Uncoil your spine

time together

Over a month ago a physiotherapist very kindly and thoroughly examined my reflexes and muscle strength and firmly recommended Pilates. It was this or no hope to my overstretched and exhausted backbone. I left the physiotherapist’s room relieved. I had my signpost now – to how to look after myself and tend to my body. I don’t know about you but I feel I need a bit of direction in that matter. Over the years I got somewhat detached from my physicality as other things just were much more important. Now, three years after pregnancy and this extensive period of lifting and moving around with a child, my body decided to remind me of itself. And it’s lovely that it did. Pain is such a beautiful thing sometimes, it’s a call for personal attention, a call that we just must eventually answer, embrace and respectfully respond to.

So I did. I responded to my battered back with a respectful tone of Pilates and… a new way of life and thinking has opened before me.

It’s interesting how often our body reflects back the quirks of our personality and how at times it calls for changes in our behaviour.

A month ago I lied down for the first time on my Pilates mat and as I was stretching my back I heard the warm voice of my instructor: Less haste. You must be carried by stamina not by momentum. Do it slowly. Stretch slowly.

My whole world view collapsed. And a new one started forming.

I observed people who exercised with me. There was a man and a girl who were stretching themselves with wonderful grace, and with wonderful control and technique. I admired them. No jerky movements, no rush to complete. Just grace.

Yesterday I was there again and while with some exercises I did not struggle at all to the extent that I almost felt that just after a month they became my second nature, some other exercises really pushed me hard. The contrast between the two experiences was so strong that it shocked me. How can one thing feel so easy and the other so difficult? One muscle overworked, the other left untouched. Can they not work in congruence? My instructor bent over me again: The strength will come. Just do it. Slowly. Progressively. You’ll gain control over it.

Ever since my son was born I feel that we all have been going through a lot of growth. That together we have been uncoiling our spines to become confident and straight-walking people. His spine has been uncoiling mainly in a physical sense as he slowly progressed from being a newborn to a walking and running child, my spine has been straightening and strengthening through a lot of questioning, personal challenges and strong internal debates about my values and place and vocation in life. Perhaps the reverse will need to be happening now: as my toddler enters the questioning phase, I will need to look after the practicalities of life and the physical side of my vertebrae.

Now I know how to. By stamina, not by momentum.

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