This I Believe

Amy - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Entered on November 21, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

This I believe that in times of change, stress can rattle one’s cage and self-care is of utmost importance. In order to give back to family and community, one must first nurture one’s own mind, body and spirit. I believe Pilates contributes hugely to self-care. It requires concentration, control, rhythm and breath. In return, one gains strength, coordination and joy. It is breath and imagination that articulate the body and spirit.

Imagine the back as a billowing sail, the spine as a string of pearls, the torso as a column of light. I believe Pilates is a metaphor for the body in motion and that is poetry. Poetry makes the heart smile and that’s a beautiful thing!

This time, last year, I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer – never mind that I had just opened my own Pilates studio – I believe the Goddess had different plans for me. The journey was a descent into darkness as I succumbed to chemotherapy, pneumonia, surgery and radiation. My weight fell to ninety pounds and I looked like a plucked chicken.

My practice fell off as my health and spirit deteriorated. I had very little focus, as anyone going through chemo will tell you. But the journey held many gifts – the ability to see that that which I held in fear no longer had power over me. That freedom and joy lay deep in my core, if I could release the grief and fear into self-love. Cancer turned the light on. The desire to heal deeply was profound; I was inspired to take the descent and get to the gold; to live with heart, joy and peace.

Once I recovered from chemo and surgery, I started practicing Pilates again, and throughout radiation, I did it every day. Focus and flow returned. This is the other thing I believe: Pilates keeps me connected to my inner landscape and my shape in the world. A fundamental principal of Pilates is to circulate the breath through all the cells; this practice took me from a place of exhaustion to inspiration. Muscles in my body that were tight suddenly had permission to expand. Vertebras that were compressed became more mobile. Pilates made me stronger, more flexible and more open: dis-ease free.

I believe that in these tumultuous times, my practice of Pilates keeps me sane. We all need to stay connected to our center. I highly recommend Pilates as part of your self-care routine. Find that “answering smile” in your core. It is there – this I believe.