you tell me, friend. i don’t know what your “right and wrong” scale is.
moi? i don’t have one. especially for you. especially for movement. sometimes your choreography may look different than what i envisioned. i see that has a sign of your own brilliant awareness and your deep listening to your body. it makes me so excited for you and our partnership. it’s reassuring that i’m teaching the way i want to teach.
but wait - where’d my body go? i’ve heard that pregnancy is a means to an end, and that it’s okay, i’ll soon have my body back. i know this is meant to soothe me as i’m an active person living in an active body. and i truly appreciate this sentiment. thank you. but i believe the assumption is, perhaps, that i somehow feel limited with this pregnant belly and all the sensations that go along with it.
i’m here to tell you that the opposite is true. sure i have my fears about stretch marks and the extra weight. that’s partly hormones, partly ego. i definitely need to rest more, and i don’t mind going for slow, short walks these days. it’s difficult to put my socks on, rolling over in bed is a challenge, and every time i get up out of a chair, i need to fully engage my breath and use my arms to support my growing belly. i suppose all those shifts may seem limiting. but “limiting” simply isn’t the correct word. it’s a different experience, for sure! and actually, i think all of it is pretty hilarious. i mean, i can’t put my socks on easily anymore. that’s freaking funny.
honestly, my body has never been his alive, and i have never been this deeply in awe of what my body is doing. and i’ve done some stuff in my time. i trekked the 40 mile Maryland stretch of the Appalachian Trail in a single day; i climbed Mt. Whitney in about 17 hours; i danced continuously for 3 weeks in Durham, NC during American Dance Festival; i travelled to India and danced 10 performances in 13 days; i decided to begin running 5K races and either won my age group or overall female. i say this not to toot my horn (toot! toot!) but just to give everyone you a sense of the physicality i’ve engaged in over my 40 years on this planet.
that is the question, really. if you’ve ever taken class with me, you know that i like variety. you do too - you’ve told me so! so thanks for that. it’s also the same approach i take to setting a daily workout regimen or fitness “goals”. i know some of us lament not being able to set a daily routine. moi aussi! but here’s the thing: it seems that every time i resolve - out loud, or in my calendar, or simply telepathically to myself - something, i.e. my body, objects. why? because our bodies know what’s best. period. and sometimes a repetitive routine simply ain’t it.
when i was a young competitive gymnast, my lungs and left lower back objected at certain points in my training to the extreme and repetitive movement, stress and chalk. as a 19 year old Division I athlete, my left knee objected to the lack of sleep and shit diet i subscribed to my first two years of college. eventually, those injuries and misalignments added up to a mysterious lower back/hip thing - the PT i went to for help said, incredulously, “did you pull your glute max?” - when i decided to run 5K races in my mid-twenties whilst continuing to dance professionally. in graduate school for dance and choreography - though i survived a full professional, 15-year dance career - my left hip (do you see a pattern??) developed a pull injury that physical therapy sorta helped. and most recently, my pregnant body and lax ligaments objected to my resolve to practice a 10 minute weights and balance regimen every day. i was super excited to discover a squat and balance flow - nothing crazy y’all - and literally said out loud, “i’m gonna do this every day!” welp, the next morning, my right elbow said, “nope, you’re not!” as i was in quite a bit of “tennis elbow” discomfort, apparently, a normal side-effect of pregnant bodies.
i realize i’m able-bodied and extremely fortunate to have been able to perform at a high level of sports and physical movement in general over a long period of time. if i want to continue i ABSOLUTELY MUST listen to my body. i’m getting better at letting go of the urge to, in some ways, force my body to comply with what my brain thinks is best.
i’ve always known, felt, and appreciated the deep core. from allowing me to cast to handstand on bars as a young competitive gymnast, to running fast down the lacrosse field, to hanging upside down on the Cadillac, to feeling connected in hamstrings series on the Gyro Tower. i’ve just never quite known, felt, and appreciated their full importance as the true center of being until now, during ma grossesse, my pregnancy.
i’m a pilates teacher, so of course j’adore the “core”. but oh my universe! do i have a newfound appreciation for it now that all of it - front, back, side-to-side, abdominals, back, hips, pelvic floor and diaphragm - are growing, expanding, shifting, and/or squishing beyond what seems possible, all on top of and around the bébé inside. here’s a few examples of what i mean; lately, i totes feel the importance of my abbies especially when -
except, it’s not. i’m convinced there’s no such thing as “the little things”. stopping to smell the roses. opening the door to a neighbor when you can see they’re struggling with groceries. picking up trash that isn’t yours at your local park. reaching out to a friend because they popped into your head. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SMALL IN THESE GESTURES DRIVEN BY LOVE. ‘cause that’s what they are. and any time we bring LOVE into our lives and share it, it’s a MASSIVE, HUGE, EXPANSIVE act. plain and simple.
maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones in me talking… but the other day i was taking a walk in our jardin - it’s something i’ve been making a point of doing because where we live in the campagne there’s really no safe place to walk without being startled by a massive tractor rolling up the road - and i found the most perfect fraise, a strawberry. i wasn’t looking for it, i simply happened up on it. i didn’t even know we had a strawberry patch randomly situated in a corner of the yard. it made me so happy to cup this little gem of life in my hand as i continued on my walk and YES! smelled the almost neon-pink roses that popped up overnight. that “little thing”, that slice of perfection grew from one of the tiniest of seeds that is now stuck into it’s flesh. and when i ate it - which i certainly did - that sweet life force is now stuck in me. there is nothing small in that.
i'm stephanie. my last names mean "hedgehog" in Czech and "pretty calf" in French. i have an MA from Oxford in English lit, and a MFA from Riverside in experimental choreography. i like to write. i have lots of thoughts on the body. and i want to help you understand your own better. oh, i'm also plant-based and love to bake with vegan ingredients.