Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | May 8, 2010

Finding My Body in Pilates

I have been dealing with some body image struggles recently and really wanted to find a physical activity that would make me feel good and connected to my body. I danced all my life until college and only off and on during college, but in the last 8 years my fitness has dropped off the radar. I recently started following a lot of the fitblog people on Twitter and have been inspired to look into making changes in my life. Recovery and life to me means body, mind and spirit, but for the last few years my focus has been very much on my mind and behaviors with regards to food, that the abilities of my body have been ignored.

I had tried yoga a few months back but it just didn’t connect with me. I struggled for a half an hour telling my head to quiet down, to stop thinking, be mindful and feel connected. I tried to not feel uncomfortable with the moves, how my body felt during the movements and in the end the entire thing felt very forced. It was a wonderful workout, but for me, it didn’t fit.  I only went to one class, and I am aware there are many types of yoga, and I am sure there may be a yoga style I could find and enjoy; I really was seeking something different. I wanted a connection I had felt when dancing. 

It is too difficult to briefly describe what dancing meant to me in my life. It was a sense of peace, calmness, an oneness in my body. I always felt great freedom in dance for being able to express myself in ways nothing else has given me. I loved choreographing, performing, and taking classes. I never felt insecure dancing, once the music was on, it was everything was transformed and all that mattered was doing the moves, expressing the feeling, and conveying an energy.

I know many dancers have gone into Pilates, and have watched for years all the infomercials on the machines with great interest. I wanted to try because I didn’t want to feel like I was “having” to work out; I wanted to find something I loved and enjoyed doing. I struggle with trying new things, and have a harder time committing myself to them as well when it comes to fitness.  So I reached out on Twitter and Lisa Johnson, an amazing woman who is the founder and owner of Modern Pilates, gave me a recommendation of a place she knew of in Arlington where I live. I emailed the owner, and within minutes was invited to try a class out for free today.

I went to the class with no expectations, and pure excitement. I haven’t been this excited to work out in a LONG time. I went, while it was storming, on a Saturday morning after only sleeping for 6 hours, and didn’t even consider not going. The moment I stepped in the space, I felt comfortable. It reminded me of a dance studio, with a mirror, wood floors, and set up. There were only 9 of us, so we all had our own space and everyone was really friendly and knew one another from other classes.

The class was challenging, and tiring, and while I knew I wasn’t able to do all the moves the entire time, I was able to do modified versions of each move and felt energized to keep up. It was as if my body knew what to do. The core principles of dance, the core, the turn out of the feet, the stability of the hips and holding poses, all felt like home. My body would shake in certain positions, but I never felt one ounce of “I can’t do this, I suck, and I should give up.” My mind was quiet, and focused in the moment, on the moves, and didn’t wander once. Everything I have heard from people in how they speak of yoga was what I experienced in this Pilates class.

I am looking forward to signing up for unlimited classes and going a few times a week to build up my strength. After the class I felt strong, centered, and appreciative of my body. I felt humbled and calm. No inner chatter, no body image attack, and no crap self talk existed before, during, or since the class today. I connected with my body, appreciated it, challenged it, and respected its ability at this point in time, knowing in the future I will only get stronger and more able to do all the moves. I am excited for the first time in a long time for something.

I hope to get to a place where I am strong enough and centered with my body to go back to dancing. I hope once I move back to California I will find some classes and integrate Pilates and dance. The compliment and balance one another. Having two sprained ankles, one of which I tore all the ligaments in my foot, I know the challenge I face, but I am looking forward to this new journey. I feel being connected with my body, and taking care of it, will lead to a better respect of how I treat my body with my internal thoughts. When I danced, I didn’t crucify nor attack my body, and while this was only one class, it gives me such joy that I have found a new way to find a sense of peace within my core. It was as if my body, mind and soul all connected at once, and I feel very blessed today to have an able body, and hope to continue along this journey, and share with all of you my growth and progress in body and mind.

I feel as if I have come home and found my body in Pilates.

How about you? Have you ever found an activity that connected you with your body? How was your first experience with this? Was it therapeutic for you?

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Responses

  1. I’ve felt the same way with Bikram Yoga- all sweaty, so strong, focused and refreshed. Even though I’ve been “recovered,” taking care of myself didn’t seem so hard after because I wanted to for the sake of yoga. I love it 🙂

  2. Your post is very inspiring! I’m glad that you have found something that has allowed you to reconnect you to your love of dance.

    I first started getting involved in dance during middle school and continued throughout college. Dance brought me such peace. I joined the dance ministry at my church and I love it. I haven’t been able to participate in the class as much as I would like, due to my eating disorder. But, this week I was finally allowed to practice full out. It was great. I will be performing tomorrow to celebrate Mother/Woman’s day and I can’t wait.

    Again, Congratulations, on finding that connection with yourself and your love of dance!!

    April
    http://www.twitter/com/sweetspirit98

  3. I love Power Yoga. But I may love Pilates more…so glad you found something you love in Pilates!

  4. 🙂 yay for pilates!! I finally got around to reading this haha.

    That’s how I feel horseback riding. My mind goes quiet and I focus on my body and how I’m using it to tell the horse what I want him/her to do.

    I also have really enjoyed hula hooping. I never connected with yoga either, but I would like to try again some day. But I think I am drawn toward exercise where my body is in communion with something else. With the hoop I focus on where it’s hitting to keep it up on my waist, or let it onto my hips and hold it there, or down to my knees. The focus it takes to neck hoop and each arm up one after the other while keeping the hoop going… I need that focus of an outside source vs. just me doing movements in my body.

    Even swimming! It’s my body moving against the water… wow this is a very interesting realization haha. Thanks!

  5. I think it’s a wonderful thing that you’ve found something that keeps you so in sync and connected with your inner most being. Seriously. I’m glad that a Pilates class can do that for you.

    For me, even though it isn’t exactly an ‘exercising activity, Crocheting does that for me. I know in a lot of treatment centers, they teach that. I didn’t realize how well it worked until I picked up on the hobby myself. Cycling works for me as well, but I don’t want to do it excessively, so I don’t do it as much as I’d like.

  6. I’m so happy to hear you had a positive experience! I’ve had a similar experience with Pilates – I used to be a singer and my core was FIT as hell but after I stopped singing I never worked out and my body image really suffered. I finally discovered Pilates eight months ago and I have been ADDICTED. I go several times a week and am about to pursue certification as a Pilates instructor – I truly believe finding Pilates unlocked something in me that I had been missing, and it’s completely helped transform not only my body but my life. I, who failed gym in high school because I couldn’t do even one push up, can do so much with my body now. It’s helped me connect with myself, physically and mentally, and really helped me heal. Pilates is some amazing stuff!!

  7. I am so glad that you found a new way to love your body and feel at home in your skin. It is seriously SO freaking important. I am experimenting with a couple little ideas for myself after reading this post, I’ve got to get moooooving. xoxoxox

  8. So incredibly grateful to have found your blog! I can relate completely to the way you describe your body’s response to dance. I’ve been wanting to find something that doesn’t feel quite so much like an organized “work-out,” and I think I found it yesterday by essentially dancing around like a fool for thirty minutes. I just blogged about this yesterday, actually, if you’re interested!

    Can’t wait to read more of your seriously beautiful blog!

  9. Great post, K. I found and lost my body in Karate. A long story, but after many years, not a great fit. Now I run and pray and find God in my shuffle and jog. And whereever I go, there God is. Turns out for me that the saying is true: I can run but I can’t hide. . .
    Peace.

  10. I’ve learned to love weight training. I wish I had discovered years before I did. It’s a wonderful hypnotic, repetitive behavior that requires deep contemplation. I’ve learned that it has very little to do with manipulating objects in physical space but everything to do with looking deep inside one’s self and learning to merge the self with the physical body.


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