29 Aug Cultivating Awareness: My #1 Life Hack
On my most recent visit to the dentist (not an exciting way to start a story, I know) the hygienist picked up on some wear on my bottom front teeth. After a bit of detective work, she hypothesised that it was most likely old damage caused by grinding, not something that I’m in the habit of these days but, still, it was something to be mindful of. She also suggested that the grinding WASN’T happening at night; rather it was something I did during the day when absorbed in deep concentration. She recommended that over the next few months I simply bring awareness to releasing tension in my jaw. We discussed various ways of going about this: leaving sticky notes on my work computer was a good one, as I suspect prolonged periods of screen time is a hot contender for the cause of the problem. Other than the wear on my bottom teeth, I got a gold star for good dental health + was soon out of the office + getting on with the rest of my morning.
Throughout the day I continued to reflect on our discussion + had somewhat of an epiphany: awareness is key to… pretty much everything. As a Pilates instructor, the one thing I see students struggle with the most is NOT lazy glutes or lack of flexibility or even a weak core (though Pilates is GREAT for helping improve all of these things); it is actually lack of body awareness. Where are you in space? What is each part of your body doing in an exercise? If you asked me summarise what we teach in Pilates, I would say it’s to become AWARE of our bodies. In each exercise we go through a body scan – from top to toe or the other way around – which not only ensures proper alignment + form, but ‘tunes you into’ your internal state. You’ll know you’ve entered a class when you see expressions of compete concentration on students’ faces. Thoughts of what you had for breakfast or what you need to do after class disappear as the mind has much to occupy itself with in the present moment.
‘Focussed mind, controlled movement’; this is the language + feeling of Pilates. As teachers, we can help you to develop + improve your body awareness through a variety of means: verbal cues + imagery, tactile cues + the use of small apparatus such as resistance bands, gliding discs + chiballs. We start with small, isolated movements, + add layers of challenge, before progressing to full-body integrated sequences. Through repetition, we get to a stage where cues become redundant as the body just ‘knows’ what to do + how to hold itself. In this way, what we learn inside the classroom translates into everyday life; we stand taller as we brush our teeth, we move easily + effortlessly as we transition from supine to sitting to standing, we breathe more efficiently, we think more clearly… many little things improve which then gives rise to big change. It’s not just about what you do in class; the movement strategies you learn are powerful, transformative + can help you to live + feel better.
You can get your dose of mind-body integrated movement with me every Wednesday at 8.00am, Wednesdays @ 7.00pm + Saturday at 8.30am (I’m also thinking of adding a Monday morning class – any interest?)
Click here to book: https://claritymassageandwellness.gettimely.com/book?location=67347&category=6208&staff=202524
Julia, Mat Pilates Instructor