For me, gratitude, it's always been an overwhelming feeling, akin to joy. It usually brings tears to my eyes, and yet I'm smiling; it's warming and heavy at the same time; it at once makes my body swell and feel weightless.
In a time when California and all Californians are reeling from the largest and most devastating wildfires in its history - and we're all feeling that weight, that helplessness, that heaviness - it's perhaps difficult to to feel gratitude. We may feel guilty for what we have while so many are experiencing such loss.
Gratitude for me is full of opposites. Pilates is full of opposites, plus energetic balancing and awareness. And now, more than ever as we get closer to Black Friday and the holidays, and school breaks, and winter vacations, it's important to remember that doing your body good, does other bodies (and some would argue, energetically, the entire world) good too.
Not only is that true on Stranger Things, the Netflix series that has me feeling so nostalgic for my American, suburban childhood and Christmases, but it's also true when we invert our relationship to gravity.
There are very few goals I set for myself, not because I'm not ambitious, or because I'm not motivated. It's because for me, if I set a goal, I have typically found a way to reach it - regardless of how it suits my emotional and physical health. In my twenties, it seemed like a totally logical and good idea to trek the 40 miles of the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trial in one day. And to get up at 4:30 am to go for a run to beat the summer Washington, DC humidity.
Now, in my late thirties, I realize that my body is different every single day, and I want to listen to it more. Now, I seek out ways to balance myself, my life, and my day-to-day emotional state. Goals sometimes hinder my own bodymind connection.
This all may sound counterintuitive. But so is floating in a bridge with the Wunda Chair. Really, Stephanie? you want me to push DOWN on the pedal to float UP?
It amazes me to think that as a kid during the summer, I would wake up, be driven to Elite Gymnastics in Waldorf, MD, an hour away from Columbia, where I grew up and proceed to bend, flex, arch and curl in extreme ways as part of the warm-up that bodies go through when training in competitive gymnastics – and then spend another 6 hours practicing skills, 5 days a week. Or even that not that long ago I would wake up at 5:30 am and get my run on throughout the neighborhood, pounding the pavement in an effort to get my 5K under 20 minutes (which I finally did, once, thank you very much.)
Fast forward to the present, where I wake up, sit on the edge of my bed, and yawn and stretch and take deep breaths, before I take a moment or 2 to close my eyes and focus on my day. Then I get up, visit the bathroom, visit the kitchen and start the hot water as I drink a big glass of lemon water, maybe yawn some more, and eventually drink my tea, head to the studio to lay on the roller or do some arch and curl on the Gyrotonic tower or footwork on the Reformer. Only then do I feel ready to focus on my clients and the rest of my day. The older I get, the more value I place on warming up and waking up - inside and out. Plus, the kinder and gentler we can be to our bodies and minds and spirits is simply better, and here are a few reasons why:
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.
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Saturday: 9am - 3pm
Wednesday & Sunday: Closed