During my time in Norway, when we were away from much of civilization and disconnected from my life in the US, I really had time to think about what the word connection truly means. Pilates has helped me to really connect to every area of my life, mind, body and spirit. And from there, the outer world. I began wondering where connection comes from and why we are connected to certain things more than others. And of course, then I began wondering why it is that Pilates helps many find these connections.
This last few weeks I was blessed to spend time exploring Norway, the Arctic Circle, and trying to hunt down the Northern lights. It took a few days into our trip, but once North of the Arctic Circle, we were blessed every night with a spectacular show from mother nature. It was an incredible magic show which I have wanted to see my entire life, and you are never guaranteed to see. We stayed up late just waiting to see the lights. And if they weren’t out by the time you went to bed, you would keep the announcements on in your room and hope to be awakened by the captain announcing that the lights were in fact out. It was breathtaking.
On top of that magic, we also travelled through majestic fjords where you would see only farms off in the distance. Sea Eagles flew above diving into the sea and carrying off fish. The sunsets and sunrises were almost as incredible as the Northern lights themselves. Almost…
As I was on a small boat just absorbing everything around me I began thinking of the connection I have felt to Norway since I first went there thirteen years ago. I think it might have to do with the fact that it is the one time that I am completely absorbed in what’s going on around me because it is just so beautiful. I don’t want to miss anything. Norway has been the one place that I completely turn off technology and recapture what life is all about. Connection.
Connections are powerful. Whether it be with family, friends, co-workers, spouses, intimate relationships… connections are what keep us wanting more. Wanting to spend more time with the people we feel a deep connection with. Wanting to spend more time doing what helps us to connect. Wanting to find new ways to connect. It’s ultimately why we continue to participate in certain activities with certain people. Connections can completely immerse us and help us to live fully engaged. Connections help to relieve us from the troubles that enter our lives. Connections can bring us back to times and places that we have forgotten about. Connections are what help encourage us and keep us striving in life.
For me, I am most connected in nature. Especially when I am away from everything, disconnected from my phone. I find that I connect best to my mind, body and spirit when I am fully immersed in the world around me. When I am paying attention to what is going on around me.
So, what does any of this have to do with Pilates? Pilates is all about connections. It’s all about connecting your body to your mind. And once you’ve found that bodily connection, you carry it with you wherever you go. Ever since starting Pilates, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise I am doing, the instructors always tell me after how impressed they are with how connected I am to my body. It’s nothing I do. It’s just a feeling within that helps me get into every movement properly.
How do you learn to connect with Pilates? Well, you kind of just do over time. This is where practice makes you better. Not perfect, ever, but better! You learn that you absolutely have to find that connection to get the best results and most importantly, not hurt yourself. Connecting becomes almost automatic once you get started working out. With every move, you automatically know to check and make sure that your core is engaged and working, even when you’re doing something like squats. That connection begins to translate into every area of your life. When I’m beginning to feel lower back pain, I know that I need to pull my abs in a little deeper to engage them. When my knees feel like they are flaring up, I engage my core, which then engages my glutes, hamstrings and thighs, thus better supporting my knees. The body connection that Pilates creates begins to encourage a mind connection. Because of course, everything is, well, connected! Pilates also allows us to connect socially, whether in class or with an instructor, we are able to bond with those who share our common interests.
I have had a crazy month which led to taking some time off from my practice. But once you begin to feel and understand the connection that has been created, it stays within you. Of course, you won’t get the physical benefits of Pilates unless practicing! Which is a big positive in a regular practice! Connection happens in Pilates because even though we can be social during it, we do have to connect inward to ourselves. Which I personally believe leads to more confidence in ourselves and all that we do. And as many are learning, the better the connection to our self, the better our connection is to others and things around us. Connection has been proven imperative to our health. Begin to explore and discover where you fully feel connected. What fully engages you and pulls you makes you feel joy. Then immerse yourself as much as possible. Find a way to connect to the most important person there is…You!