‘Pilates and Yoga Changed my Life‘ — sounds a bit extreme and sensationalist doesn’t it? But never a truer word was written. It really has.
The journey of life, the ups and downs, it is all part of who we are. On the yoga mat, there is a dance with struggle. With pain, with fear, with the unknown, the broken, the hurt, and the sweetness.
Different poses evoke different emotions.
Yogalates forced me to look at myself in the mirror. To face the cloud of sadness that flooded my soul. Looking into my own eyes in a mirror felt completely uncomfortable until it didn’t. I had to push through the awkwardness and the struggle.
In all the chaos that life presents; the constant merry-go-round of juggling work, being a responsible adult — an hour or two a week where you can reset your mind (and body) is invaluable. But even more than giving me some much-needed headspace and a clear perspective, Yogalates has performed a little miracle over the last 10 years that I’ve been practicing.
Once upon a time…
…I suffered really badly with back pain and overall body weakness
Initially back pain; Marfan syndrome (https://www.marfan.org/about/marfan) and kyphosis. But as my poor body tried to compensate for poor posture — brought on by the pain I was in — my upper back also began to suffer the effects; and my thoracic spine became immobile and painful too.
I had my first lumbar punch at the age of 9 (https://www.healthline.com/health/lumbar-puncture) along with lots of consultant appointments. I saw different practitioners to try and solve the problem.
I’ve had cortisone injections, so many at a stage that I looked like a balloon. Literally the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced — and definitely not something I ever want to repeat.
I was under the imaginatively pain medication, where ‘managing your pain’ was the phrase I heard repeatedly.
Now, this isn’t a pity party.
And I didn’t necessarily want to write a post about my musculoskeletal ailments either. But to support the title of this post, I really wanted give a little back history.
If you’ll pardon the pun.
I found a reputable Pilates and Yoga teacher and decided to leave my pain in the past and try to fix my problems once and for all. My rib cage, core, and shoulders hurt more than I ever remember in my life. Privately practicing in my room at night, tears streamed down my face. I could not get this pose.
I can still hear my teacher saying: “You are not supporting yourself. If you don’t take care of you, who will?”
Pilates And Yoga certainly didn’t offer a quick fix. I spent quite a lot of time thinking of pilates and yoga and “how long before I see results?’ but I guess I could have asked ‘how long is a piece of string?’
Initially I found it very hard.
My back was pretty rigid — especially in the thoracic spine. Even the simplest movements were tricky and it took me a while to understand that, in order for the movements to make a real difference, posture and alignment were everything. In the past, when I’d attended exercise classes, there was a culture for everyone in the class to be moving at the same pace — generally swiftly — doing the same movements, in the same way.
And little by little — week by week — my back began to loosen up and my body began to get stronger and stronger. My body has gone from being weak and painful, to incredibly strong and capable. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% pain-free; I still get off days, when my hips lock and my spine and neck is stiff, but if I look back, to a decade ago, I can really see how my personal style of Yogalates changed my life for the better.
As well as improving my body strength and posture, it gives me an hour of ‘me-time’ each day. And I hope to give some of this to you.
It’s introduced me to some lovely members of my local yoga and Pilates community — who I probably otherwise wouldn’t have met. Made amazing friends. But best of all, it has given me a sense of control back.
Having the knowledge to move in ways that protect my back — rather than aggravate it — and helping me to achieve good posture and a strong core is the most incredible gift I could have gifted myself with.
Initially loads of Dr’s, etc… used to call it ‘a little bit of stretching’ but it’s so much more than that.
Somehow I made a connection, and my body started adjusting. The internal struggle was real. And that is when I knew yoga and Pilates in conjunction was not about my mat. It was about understanding who I was. Accepting who I was. Loving my curves. Loving my scars. Loving myself. Loving my pain. And then sharing my gifts.
Yoga was never about getting the stretch, it was about comforting and healing my heart. Letting go of my pain. My fear. My complexities of who I was because of the what society told me I should be. I came to realize the missing links inside of me and learned that the only way to heal my broken self was through my personal self-care. I had to let go of the negative and learn to say:
“I am beautiful.”
“I am perfect ”
“I am whole”
“I am complete”
“I am love.”
“I am grace.”
And the most important, “I love myself.”
I had followed blindly inside the box of the structured belief system I was told I should have. Then yoga started poking breathing holes into my box. Light started appearing, and I could taste more.
I had to let go of the story that I should have been a certain way (maybe even a sickly child and adult) but I refused. Yoga grounded me, helping me find my inner peace. It connected me to my strengths and my weaknesses, allowing me to focus on my consciousness. Bringing good energy into my life, and releasing the negative. Releasing the negative also released things and people from my life that were not part of my healed consciousness. It brought about change and the thirst for more knowledge of the things I loved.
Translating into a thirst for life, adventure, and connection.
Happy Ever After?
Yoga and Pilates was my personal eat, pray, love journey of discovering myself and the connection of my gifts and life experiences to find my joy.
I am a “yogi”. I meditate, do yoga, take a hike in nature, or dip my toes in the sand and water on a beach.
My favorite: And often I take a flight to surf above the clouds. (Airy fairy)
The practice of yogalates is really about bringing everything together for oneness and stillness to become an observer of who you are.
When I am in a place of stillness, I observe, which leads to discovery. Discovery provides an opportunity for change, and change leads to connecting wholeheartedly.
I saved my life, relationships that did not align with my soul, and the pain I brought on myself. I cleared the clouds, to soar to the sky. Surfing above the clouds, I was reminded to give myself daily nourishment of self-love.
We are not the stories we tell ourselves, or that others tell of us. Understanding this, broke down the walls of the box, and my stories, providing peace. Self-love opened my heart, allowing me to live in a world without confinement.
Whatever your Yogalates is, you can breathe new life, with love. Seek the place where your oneness can be nurtured, and you to can be soulful.
Pilates, Meditation and Yoga has changed my body, my state of mind and my social-life — I totally love it.
Not bad for ‘a little bit of stretching’.
If I can do it, so can you!