It’s a Pilates Reformer. Looks like a torture device, I know. Last week, I went back to Pilates after too long a break. This happened through a series of events that I believe were a conspiracy by the universe for me to “get” that I needed to “stretch” and not just physically.
I injured my heel and was told to skip dance class and heel impact for two weeks. That news was far worse torture than the machine pictured above. My husband reminded me to look at this as an opportunity to shake things up. My workouts have gotten same old/same old. He remarked that I was in the best shape of my life, strongest, when I took Pilates with Melissa 2-3 times a week. Problem is, Melissa’s nearest class is a bit more than an hour away. Clearly time to stop mourning the loss of this wonderful instructor [who is still a dear friend] and move on. I live in the “health mecca” of Upstate NY, Saratoga Springs! [When you drive into town the sign says HEALTH, HISTORY, HORSES – no joke, health is first and it’s everywhere.] No excuses, with my husband’s nudge I got on-line and went to a highly recommended studio, Reform, A True Pilates Studio. Just as I was about to complain that it’s too expensive, the classes are not convenient, I just can’t see how I can swing it, an email arrived from my friend Jen offering me a FREE [yes FREE] one hour private Pilates session. How could I possibly refuse? Proof that the universe conspiring in my favor.
Last Monday, my first session, I told my instructor, Cindy, about my bum heel. We did some mat work and then she put me on the Reformer. I had used one before, so already knew its capacity to help me “stretch” beyond, beyond. She kept checking in with me, making sure I was OK. I experienced an almost instantaneous “cure” of my heel pain when she had me hyper-flex my feet, in Pilates stance. My left calf went crazy with cramping, but I decided to breathe through it because somehow it felt restorative. I walked out with almost no pain and a renewed commitment to Pilates. By the time I ended my second session with Amy, almost exclusively on the Reformer, I was RE-hooked on Pilates. I have no pain, I’m back to my dance class and taking long walks [in my new sneakers].
Why share all this? It’s not that I believe that Pilates is “right” for everyone, even though it’s “right” for me. What I do believe is that each of us can find exactly the “right” form of moving, strengthening and, yes, stretching.
And that moving, strengthening and stretching isn’t just physical. For me it was a clear indicator of what’s been happening on a emotional and spiritual level. I’ve been pain. For more than a year I have been tied up, constricted, without even knowing it. I’d start to feel better, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and then crash. I believe I needed to have this physical breakthrough. I had to experience pain in my physical body and then a release of pain in order for me to “get it” on other levels. Though I’ve had a few helpful sessions with my chiropractor and a phenomenal release and balancing with my Biodynamic Cranio-Sacral therapist, Wendy, for some reason I needed to consciously participate in the stretch.
As I accepted exactly where I found myself , I determined I could make new choices. Walking into any new situation was uncomfortable, stretching, but by showing up as my vulnerable, authentic self, I experienced profound change.
A couple days after my first session, I attended a networking meeting and participated in a visioning session that caused me to cry because I had no clue what it meant. I felt deeply humbled and ready for a big shift, a big stretch. At the end of the meeting, I found myself spontaneously signing up for a 10-week class studying Entering the Castle by Caroline Myss with a group of 10 people I’ve never met before. Stretch.
I had been surrendering, as in giving up. I allowed myself to be in that place of constriction without being conscious of the impact. I don’t make it wrong. I guess I needed it for a while. Everything in the universe expands and contracts. One can’t exist without the other. But now it was time. Now surrendering from a place of acceptance and humility, knowing I still don’t know and trusting that not knowing is perfect. I believe that it’s time for me to stretch beyond the horizon I saw in my vision and trust that there are no accidents. I am being guided. I will continue to listen to my body, the whispers of the universe and the wisdom of my inner healer.