November is a time to reflect on our lives, our family, our friends, and our community. Just as our TriPilates tribe of students is steadily growing, so is our amazing group of teachers. It blows my mind that for 18 years, I was hooked on cigarettes and 30 years ago this weekend, right before Thanksgiving, I smoked my last cigarette!
I’ve quit many things in my life, this was the hardest. I was a pack a day, Camel filter chain- smoker. It started at 16 with Newport – ahh – you know – the menthol made my appetite smaller. Teased about my big butt as a young teen, this became a solution. If I smoked cigarettes, I ate less. Plus, it tasted like sweet candy.
Twelve years later, I coughed so hard I cracked a rib. A week-long program taught me tools to help me quit, like sipping air through a cinnamon stick while I had my morning coffee, and using lovely almond soaps, and of course, exercise. I was re-learning the art of of self-care.
Prior to “picking up,” I was an athlete, running stadiums to prepare for slalom ski racing. It began again with a run around the block, then two, then more and more, learning to run during my lunch hour break at work. Got all the way to 5 miles, then stopped running, it just “wasn’t for me.” My lungs felt clear and I soon found Ashtanga yoga, which I did for quite a few years.
One of my fellow yogi’s told me about a great new alternative class that was supposed to be “more core.” Thinking it was pronounced “pie – lates,” I found myself in a large group of over 30 students moving around on a floor mat quite awkwardly. Unable to do an exercise called “tree” very well, I approached the teacher after class to ask about private lessons. I do recall feeling very inspired and having to breathe deeply, in a different way than in my yoga classes.
“Therefore, above all, learn how to breathe correctly. ‘SQUEEZE’ EVERY ATOM OF AIR FROM YOUR LUNGS UNTIL THEY ARE ALMOST AS FREE OF AIR AS IS A VACUUM.” p. 23 Joe Pilates, Return to Life
Private Pilates lessons began some 15 years ago, each and every time I learn something new about myself, my body, my mind, and my breath. I am eternally grateful for the path Pilates has taken me on, all starting with a decision to let go and do something different. Joe Pilates was an asthmatic and created these exercises initially to facilitate his own breathing! He italicized the sentence above for a reason! The more you expel stale air, you automatically refill with new, life-giving oxygen. The Introduction to Return to Life explains the effect:
“For it develops not only the muscles of the body, suppleness of the limbs, and functioning of vital organs and endocrine glands; it also clarifies the mind and develops the will.”
It has been said that Joe was years ahead of his time. Agreed! I am a forever student of Pilates in my own body, mind, and spirit; the rewards are good health, an active, creative mind, and a life beyond my wildest dreams. Initially my private lessons were “time for me” to counter the demands of raising four children! The fact is, the more we do Pilates, the more we love what we do.
As this year draws to a close, our “THANKSgiving” goes to all of you reading this blog. Thank you for your enthusiasm for Pilates, for your friendship and support over the days, months, and years. Thank you for your commitment, for learning that Pilates is actually an awareness of how we live each day, how we move and breathe. Thank you for seeking a path that allows you to live a better life! This is the truth.
Our theme this year has been “Remember to Breathe in 2016,” partly to remember my late husband who struggled with breathing the last few years of his life. The “giving” part of thanksGIVING has allowed me to let go of the past – my addiction to smoking, for instance – and find instead a life truly worth living! Teaching brings us joy – to witness our own steadfastness as we walk through the challenges in life, and to partner with you by teaching Pilates as you move through your own life changes and growth. Pilates is truly a lifestyle practice, we do our best always to challenge our growing community.