“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” - Proverb
I am grateful for YOU. The way you show up for yourself. The way you ask questions and dig deeper into the work. The way you share who you are with me. The way you agree to try - and succeed with - the seemingly-impossible things I ask of you. The way you take the time to feel the sensations this beautiful work instills in your beautiful being. Thank you. Truly. Another sensation we can actually feel is gratitude. In fact, we feel all emotions in our body. That's why a smile adorns your face when you're happy; or you feel heavy when you're sad; or you feel momentarily peeved when I ask you to do 10 more bridges. (Sorry, not sorry.)
Plus, research shows that demonstrating gratitude can reduce pain, release toxic emotions, regulate stress, and reduce anxiety and depression. Much like we must practice Pilates to get stronger in our core, we must practice gratitude to feel it in our body and gain all those positive physiological side effects. Look your cashier in their eye and say Thank You. Give your partner a squeeze when they do the dishes. Tell yourself you’re grateful for your beautiful body and all it allows you to do. It literally does your body good - deep into your core - to practice gratitude.
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 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?
I've discovered over the years of moving and teaching movement that when it comes to waking up the body, nothing beats the bodymind work of Pilates. It comes down to this: some exercises and ways of moving simply are better than different kinds - especially in the morning. Now, I need to qualify that word, "better". By "better", I am referring to methods of movement that engage our body and wake up neuromuscular pathways in a more mindful, efficient, and holistic way. I love cardio. I love riding my bike and getting outside. But Pilates, though quite intense, as you well know, is designed to use the least amount of energy to achieve the deepest work. That's why I practice mat Pilates in the morning to wake up my body, I take deep breaths before I look at my phone, and the first thing I ingest is H2O - and lots of it! And you should too. Yup. Here's a few more tidbits why being good to your body in the morning sets you up for the rest of your day - let's make it a good one.
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.