We hear a great deal these days about mindfulness, being present, and mind body connection. I am a certified Pilates and, more recently, yoga teacher, and I’ve always enjoyed these practices. Like a lot of people, I came to Pilates and yoga because a friend brought me to a class. Growing up, I wasn’t much of a sports athlete, but I was in dance classes and Pilates and yoga fit into that kind of mold for me as an adult.
I was recently at a workshop for teachers that focused on considering the link between happiness and lower back health. That really got me thinking more deeply about how emotional and mental health are related to physical health. Over the past decade, I’ve seen many examples of how pain can cause anxiety and depression, and that causes more pain, and it can just snowball. But recently I’ve been thinking more about how I feel about my own body. I’ve realized that I felt like I took good care of it, and then it went and got a brain tumour. That makes me a little mad, if I’m honest.
I think a lot of people must feel this way when they receive an unanticipated diagnosis, as if they’ve been betrayed by their own bodies. I’ve been doing some yoga workshops recently and investing time in teacher training. It has occurred to me that one of the greatest gifts this pursuit gives me is not being more fit, or more mindful, more present, learning relaxation and breathing and meditative techniques. Those are all good, but the greatest thing is that I’m making up with my body. I’m remembering to feel gratitude for the wonderful things it does, the amazing ways it works, and the improvements and changes it is capable of. I am learning to forgive it and admire it. I feel better about allowing it the accommodation it needs, instead of trying to push through and regretting it. For example, I know that running or working out hard raises my heart rate too much, and results in headaches. The same with advanced inversions in yoga, headstands and the like. I am learning to be okay with limitations and to give my body what it needs and not be resentful over the things it doesn’t like.
This is a little epiphany for me, so I wanted to share it. And I wanted to say thank you to the people who have helped bring me along to this path, all the teachers I’ve had along the way – Joan, Caroline, Jodi, Kelly, Kelley, Jennifer, Chelsea, Sara, Evelyn, Miranda, Gary, Debbie, Shelly, Kathleen and Doug. And thanks to all the students I’ve had as well, who always teach me as much as I teach them.