Last year was crazy. But this year was going to be different… a transitionary year. An evaluative year. A go-with-the-flow kind of year.
In 2015, I travelled everywhere, looking for answers… looking for the right way to do things, the one way, the perfect movement solution - and I had learned so much over that year that my head was spinning.
I wasn’t sure how (or even if!) all the training would come together in my head - far less how to pass this learning on. I needed time for reflection and for thoughts to emerge and consolidate...
I went through a stage of losing my Pilates mojo, of wondering whether I'm making any difference at all; and whether I am too old, too unfit, too...?? to be doing physical instruction. Do I KNOW anything at all?
I hurt my back and was reminded about acute pain. “But you’re a Pilates Teacher! How did that happen?” A long story of tension and unfamiliar movement (and not doing what I preach) ….but Yes I know… if you move then you risk hurting yourself - it was a lesson learned in humility indeed. Not my first and probably not my last.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and played with different training (I even became a dance teacher for goodness sake!).
I experimented with different styles of yoga, I deepened my knowledge of biomechanics, I re-examined the needs of special populations - scoliosis, osteoporosis, seniors, breast cancer and foot mechanics; and I started being interested in different forms of meditation.
At the same time, I continued to follow the principles of natural movement with Katy Bowman (Biomechanist and founder of Nutricious Movement) and I experienced some significant and wonderful changes in my body - strengths and flexibility, movement combinations and an ease I haven't felt before.
Things I thought I would never be able to do again had become possible.
But it was through my growing interest in Mindfulness that I found the connections I was looking for… the glue that holds my training and teaching together.
I think that I teach people to Notice. Notice tension. When, where, how and why. In bringing ourselves to the mat, we settle... we draw attention to the breath and we "notice" our movement.
So… thought I. How do I get better at teaching Noticing?
I took a course in mindful drawing which reminded me how much I like to scribble; I started a regular and formal mindfulness practice, and began experimenting with different types of guided meditations. Yoga Nidra helped me heal my back and Loving Kindness meditation taught me to forgive myself for hurting it; and now my beautiful cushions help me remember to practice everyday.
I started bringing yoga into my Pilates classes, designed some beautiful Retreats with my inspirational friend Sandy; and by the end of the year, I had (of course) started mindfulness teacher training.
During my first weekend of listening to my teachers, I realised that I had been teaching mindfulness all along, using movement rather than stillness to bring people to their bodies. This IS the right decision... for now...
Perhaps this is my contribution, this is what I can offer... to help people notice… to introduce people to different ways to think about their body, not just in class but at home, at work, at play. In the hope that by bringing it to the conscious, by noticing, you can somehow improve it in line with what you want to achieve - whether that's less pain, to move more freely, prevent yourself falling over, walking further, tying your shoelaces, running faster, preventing leakage and prolapse…whatever it is you need or you want… notice what you do first...
The process of reflection is an important one and writing this yearly piece has helped me to notice, to glue together… I am looking forward to more consolidation in 2017 and I hope some of you will join me in embracing a more mindful path...
Here are some suggestions for those of you interested in Mindfulness, new to being present, or just want to slow things down and find calm amidst a stormy mind.
Wishing you peace, health and happiness for the year ahead.