I had loved Pilates for many years. As a former competitive dancer, it was the only thing that seemed to help some of the persistent pain that lingered in my body. I loved learning about how to move my body more efficiently, and I loved the feeling of length and space that I felt in my body after a class. I took a break from my Pilates class during each of my pregnancies, returning as soon as I was able to fit it into my schedule.
A month before my second child was born, my mom and uncle died suddenly in a car accident. My world broke apart. Although it was difficult being in groups of people, I decided to return to Pilates, because I knew that moving was something I loved, I had since I was a young girl. Attending my weekly class was a safe haven for me. It was a place where I could go, where all of my thinking was about how I was moving. In my day-to-day life, I was being constantly bombarded by thoughts about death, my parents, and worries about what bad things might happen next. There was no space for these thoughts at Pilates.
Lost in a sea of anxious thoughts, I no longer knew who I was anymore. I had lost my body awareness. Most of the time I did not know how I was feeling, or what my body was telling me. For the first time in my life, Pilates was serving a new purpose for me. It was giving me a reprieve from my overactive mind, reducing my anxiety, and reconnecting me to myself.
At home, when I would attempt to quiet my mind, I would fall asleep. I was so exhausted from the high stress and anxiety levels, that the second my body found stillness, I fell asleep. Pilates created a venue where I could quiet my mind and instead of putting me to sleep, it was energizing. It created a place where I could practice the skill of quieting my mind. Pilates reminded me that we are not our thoughts. To be at Pilates, was to be in the present moment. The more I experienced that feeling on the mat, the more I wanted to recreate it off the mat.
Pilates has been a gift in my life. The stillness it brought has taught me to move, to breathe, to be present, to be myself, my whole self, and be okay with that. The mat doesn’t feel uncomfortable if my tears come, it doesn’t ask me to ignore pain or negative feelings, and it accepts me for exactly who I am. Feelings just want to be felt. Pilates has let me feel. And, the funny thing is, once I allow myself to feel, the joy comes. Not always happiness, but certainly joy. I would choose joy over happiness every day of the week.