so much of what I do.  I applied this idea to my Pilates practice one day when I was feeling particularly stiff and sluggish.  The result was immediate:  the entirety of my body opened and released.  I was longer, lighter, and more supple instantly.

We cannot always bypass the challenges that face us.  Often the only way is through.  And I’d argue that going through, rather than over or under, affords us the best opportunities for growth and empowerment.  In the face of adversity, we can honor ourselves.  We can focus on love and light.  We can give ourselves the best possible support for making the hard journey.  And we can assure ourselves, that we will eventually arrive at a clearing.

My thoughts upon reading “Joseph Hubertus Pilates: The Biography” by Javier Pérez Pont and Esperanza Aparicio-Romero

I have gobbled up every word, even the ones that are arranged on the pages with a Spanish syntax, even the ones that I didn’t completely understand (I think because the translation didn’t account for idioms).

I enjoyed revelation after revelation thanks to the thorough work of the Spanish team that put this book together.  And I’m so heartened to know that this book marks only the beginning of another lengthy and equally thorough inquiry into the work of Joe Pilates.  I admire Javier and Esperanza for completing the tremendous task of discovering and sorting out the facts and myths that make up what we in present day can learn about Joe Pilates.  And I admire Javier for the inquiry into the method via the apparatus that he is now in the midst of.

The opportunity that they had to do this work is enviable, but the task of doing it surely involved countless hours of toil.  Anybody who loves Pilates owes them a debt of gratitude for taking on the enormity of the task, and completing it!  Which is to say that if you care about Pilates, read this book!  Think of it as the cost of a lesson – a very important, game changing lesson.

I appreciate the respect that they expressed for all people involved in the story of Joe Pilates’ life.  The book itself is at some points rather dry, although I daresay not for a Pilates enthusiast.  The authors chose to present the information directly, based on what they learned.  Which leaves each reader to fill in the elements of story.  While the story-lover in me loves a good yarn, I applaud their restraint.  Indeed, the whole of the life that the book chronicles is so much bigger than anyone could attempt to encapsulate in a series of stories, that it seems that the authors made the most respectful choice that they could have made at this stage in the inquiry.

I am grateful that there are others who are grappling with the question of how to keep the full method that Joe developed alive and thriving.  For me this is a daily challenge.  Honestly, I often feel that I’m engaged in an exercise of futility, but I realize that by simply setting my intention upon the goal of honoring Joe, I’m setting myself up for some measure of success.  And I have experienced an increasing clarity with the work that surely indicates some measure of progress.  All that creates a platform on which I am relieved to know that others are engaged with this challenge, and they are armed with much more information than I, as well as having each other.  When I am not bound by my duties of motherhood, I know that I have a place to go and learn that which interests me most about Pilates:  It will be a nice carrot to munch on someday.

This task of honoring the original work over 50 years after Joe left this material world, is no easy feat.  As the authors point out, we are working with incomplete information on the topic.  But with a fair amount of sleuthing and an intention of respect, I have faith that their efforts will yield good results and that we will all have access to a fuller picture of the Pilates Method than ever before.  This team of Pilates enthusiasts is well on their way to building a new course of study within the Pilates Method.

My introduction to Pilates came by way of people who were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but not well versed in the original method.  The more I learned, the more I realized that the only way I’d feel that I knew Pilates was to learn from Romana.  Learning from Romana and many of the people who worked with her through the decades, was everything that I wanted it to be, and more.  Along the way, though, I realized that I could not stop there.  There is still more to the story.  More to uncover within the method.  And more to discover within myself.

Romana, among so many other things, kept Pilates alive.  The authors have shown us how this occurred.  In the initial decades after Joe’s death that meant doing the work of the method day in and day out.  But there was another, and perhaps greater, task that she took on which was the dissemination of the work.  In that process, choices had to be made.  She chose well and did an admirable job of doing what Joe could not manage to do in his lifetime.  Joe created and left us the work.  In a very real way, Romana kept it alive and gave us a blueprint for doing the same.  In doing that, she gave us a jumping board from which to delve deeper, to realize the fullness of the method and the richness that a complete and thorough study offers each and every student who accepts Pilates into his / her life.  (I know it sounds a little religious, what can I say?)

With this biography, this European team is building the foundation of that phase of redevelopment.  I guess I’ll have to move to Europe someday….

Pilates is About….Strength

If I haven’t already mentioned Romana’s simple and sophisticated definition of Pilates, then I should for posterity sake:  stretch, strength, and control.  In every exercise.  At least, that’s the gist of what I understood.  I think about that crystallized idea often as it’s a good measure of the work being done on my watch, and a good way to keep tabs on my understanding of the work.  (It’s very easy to veer off track with Pilates because our bodies encompass so much of what we experience from day to day).

I know that I already shared some thoughts on control a while back.  Today, I’ll share some on strength.  Here’s a story that I think goes a long way toward conveying what strength means in the world of Pilates.

When I was a Romana’s Pilates apprentice, along with working diligently on my Pilates workouts, I had decided that I wanted to be able to perform a pull up and a chin up.  Everyday when I worked out, I’d do a few of each at the end.  Months went by and I didn’t make a lick of progress.  (Yes, I realize that this proves that I am a slow learner.)  During one of my lessons with Sari at TPNY, I was working on the standing arm series and she was monitoring my low back.  Thanks to her wise and sensitive hand, it quickly became clear that with each movement I lost my connection to my center.  With her unwavering guidance I figured it out.  The proof of that being that upon returning to my daily pull up / chin up regimen, I could actually perform both.  It turns out that the strength had been there all along, but the coordination had not.

Sure Pilates builds strength, but always in a coordinated way.  Always with stretch, always under control.  This ends up building a very different sort of body than one that is focused purely on strength.  Strength alone doesn’t amount to much in terms of function.  On the other hand, consider a well coordinated body; that has a perfect balance of stretch and strength which is harnessed by mental control.  Now that’s what makes a powerhouse!

Reclaiming the Youth that I Never Had With Pilates

As I’ve mentioned many times here, I have been navigating injuries since I was a teenager.  My mother, in a misguided attempt to be helpful, would often say that I was too young to be in such pain.  Yet pain was a daily reality for me, for over a decade.  Even now, the majority of my days include some degree of physical discomfort, but nothing compared to what I experienced in my twenties.   Because of this, it has taken me many years to realize just how uncommon my experience of pain and discomfort was vis a vis my age.  I’m grateful to Pilates because as I continue to build my Pilates Body, I see the layers of pain dissolve and the body that I never had as a young person is revealed.

Many people bemoan the loss of youth with the aging process.  I can never relate to such lamentations because as I get older, I get better, not worse.  Yes, I have Pilates to thank for that in two parts.  Firstly because it helps me manage and diminish my pain.  And secondly because it gives me a format for continual improvement.  Pilates is at once corrective, restorative, and enhancing.

When I was an apprentice with Romana’s Pilates, I benefited from many conversations with Pamela Pardi.  She is one of my favorite teachers because she is so thoughtful.  Pam brought home the point that Pilates minimizes age.  It means so much to hear things in-person and in-context.  I’ve taken what she said on the topic to heart.  Because now I that I am officially aging, and I don’t have a picture-perfect-pain-free youth about which to reminisce, I have something of a double imperative to remain young by the standards of Joe Pilates:  “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old.  If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”

Since I’m reading the JHP biography right now, it bears mentioning that Joe himself enjoyed something of a renaissance in his life once he was firmly entrenched in adulthood because the “Golden Era” of Pilates was when he in his forties.  For many of us, this simple truth adds yet another layer of inspiration to the method that he developed.

Today for my small part, I’m grateful to enjoy the miracle of Pilates in my daily life and to be able to share its many wonders.  It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Ideas for Merry Making

As the season of making merry is nearly upon us I thought that I’d share a couple ideas for throwing a studio party that I’ve developed over the years.  Nothing big, but still worthy of sharing, I think.  Originally, this party would happen in early December, but in time I realized that late January was a better time.  The holiday crunch time was over and since January tends to be a busy time in the studio it ends up being a good way to celebrate new beginnings, old friends, and to light up the darkness of mid-winter.  This also keeps the celebration holiday-neutral and more seasonally based which I like.

As is probably clear, I’m a crafty kind of gal.  This means that for me, parties are all about the decorations.  My annual studio party involves hundreds of snowflakes that I cut out of paper, strung together along fishing line, and taped to the ceiling.  In the dark evenings, the snowflakes cast shadows all over the walls of my studio, it was quite magical.  The decorations were up for the party only.  I didn’t want them to distract from our work in the studio, and I wanted to keep the magic of the evening contained.  As the years went on and people wanted to learn how to make their own snowflakes, I started another tradition of a snowflake cutting party.  This one happened in the fall and involved homemade donuts.  (Because we also like to eat).  Decorations, are clearly not needed for a party.  But I do think that some kind magical tradition makes such events more special over the years.  (No photos of the blizzard exist, seeing is the only believing in this case).

I also developed a menu for the party that I tried to stick to throughout the years.  This involved home-baked goodies (alfajores in honor of Sari, dried fruitcake because it’s delicious and nutritious, snowflake cutout cookies for obvious reasons, and a special chocolate mint cake from my own family’s tradition), and a minimal mezze.  I chose to keep the offerings fairly healthy, and alcohol-free.  I wanted to strike a balance between sharing holiday fun and honoring the goals of a healthy lifestyle that go along with maintaining a Pilates practice.  (Yes, I realize that alcohol is a standard within the Pilates tradition, but I’m not much of a drinker and many clients over the years have indicated that they prefer alcohol-free social events).

In the first couple years of this tradition, because my clients all had individual relationships with me, everybody wanted to talk to me, and only me.  I invented a Pilates quiz game to serve as something of an ice-breaker which we’d play for a few minutes every twenty minutes of the party.  As the years went on, my clients developed their own relationships amongst each other and the community surrounding my studio took on a life of its own.  At this point the games weren’t necessary and I could relax and enjoy the fun rather than be the center of attention, a role with which I never felt completely comfortable.

Lastly, I want to share the idea for converting my reformers and high mats into party seating.  Seeing the benches at Brooke Siler’s studio many years ago gave me the idea.




1).  With your final layout plan, place cleaning towels on the floor underneath where you plan to have the benches so that the wheels of the carriages won’t leave marks on the floor.  2).   Remove the handles from the straps and disconnect the straps from the rear wheels.  Keeping the clean parts facing out, wrap the straps around the shoulder blocks.  3).  Undo the springs and lift the carriage out of the frame, place it carefully on the towel.  4).  Move the frame over the carriage.  Fold in the foot bar.  Place strips of a yoga mat along the frame for some stability.  Place a high mat on the frame to make a bench.






Up later this week two recipes from our annual celebration to light up the dark season: delicious and nutritious dried fruit cake, and chocolate mint squares to enjoy only once a year.  One of the things that I love about the Pilates community is the level of creativity that it boasts.  I’d love to hear other folks merry traditions!  Please share yours in the comments.

The Universality of Creativity

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and bones. -Henry David Thoreau

Romana encouraged us to lead full and diverse lives.  I remember that clearly….
During my years of study at university, when I was doing a lot thinking before having much real world experience, I became enamored with the idea that everything is connected and that no matter what a person studies there are common grounds of concluding thought.  Put another way, there are many courses of study to arrive at the same general ideas about living life.

Mostly because of this over-arching idea, but also because I have always tended to be a creative person with many interests, I often end up seeing similarities and common threads where others don’t.  I have learned to hold steady on my course despite not always being well received when sharing my thoughts.  Mostly because I’ve got to stay true to myself but also because in the instances where I’ve had the fortitude to inquire further into why my thoughts were received flatly, generally the person in question’s perspective is so different than mine that it’s obvious we wouldn’t have the same viewpoint.

Since delving even deeper into myself with my foray into motherhood, and occasionally peeking out into the broader world to see what others are up to, I’ve come to realize something about ourselves, we are pretty disconnected.  To me this disconnection takes on many forms, from nature, from ourselves, from our close relations, from our colleagues, from our kids, the list could go on.  I believe that a symptom of that disconnect is to compartmentalize how we express ourselves.

If there’s one personal theme that has come up again and again for me as I work together with my husband to lay the foundation of our family life, it’s integration.  Everything all together under the roof of our home.  Everything of ourselves in the dynamics of our relationship.  Everything that we care about must have a place.  Every aspect of our bodies, minds, and spirits must be served and cared for.  Every person, every being if we include the cat – which we do, has an important role to play in the theater of our family life – and in the world beyond.  Everything is everything.  That’s the sort of life that I strive to live everyday.

What I write about here, hopefully reflects that.  Because in many ways this space is supporting me in fulfilling that vision of a whole life lived in the community of loved ones.  Toward that end, I want to make a point which I’ve attempted to make before about the connection of creativity and our place in the natural world.  I admire greatly people who craft regularly, and people who live more in communion with nature than I do.  By in large, those are the bloggers who I follow here in cyberspace because that type of blogging seems to be the most prevalent.  With my Pilates Body Boost project, I began to connect with others from my own profession of Pilates online.  And now, I feel something of an obligation to regularly write about Pilates here.  Believe me, I’ve got plenty to say on the topic, with new ideas popping up daily in the studio.  But right now, something else in me is asking for a little bit of room to express itself.  It seems that the part of me that loves to sew is really demanding these days and everywhere I look, a new project presents itself.  So fair warning, there may be some clothing posts coming up.  But Pilates is always in the mix.  Even if it’s just in my daily mat.

And since I’m on the topic, I’d like to point out all the ways that practicing Pilates is a creative enterprise.  If there is a group of fundamental human activities (I’m sure that somebody has put such a list together), then creating is surely on it.  I cannot think of a more important expression of the human spirit than creativity.  I’m thinking of this excerpt:
“In a way, her strangeness, her naiveté, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings, had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous.”  – Toni Morrison, Sula

And I’m thinking of the wonderful sense of satisfaction we each feel when we make something happen.  Our bodies are rich material for creating, they are literally putty in the hands of our minds.  Its just that mostly we are ignorant to this.  Instead of being conscious about how our bodies reflect our thoughts and deeds, we are moulding them unconsciously.

This became very apparent to me when I began more serious dance training in college.  Looking at myself in the mirror, in skin tight clothing, amongst bodies already more finely tuned than my own, I realized that everything was there to be interpreted.  Unconsciously, we each do interpret each other based on the physical language of our bodies.   (I mentioned my favorite TED talk on this topic a while back).  It was back then that I became interested in bringing the moulding of myself to the forefront of my mind.  In making that change, I changed everything about my life.  Because of that I feel compelled to share what I’ve learned.

Being that I want to share what I care most about, it’s important that I continually come up with new ways to present the information.  Part of that is being open to the insights that come from all directions of this multifaceted life that I’m living.  Today, the theme is creativity, and the idea is that no matter what the medium, creativity is the common thread that binds us all in this human experience that we’re all having.  Given my recent insight, the slogan “do something creative every day” feels like a worthwhile call to action rather than a trite way to sustain a business selling paper.

Which gets me to the point of acknowledging all of the creative things that we do which don’t fall under the typical definition of “creative”.  So here’s to embracing the fullness and diversity of our creativity.  In that we will find fulfillment beyond what we could imagine in a world strictly defined categories.

Adele Considers Old World Gymnastics at True Pilates New York

Adele dreaming of swinging on the rings from atop Drago's ball.

Adele considers Pilates training from atop Drago's ball.

With the exception of the past two months, I haven’t been doing a lot of traveling for a while.  Compared to the six or so years when I was off to some far flung place for Pilates training several times a year, this period of constancy has been a real switch for me.  Thinking about my recent travels in this framework makes me understand my overwhelm of the past couple months.  In the past three or so years I really have sunk deeper into myself than perhaps ever before.  It’s relatively quiet and calm in here, compared to that stimulus heavy life I used to live.

A while back I stumbled on a website called Atlas Obscura and I was smitten.  I’m not much of a traveler because I get focused on things and there is something about traveling that requires a particular brand of dynamism which to me seems contrary to that sort of concentration that my passions dictate.  And yet, I love to travel for the insights that inevitably come with journeying beyond my known world.  In traveling for Pilates, I found a workable and, dare I even say, pleasing combination of challenge and reward.  The rewards of learning from others in my profession (with a smattering of exposure to new and appealing items only to be found out beyond) balanced out the great effort and strain that it took be to disentangle myself from my life.

But there is something else that I love about the notion of travel within the context of my passions and that is that there is the opportunity for a double discovery.  Not only to I go to a new place and challenge the tendrils of provincialism that slowly creep around me, but I get to delve into the obscure world of our bodies.  Joe Pilates put it well when he raised the question: “Why boast of this age of science and invention that has produced so many marvelous wonders when, in the final analysis, we find that man has entirely overlooked the most complex and marvelous of all creations:  himself?”

Sure the world is full of hidden places and miracles abound for those who remain on the lookout.  But the same statement could be made about our bodies.  The opportunity for discovery within the body is always right here.  I like the idea of sharing places around the world that have offered me a view into the world within my own body.  And with my visit to NYC this past week, I finally had the opportunity to begin that project.

I’ve been wanting to mention the gymnastics at True Pilates New York (formerly Drago’s Gymnasium) ever since I found Atlas Obscura because while Pilates has enjoyed something of a boom in recent decades, it’s still mostly obscured from the general public.  If Pilates is mostly in the dark, then gymnastics for adults is even further off the beaten path.  How sad is that for all of us?  I’m frequently going on about how amazing Pilates is so I won’t belabor that point here.   While I’ve never taken a gymnastics class myself, I will be the first to say that I’ve seen some midtowners do some pretty impressive moves once they don their tights and leotards.  And while I didn’t know Drago or his team of gymnastics instructors that well, I was always entranced by my curiosity – but I was there for Pilates and I didn’t dare to break my concentration for long.

Adele and I were just in NYC for twenty four hours, on a Sunday no less.  But TPNY graciously welcomed me to snap a couple photos and to spend a half an hour or so on memory lane.  It was nice to be in a place that was so foundational to me and to think about what might be possible for me in the future.  Perhaps some gymnastics lessons?  I’d like that very much!

And so begins my journal of travels into the obscure world of our bodies.  It will be slow coming for a while, but someday I hope to speed up the discovery process (another project for another decade…stay tuned).  In the meantime, I’ve got my body right here with me.  The explorations and discoveries never end!

Click here to read my place description on the Atlas.


My Pilates Lessons:

Be gentle.  Be kind.  Be forgiving.  Stay humble.  In every moment.  Toward each and every thing, living and not.  For every thought, every action, every word is reflected back into yourself.

This is what I’ve learned in the past few days, in three different ways.  First, in the most personal way, for my own body and the thoughts that I keep secret (mostly even from myself).  Secondly, in my work with a dear client.  And thirdly, from my current birds eye view of the broader Pilates community in which I used to be much more participatory.

I am blessed with getting to know Rupam Henry.  She brings a powerful blend of knowledge and spiritual intuition to her work with plants and our bodies.  She shared a mantra with me in relation to supporting my breasts which has had a powerful impact in just three days of practice.  Mostly because I realized how unkind, harsh, and unforgiving I’ve been with my body.  Directing words of apology, love, and gratitude toward my body has given me the opportunity to face all that internalized negativity and replace it with loving support.  I have read similar recommendations in the past (mostly in Louise Hay’s writings), but hearing the words in person really brought the message home to me and I was in a receptive place to try it out.  So often I’ve found this to be the case, that I come across plenty of information that sounds compelling and yet I do not take the step to implement it in my own life.  Until I have an experience.  Today I’m feeling particularly grateful for such experiences, they really have made the difference in my life time and again.

Last week, something came up for a dear client of mine.  I’ve been noticing a way in which she engages her muscles which indicates to me inhibition and tension rather than coordination and optimal function.  So for quite a while I’ve been attempting to help her change that pattern.  But my attempts were in vain.  But last week I said something that sounded an alarm for her because I pointed out that perhaps there was an emotional component to what was happening physically, and so she dug into what was happening with two other practitioners who also offer her support.  I had the opportunity to hear from one of those practitioners and while there was a lot of information shared, what I came away with was be gentle and be kind.  An excellent reminder.  Our bodies are so sensitive, they contain so much.  And we are blind to most of it.  It really is best to approach our bodies with gentleness and kindness.  As a teacher I am always trying to facilitate this.  But sometimes my message gets lost in translation.  Yesterday when my client and I reviewed what had happened over the week, I began to see that I had been unwittingly leading her toward a very different experience than the one I intended for her to have.  Clearly, I hadn’t realized this.  And neither had she until I made the observation about the possibility of an emotional component to what was happening.  I spent some time feeling badly for having contributed to her frustrating experiences by continuing down a path that wasn’t working for her.  But then I remembered to be kind, gentle, and forgiving to myself.  And furthermore, I realized that even though some frustrations were faced head on, a resolution was the final destination.  The two other practitioners helped tremendously, my client found some more information online that helped her to do what I’d been trying in vain to get her to do.  All was well.  I have some new information to learn since my client passed on the resources that had been so helpful to her, and I have yet more gratitude for the support of those two practitioners, since in helping my client they also helped me.

The interpersonal dynamics within the Pilates community seem to be in a state of dramatic expression right now.  While all I know of this is what I read in perhaps a string of 10 comments at a time on an online forum (I believe that the thread I was reading had several hundred – ugh), it is upsetting nonetheless.  I am reminded of past arguments which have reached the status of legend, and of the few to which I’ve had more immediate exposure.  Perhaps, it makes sense to point out that everybody exposed to these heated and dramatic interactions is affected.  I have often wished that the people who participated would have considered this simple truth.  Because whatever upset they felt compelled to express harshly has left it mark.  And I wonder what the ultimate gain in the original expression was.  Was it simply to vent some emotion?  If so, I’d like to suggest that perhaps that’s better done in a more contained arena.  Was it meant to make an important philosophical point?  If so, I’d recommend more editing and consultation in the ways political discourse, as there are savvy ways to convey seemingly indigestible pieces of truth.  But I digress, as it is so easy to do when sensitivities have been inflamed.  My main point is this:  be gentle, be kind, be forgiving, stay humble.  From that place I think that we will all find a way of doing the work that clearly means so much to us.  And from building real bonds of collegiality which will only strengthen our resolve to do the work that we love.  I think also, that if we bear those four tips in mind we’ll also come to an even more important and life-altering realization:  that the only one hurting us is us.  I believe that it was Byron Katie who really gave me the framework for understanding this essential truth to the workings of our minds:  that our thoughts, rather than the circumstances of the external world, are what do us in.

It’s been up on the shelf above my computer for a couple years at least, because it’s a notion that merits frequent consideration given how easy I make it for my mind to run a muck:  If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.  – Marcus Aurelius

I wish each person who reads this blessings for a beautiful day and a beautiful life.

My Pilates Body Has Been Boosted!

pilates boost 10-19-13

INITIAL STATS  Weight:  153  Waist:  33″  Hips:  41″  Thighs:  23 1/2″
FINAL STATS  Weight:  154 lb    Waist:  33″  Hips:  40″  Thighs:  22.5″

The truth is that I’m going to stick with my current workout plan for a few more weeks since my boost suffered some droops toward the end.  But I figured that I’d conclude the official project on the original schedule.

This project turned out to be really great for me.  While I’m still sorting out what my ideal body is, I feel that my sense of it is significantly clearer thanks to the boost that I’ve given myself.  I have managed to re-ignite my Pilates practice with zest and pleasure.  I’ve made tremendous progress with my tailbone injury and the ailments related to it.  While I still weigh the same and my measurements aren’t really that different, I look better.  Thanks to the Pilates and to my healing process, my posture is dramatically improved (although when I’m under stress I revert to unflattering habitual holding patterns).

It may be magical thinking, but I have the sense that as my body is adjusting to this newly energized state, rather than an ending, I’m just beginning with respect to arriving at my personal ideal.  When I started this project, I was very much in the doldrums and now at its conclusion, it seems that in all areas of my life the current is moving in a positive direction.  I see this as a holistic transformation in which the entirety of me is on the rise.  A disjointed analysis would give Pilates more than it’s fair credit for this change and yet, it certainly has played a key role, physically, emotionally, and symbolically.

Along the same lines of thinking, a client of mine was talking about how one of her health practitioners told her that her nasal congestion would likely remain until she stopped nursing.  This reminded me of something that my acupuncturist told me about nursing, how it is associated with dampness in the body, and how it is difficult to “dry up”.  I have the sense that I’ve primed my body to dry out by igniting my internal energy (think of how a clothes dryer works, heat helps to lesson dampness).  Time will tell if my intuition about this physical reality of mine is correct.

Here are three beginning and ending pics that best demonstrate the improvements in my form.




Gosh, I do love Pilates and I feel so grateful to have a practice to enjoy for a lifetime!

My Pilates Droop

Last week was overwhelmingly busy time for this body sleuth!   Here are the highlights that are relevant to My Pilates Body Boost.

On Wednesday…I must have discussed my somewhat frequent bouts with spasms of my trapezius muscle.  Well, along with continuing to address my tailbone area, my upper left back has been clamoring for attention lately at my chiropractic and body work sessions.  My chiropractor mentioned my trapezius a while back but it was my body worker who mentioned Eric Franklin’s (by way of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, who totally rocked my world last weekend – I’ve got a post on that coming) description of the muscle currents that got me enjoying my trapezius in a refreshing new way.  I’ve had the book for years, but I’m giving it a bit more attention now.  Basically I’ve been envisioning my lower trapezius like the base of a podium, my middle trapezius like the tray, and my upper trapezius like some lovely sculpture resting upon the tray.  It’s doing wonders for my posture, achy muscles, and integration of what I learned from Bonnie.

On Thursday…During my workout on the wunda chair, I fell off!  I was doing the teaser while worrying about how exactly I’d navigate sustaining my career while having a second child (I should have learned from my first pregnancy that there is no point in trying to plan certain life circumstances around having a baby, we figure it out a long the way and we are nearly a year away from feeling ready for an addition to our family anyway).  Clearly I was not focused on my Pilates, darn it all.  But I was pretty relaxed.  I watched calmly as my hands missed the pedal and as my reflection in the mirror went out of view and I fell back in what felt like slow motion.  Little by little it seemed, I made it to the floor.  I skinned my spine on the pedal.  As my heart was beating, I decided that it was best to lay and recover while focussing on the place where I touched down.  I reckon that I’ll have a pretty good bruise and I wonder how long it will take for the skin to repair since I think of bony spots as receiving less in the way of restorative blood circulation.  After a couple minutes I surprised myself by finishing my workout.  It would seem that I have successfully established a Pilates habit and for that I’m pleased.  And as far as falling, well I suppose that the more years under my belt the greater my chance of falling would be.  I’m hoping that just once is enough to teach me the important lesson of being mindful while exercising.

On Friday…A case of mastitis took me down.  Mastitis is a curious thing to me.  Despite my growing awareness and treatment arsenal, I was caught off guard yet again.  In this case, I felt a tremendous soreness in my breast, but no hard areas and so I figured that something else was going on.  But by the end of the day it was clear what was happening.  My Chinese herbs, soy lecithin, steamed cabbage leaf compress, warm washcloth compresses before vigorous pumping sessions, and nine hours of rest, all contributed to a fairly swift recovery.  Which is to say that I managed to keep my studio appointments over the weekend but still needed to take extra care.  Husband and boy also needed an extra mellow weekend of recovery so much of the usual was scrapped and we just made do.

On Monday…I finished up an ongoing project for my studio which is a tremendous relief.  Only today can I get back to whatever semblance of routine I manage to maintain.  So this post is finally going up.  I’ll get a workout, and generally feel like myself again.  What a relief!

What with all these happenings, and with my reading of Quiet (finally) I’ve been having some interesting reflections.  I tend to think that our response to challenges say a lot about us.  But in order to respond, we have to know what is actually happening.  It’s probably somewhat obvious to frequent readers that I am a sensitive sort of human, prone to really thinking things through.  I’m realizing that in order to support my temperament I require a certain amount of quiet reflective time.  When I don’t have that time it’s all to easy for me to miss internal signals because I’m in a state of overwhelm.  This past week was full of such instances and the ensuing consequences.  So it would seem that I can only take so much boost before I run the risk of being a droop.  It’s partly why Pilates is so good for me because it is a moderate and meditative system of exercise.  But it’s also why I have to be careful to keep my ambitions in check.  The danger of my very active mind is that I suffer from over-inspiration.  Good to remember and another reminder of why it is so very helpful for me to have this space.  Not every idea requires action.  Some are best put into words on the screen to take shape in other sorts of ways.