I hope you enjoy my latest video
Here’s what you can expect
I hope you enjoy my latest video
Here’s what you can expect
“life is all about figuring it out”
“courage is required to change our minds when we realize that we are merely instruments of it’s will and it is HIS will we ought to fulfill”
“there is no difference between the sea and the waves. When a wave swells, it is made of water. When it breaks against the sand it is also made of water. Everything and everybody is the same, this is the mystery and the end”
In the following I reflect on my own practice of doing a handstand. I chose to write a little something on this topic, in hopes to shed a light on how the practice of Pilates and the practice of doing a handstand are very similar.
A couple reasons why PILATES and HANDSTANDS are similar…
I could keep going as I truly love going upside down and probably do it at least once a day (several/day if I am in Hawaii enjoying he beach:)). My family knows that handstands just make me feel better! Please know that I understand handstands are not for everyone, as there are always exceptions, however just the practice of imagining yourself balancing upside down can teach you a lot if you think about what is required. For me, practicing handstands has been one of my best teachers in figuring out what my body needs more of to balance as one piece!
MY journey doing a handstand started after I saw Pontus do one up against a wall as part of his push-up exercise routine (we were just newly weds at the time). I thought to myself, that is so amazing, and thought I would love to be able to do that! I tried, but completely collapsed on the ground after trying to kick up several times. Not too long after that experience my Anusrara yoga teacher at that time in Des Moines Iowa(Brett Berlin-Scott) started having the class practice handstands in most if not all her classes. I remember dreading this portion of the class (in the beginning), as I was one of the only one(in the beginning) who could not get my feet up and over my head. I was very embarrassed especially as I was also probably the youngest in the class(24 at the time). In fact, I believe several times in class I made a point to go to the bathroom just to have an excuse not to participate in that portion of the class. However with more practice, understanding of body mechanics and a courageous determined spirit I was committed to learning how to do a handstand. Therefore, it wasn’t long until I was able to kick up into some contortion of a handstand resembling what you call a “banana back.” Fast forward several more years of practice and I am able to pull myself up into a handstand that is strong, connected, and resembles one piece.
Currently I enjoy doing a handstand dropping into a backbend and back up to standing. I am working now on moving from a backbend to handstand. WHY some of you may ask? Because it feels good and i’m having fun!
I believe that strengthening my center, learning more about body mechanics, but most importantly, understanding the following ideas(principles) was a huge piece in my success in achieving a handstand. I believe some of my biggest lessons were the following:
1 – Prioritize length and space before you connect and engage.
It’s not about having strong arms and shoulders, it’s more about having an open chest, and have enough mobility in the shoulders to connect the arms bones in the socket to stabilize!
2 – Every part/piece counts; whole body awareness.
The more you engage and press down deliberately with all your finger pads and finger knuckles, you’ll have more success in balancing and also creating more length up through the rest of your body.
3 – HUG YOUR MID-LINE.
Isometric energy between hands and triceps. Squeeze your inner thighs up your inner foot like crazy.
4 – Always a 2-way stretch.
Root to rise. From the focal point in your heart, push down through your hands and in opposition to this reach up and lift through your torso, legs and feet!
5 – Breathe
Use inhales to engage muscles and pull energy from peripheral parts(feet and hands) into the focal point of the heart center. Use exhales to reach out and extend more length through your bones from the center of your heart back to peripheral parts. Keep it big and bright. The bigger the breath, the more opportunity to create inner space and therefore length!
6 – Attitude
I think you all can agree when I say, having the right attitude can definitely make all the difference.
Now when someone asks you what is Pilates? I hope you think about HANDSTANDS and all that is required! This to me is Pilates! It’s interesting to me because I find most people forget to think of how their core connects to the rest of their body, as standing well (handstand upside down:)) can strengthen your abdominals! It’s not about isolating muscle groups, it’s rather about integrating the body in one unit. If you have read my reflections I am sure you know what I mean. My goal in teaching Pilates is to help you build your own awareness of your body as a whole and help you put your pieces together. I hope my instruction and classes encourage you to listen and believe in yourself. How can YOU position yourself in the most optimal balanced way to experience ultimate function and integration in and out of our body?
As you see this can be a lot to ask. I do my best to be encouraging, as it does get better and my regulars(grateful for you!) are my proof.:) A committed Pilates practitioner knows there is always so much going on and to be aware of. This takes a lot of patience and practice to get better at recognizing and after a while it is second nature, however don’t get too comfortable as just with life there is always going to be something more to learn, and pay attention to. The hope is that you stay empowered and on top of the “waves of life.” The waves relentlessly pound sometimes and it can be hard to take a breath. Stay with it…you’ll ride it soon.
Here’s to feeling more connected to ourselves in the new year. I hope its’s fulfilling, positive, bright, and beautiful!
PILATES – Wednesday 8:30-9:25
YOGA – Monday 10:45am-11:45am
*classes at Community Fitness – Flow studio
In my opinion the essence of Pilates is working from our center while incorporating a “2-way stretch.” Doesn’t sound so bad does it? However, What does working from our center actually mean and require? Keeping it simple and staying aware of the essence of what we are trying to achieve in our Pilates practice is not an easy task:).
For new students in particular, I know that the challenge of learning the practice of Pilates can be quite overwhelming. The practice requires a lot of body/mind synchronization and awareness as there are many parts to connect. It’s so much more than just exercise. It’s posture redefining and general reprograming that requires significant discipline and a whole lot of strength.
Something that I see often with new students, and time to time in seasoned practitioners, including myself, is that we get too stuck on “doing it right” or focus too much on what isn’t working. This “attitude” can easily distract us from seeing what is working and unfortunately disconnect us from our center to allow us to reap the benefits of the practice.
Fortunately, we can all use the principles of Pilates as tools to pull us back to our center(s) when we get lost. The principles of Pilates are the same for everyone, but, acknowledging that we are all different and not the same, we all have to listen to ourselves and pinpoint our own priorities as our own situations will differ from one another and also slightly within ourselves depending on the day. Hopefully we can adapt, adjust, and have fun!
So what are the principles of Pilates? There are 6 main principles which are the listed below.
Although there are several principles to Pilates I would like to focus on the main and first principle of Pilates – Center! As I stated above, in my opinion, the essence of Pilates basically means to work from our center incorporating a “2-way stretch”. In order to work from our center, we should be able to locate our center. The core of our pelvis is our main center(focal point) for most of our beginner and intermediate Pilates work. Being aware of the muscles that surround this center is the next step. The core of our pelvis is surrounded with our gluteals, abductors, adductors, quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back, and low abdomen. Using the muscles listed above, we need to essentially do 2 things.
1 -stabilize our center in a “balanced, symmetrical way.”
2 – sustaining our balanced stability, incorporate a “2-way stretch.”
The above actions seem simple enough, right!? The difficulty increases as you move from one posture to the next. For many, I see overworked and tight quadriceps and weak hamstrings and gluteals that pulls their pelvic center out of balance. That person may be stable, but unfortunately, in an unbalanced way. In this scenario, if not corrected they would continue to strengthen the muscles that are already too tight and the muscles they really need to turn on never get worked. How frustrating this is! I can say this as I have been there.
Furthermore, as we progress into more advanced postures in the system of Pilates so does our center(focal point)! In fact, as the flow increases and moves become more challenging there may be several centers that you would move back and forth between.
“Centers” that are focal points:
1.core of our pelvis – used in most beginner and intermediate Pilates exercises
2.back of our heart center – used when we are inverted (ex. elephant)
3.upper palate – used when inverted in which your head is part of the foundation(for more advanced work, such as long spine, head stands)
The practice of Pilates is WORK in that it challenges us to always reconnect literally and metaphorically to our center! That being said, I wanted to write this article to encourage ALL of us to to focus MORE on what is working for you, and the things you do that feel right and create more integration and good vibes for your whole body. It should feel good! Keeping this “attitude” as opposed to the other alternative of what’s not working I find allows me and my body to be more receptive and open and as consequence I experience more inner space and freedom to make the connections to work from a balanced center.
Some days are definitely more challenging than others and our body will be proof of this, but having an open, positive, attitude and continuing to be curious to learn more despite our problems will help us. Pay attention, listen, and try not to be “done” before you begin! That’s why I called my studio Le Bureau…Its’ meaning is the office (in french), and therefore, I hope you will come to work curious and ready to to grow more into your own center every single day; as that, in my opinion, is the true essence of Pilates.
I am very fortunate to have just returned home from “summer camp” myself! I was in Encinitas. practicing yoga for 5 days with my favorite Yoga teacher, Desiree Rumbaugh, her husband Andrew Rivin, and the amazing kula she attracts. She calls the retreat; “Raising your Vibration!” It did just that.
Every day we self-reflected on what practices bring our “vibration” down and what practices we could be more aware of that may raise our current vibrational state. We shared our reflections with the group of 66 other yogi participants ranging in age from early 30’s to 80 years of age. It was fantastic! I loved the different perspectives that the diversity of the group brought to our conversations. That said, regardless of our age difference and the various experiences we all had, we all shared in the same spiritual/philosophical outlook on life; and we could all understand and listen to each other.
In today’s post I would like to share with you what brings me down and what I do to raise my vibrational or “energy” state back up so I do not pull anyone else down with me. I will then tie this idea into how being aware of our emotional state can enhance our Pilates practice and any other endeavors we choose. I truly believe that we get good at what we practice, and being aware of the how we practice is just as important if not more important than what we practice.
I can’t count, nor would I want to count, how many times I have heard, “let it go” in my life. Each situation is different and the dynamic of who is involved at a particular moment always plays a role in my personal ability to simply “let it go”… As you may be able to imagine, I can be stubborn and have my ideals. Letting go of “being right” is hard for me! I believe we all, including myself, should soften more and acknowledge the “other side” in an effort to make better connections and communicate with more fluidity. It’s sometimes hard to see it, but I do believe we always have a choice to either insist on our opinion or accept another point of view.
I have a hard time “letting it go” when I know deep down the statement is true and it involves people I care for the most. I typically get so upset that my body also reflects my emotional state. I find myself holding my breath, or my breath is shallow and short. I also hold tension and my muscles will harden around areas in my body were I have experienced injuries in the past. My husband calls this muscle memory.
This difficulty to soften and feel my body connect into what I am doing (such as in the reformer, my mat, etc) affects the outcome and what I get in return from my practice. It’s not simply going through the motions that makes a practice effective its truly being able to feel and participate with full awareness that makes the practice beneficial.
I know deep down how absurd It is when I get so upset, as I know, this state will do nothing for me and the others involved, as it will just bring them and myself down… lowering the vibrational state. Who wants to be down?
In an effort to help myself and others(regardless if I understand them or not) I know that I must engage in things that bring me joy. When I am loving what I do, I react less
because I am relaxed and I am less likely to feel the need to “be right.” Therefore, I know I must find and continue to do the things that fill me up with joy! This is of corse different for everyone. In a movie I just watched, “Ride”, featuring Helen Hunt, there is a part of the movie when Helen asked a friend what he wished his mother would have done when she was going through a tough time. Her friend said, “ I wished she loved life anyway”.
We all go through tough experiences and may even struggle with pain in some form on a daily basis. Should we let those experiences and pain always get the best of us? Always playing victim to our pain and struggle, because we have to be “right?” Ultimately, the choice is up to us! What can we do? There are different answers for all of us as we must inquire within.
I hope you stay grounded in activities that give you joy. In my opinion this will not only help you react less in stressful times but also enhance your ability to connect to your body in your Pilates practice and any other practice worth your effort, not to mention raise yours and others vibrational state!
THE SPY – PAULO COELHO
So, I was running late to my tennis practice after having a full morning of teaching. As I arrived, I realized I was pretty tired only having had my morning bullet coffee at 5am and a green juice to sustain my energy and here it was already Noon. I thought oh well! I can get by for the next hour. Being 10 minutes late, I missed our typical warm up of drills and easy rallies. Not thinking too much about it I started swinging hard and giving my usual 100%. Not 10 minutes into my practice I realized I had probably pulled/strained a muscle in my neck. I am thinking to myself, “Brooke what are you doing! Why didn’t you warm up, you know better!” However, hoping my pain would just magically disappear, I continued on with my practice stretching whenever I had a chance in between shots.
With my background rooted strongly in the practice of Pilates and Yoga, in addition to having an amazing physiatrist D.O. as a husband, I do feel very fortunate as I can usually pull myself up and out of discomfort quicker than I would say most people I know. Usually, as soon as I feel better, I tend to overdo, and history repeats itself; however, these days, I am truly trying to pay attention, give myself more time, and not allow my “stories” to repeat themselves!
Today, I want to share with you some of my tricks for feeling better when I am experiencing pain. I would also recommend coming to see my husband or another sports medicine doctor you trust and who also practices what they preach:).
Now I would like to put a little more emphasis and detail on points 2 and 3, and how you can incorporate these ideas into your Pilates practice.
With regards to my point referring to encouraging a “TALL BACK”, please consider the following ideas…
Make sure your spine is in agreement. In other words, do not confuse your spine/posture, by having one part of your spine round (or tucked under) while the other end is trying to extend and lengthen in opposition. Therefore, as a general rule or principle, the spine should either be round or tall, not round and tall at the same time! Yes, you can encourage length in a round back, but the spine should flow uniformly from the bottom to the top and vice versa. That said in a round back, the whole spine should make the shape of a capital C and in a tall back the tail bone should be free (not tucked under) and the crown extending up with extension making more a vertical line, or soft S-curve, top to bottom.
In a tall back, one should not constrict and block the base of their spine by drawing their tail bone under (tucking). This action practiced in a tall back, will compress and tighten the base of the spine more than protect and strengthen that area, causing confusion and lack of flow and freedom in other parts of the spine. Adding on to this, as you keep your tail bone free, it is also very important to integrate and feel the inner thighs pull up and into your center as if your tall back started down at your inner upper knee. This requires a lot of hugging to your midline!
My point I am trying to make is to be aware and sense your spinal position. Know whether the exercise requires a round or tall back as this will determine the action of your tailbone! Lastly, remember that the dynamic of tucking in a tall back will confuse the spine. The spine, should flow uniformly and there should not be any kinks and or breaks stopping the flow, as this works against the natural curve.
For my critics who may believe, tucking would support the back, especially when moving into extension (think swan/cobra/updog); I would say, is it necessary to tuck in an effort to support your low back if you are integrated and pulling to your midline through your lower body (feet shins, inner an outer thighs, buttocks), as you should be? Maybe you will find you do not really need to tuck if you instead pay more attention to how you integrate your lower body in your 2-way stretch?
Lets say you are in a lunge (think going up in electric chair)…do you feel you need to tuck if you are doing the following actions?:
1. ground and simultaneously pull up and out of the arches in your feet (I like to say short feet)
2. pull ankles and shins to your midline, as you draw your thigh bones back and apart to wake up inner thighs and create space in the low back and hips. This action will definitely take any tucking out if you are doing this action properly.
3. PUSH the floor away, without tucking and maintaining the above actions! Lastly, pull and tone your low belly in and up off your upper thighs. This will support your low back and also encourage communication between your lower and upper spine to continue to build more and more space. Feel the space and length run from your pelvic floor all the way up to the roof of your mouth sustaining your powerful reach down in opposition through your lower body.
I hope you Love yourself enough to pay attention to what you are feeling. Listen to what your body is telling you. I hope you will find more and more freedom and less pain in your body. Don’t forget to warm up too!:)
Enjoy my newest video showing all TALL back exercises on the electric chair!
My husband says that I am the master of the “feist.” True, I am opinionated, and can put up a good fight. I must point out, that I try to be respectful and not give my ‘2 cents’ when it is not asked for and will knowingly not be received. I have been reflecting on my fighting spirit. Although I am fortunate for this quality, I also contemplate how much fight is needed? My sign is the Pisces after all, and this zodiac sign shows 2 fish swimming in opposite directions! However, as long as my 2 fish are swimming at the same speed it should keep me in balance, right?
Resistance is very important for sustaining balance in life. If there is no resistance, there is lack of challenge, play, growth, and in my opinion, freedom. In this following reflection, I reflect on how much resistance is needed in our bodies, in particular, to connect between the arms and low back when the arms are stretched over head.
Why am I choosing to reflect on this…
1 -Personally, I have had much trial and error with finding this connection and I will share what I have discovered and give you some food for thought to help you find your best connection.
2 – I feel that the cue “pull your shoulders down the back” is not only over used it’s misunderstood and used at inappropriate times.
*Please note – The shoulders require a variety of different cues to connect it optimally depending on the plane the arm is in in relation to the spine.
3 – I feel too many people are causing more harm to their bodies trying to keep their shoulders pulled down. There is a difference between someones shoulders being chronically lifted and strained due to stress compared to someone shrugging their relaxed shoulders to their ears to encourage side body length and to decompress their spine.
The following is some background on my personal journey:
I broke my back when I was 7. In my recovery, I was told not to participate in gymnastics or dance etc. and just to swim. I continued to swim well into my college years. As I look back, although I will forever be grateful for my swimming and the ability to stretch my body and the feeling it gives me, I also feel, I was chronically using my shoulders and not enough of my center.
Shortly after college, when I started getting more into fitness (weight lifting, fitness classes, kick box…you name it I did it). I learned quickly that my lack of core strength in combination with my hyper mobile shoulders did not go well together. At that time, I was suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome and having pain and numbness in my arms and hands that would often wake me up in the middle of the night. From this experience, I realized that the shoulder joint is complex, and it was essential that I needed to educate myself , especially, if I wanted to continue to do what I loved most…to move!
Having the desire to understand and feel better, I was fortunate to have gotten into Anusara Yoga, an alignment based yoga linked with heart themes. I first learned how to align the shoulder joint optimally through my first Anusara Yoga training back in 2004.
Below are some general points I learned that, I think, are worth considering when your arms are stretched up over head.
NO DOUBT, reading the following is one thing, seeing and feeling another, AND I myself am a visual learner. Therefore, I am happy to demonstrate my thoughts and words in person.
*Also, please note – The following does not apply if you have lack of shoulder mobility and it either hurts to bring your arms over head and/or you cannot retract your arm bones(gently yet firmly) back in the shoulder socket and feel your shoulder blades on your back. If this is the case you need to work instead with mobility exercises such as sternum drops and arm circles with your back supine on a foam roller. Need some more ideas?
1. Lifting and Shrug shoulders up to your ears in effort to lengthen your side body.
2. Keep the length of your sides and engage your arm bones back in the socket, this may require you to have your arms more forward of your shoulders.
3. Keep pulling to the mid line. In other words, when the arms are stretched overhead(Palms facing one another shoulder distance apart), keep some isometric energy between the hands and forearms to help keep width and space in the chest and upper back.
4. “KIDNEY LOOP” The below is Doug Keller’s (amazing teacher) definition –
The “kidney loop” starts at the base of the abdomen, just below the navel, and lifts up and draws back from just below the kidneys, taking the lower ribs back while creating length in the side body. With this action, the kidney loop makes room for the expansion of the diaphragm in the back of the body. It moves upward to the bottom tips of the shoulder blades and forward through the heart or center of your chest. From there it draws downward through the Xiphoid processs (bottom tip of sternum) and solar plexus as it returns back to the point right above the navel. the breath to transform the inner landscape of the body.
5. Keep all the above actions and stretch. Use inhalation to create space and length and the exhalation to engage kidney loop and mid-line. Give equal attention to both the inhale and exhale and their actions.
Keeping all the actions mentioned above in balance is the “practice.”
Back to my personal journey…
For many years, I believe, in my efforts to build strength, and find better connection from my low back to my hands when stretched overhead, I forgot to first find length (the one thing I really knew how to do well). I therefore, lost my balance and as a result, I was putting too much pressure and stress on my trapezius and levator scapula muscles when my arms were positioned over head.
Therefore, is the cue, “pull your shoulders down the back” always appropriate? I argue, absolutely not, especially when you have mobility in your shoulder joint, and your arms are over your head. Pulling your shoulders down in effort to find connection, may, instead, cause more tightness and less space in ones shoulders and back, leading to a dysfunctional and not sustainable connection over time. In general, this is not a great cue.
Now movement in Pilates is a little more upbeat than an Anusara Yoga class, however the same alignment principles apply.
How much resistance do you actually need? You are the ultimate decision maker! Hopefully you are present enough to listen to what your body is telling you, and humble enough to adapt to how much resistance you require. I hope you don’t allow your needed RESISTANCE to pull you down. Never compromise your posture, and when in doubt, prioritize your length! Continue to breath and use your inhales to find more inner space and your exhales to find more center as you work towards your ultimate goal of finding more connection in your life relationships, and of corse, your hands to low back.
I recently invested in a beautiful painting for Le Bureau! I am expecting its’ arrival any day now and I am excited to display it. The name of the painting is “OUR WAVE.” I was attracted to the painting as soon as I made eye contact with it. This doesn’t happen to me often as the only other time I remember having a similar attraction is when I saw Pontus for the first time… it was love at first sight! 🙂
AS you may imagine, the painting is a wave; a large, abstract, beautiful and bright portrait of a wave!
Here is why I like it so much…
I love the idea of how “Our Wave” can be easily used for an analogy for “our life.” Its a beautiful reminder that our experience and sometimes circumstances within a situation can change! A wave is alive, steadily and rhythmically flowing in and out to sea, and unpredictable in its’ nature, as it can be rough and over powering at times. Just how our life is dynamic, sometimes more stressful and demanding. Unlike the ever flowing waves, we have to choose to ride and participate in our own life and hopefully we learn to adapt to our new circumstances and cope with the ups and the downs our journey brings. Right after Pontus and I married in 2003, my Dad gave us a plaque with the saying, “a smile can calm any storm life brings.” Although this is very true, I also believe that self-awareness and knowledge of the bigger picture of what is happening can help us adapt to our current reality. Having more knowledge will help free us of “our storm” that we may be experiencing. We have to pay attention as we ride our waves of life!
It’s encouraging just to know that our waves crash and then get drawn back into the ocean and begin again. There is continual flow and movement just how there are many opportunities for us to find more freedom if we choose to be awake, alive, and learn from our past experiences. There is beauty in the oneness of our wave and therefore, our life’s experiences. I try to remember this analogy myself when I am feeling down and experiencing difficult times.
What’s even more beautiful is that we all share in life’s experiences! It’s encouraging to know that we are not alone, rather, we are connected and reflections of one another. We all catch our waves differently, and as a result, experience different outcomes and consequences depending on the dynamic of our wave. “Our rides” will never quite be the same, and we will have opportunities to experience our waves differently.
I know the more I choose to ride my waves with a humble self awareness I will be able to feel more of what the wave is giving me in return. I hope I can encourage everyone I know to fully participate in their own ride and truly have a sense of play! The more we play the more we feel, and hopefully as a consequence, we learn our lessons to help us adapt to new changes and see our wave to our advantage instead of more and more obstacles in our way.
The nature of a wave is wild, alive and free, unattached and ever moving. You may be wondering, why is Brooke talking about waves when Pilates is more about control and setting boundaries? I see your point! I am asking you to find a sense of play in our center and allow yourself to let it go to feel more connection through your whole body. In return you may feel how you automatically become more stable and centered! I encourage you to think yourself as a wave, by adapting to your own circumstances in that moment and just how a wave can flow around their obstacles, so can you! Allow yourself to FEEL, to breathe bigger, lengthen your side body longer, soften into the fullness of your back body stronger, shine and radiate brighter through your limbs, and lastly, sustain a pulsation of drawing in and out from your center line, just how the wave draws to the center of its tube before it crashes and gets drawn back out to begin again. Feeling the result of applying these simple actions will create more space within. This inner freedom will help you maneuver through any obstacles in your own body and hopefully allow you to tap into a deeper connection and strength at your center.
Just how a wave can crash strongly, I hope that you also give your all and dive deeper within your own body and overall experience. Life does happen and will present us with some rough rides, however, if we, like the wave, continue to get up and adapt to our circumstances, I believe, there will be grace in the unrelenting movement. With steady practice and self awareness, we will have opportunities to swim up and out and connect with ourselves and make our overall experience better.
Do you fully participate in your own journey?
The ARTISTS BEHIND OUR WAVE:
Known as The Twins, Alessio and Marcello Bugagiar moved to Maui from their homeland, Florence, Italy, to windsurf and pursue their careers as artists. They are like the two sides of a coin. Marcello, the visionary, and Alessio, the technician. Together they complete passionate works of art of extreme beauty and originality. The juxtaposition of of the classic and the contemporary, the European and the Hawaiian. “We complete each other, we feel we become one energy that expresses a single idea.”
Meaning of ALOHA –
The real meaning of Aloha in Hawaiian is that of Love, Peace, and Compassion. It’s the guidelines of how to live – a life of Aloha is one when the heart is so full it is overflowing with the ability to influence others around you with your spirit.
Just returning from vacation on the BIG Island of Hawaii, I feel inspired to share the following story with you…
Better known as Peaman, Sean, is an acquaintance I have known all my life and see every year in Kona. He has been putting on free running and multi-sport events in Kona for the last 20-years and generally contributing to the aloha feel that the Big Island is famous for.
Sean was in an accident at the age of 9 and he still suffers severe pain on a daily basis. One (not ALL) of his obstacles have been that his pituitary gland does not function and he does not produce any hormones. As a result he has zero motility in his gut which makes it extremely difficult for him to absorb nutrition and gain any weight. Usually it hurts me to look at him because he is so skinny! However, something was different about Sean this year. I was expecting to see his frail physic, bald head, and chicken legs. Instead, I saw him with a full head hair, and possessing some muscle mass. He actually had meat on his bones! What happened I wondered?
The accident happened when I was 9 years old when we were back visiting Manhattan Beach, California. A drunk driver hit us going almost 70 mph, killing my mother instantly. It put me in the hospital for an extended amount of time and caused major damage to my pituitary gland, which helps maintain your body’s muscle mass.
During the accident I had the experience of going toward the loving light of God and then going back into my body. I would say that moment has formed my life in a very positive way.
When I was in high school, no one knew how bad the pituitary damage was. When everyone else was growing facial hair and wanting to have girlfriends, I wanted to play in the mud. I was not interested in standing in the hallway with fancy clothes. I wanted to throw the ball around like we did in elementary school.
In high school, I was running track and playing Pop Warner football and doing all the things normal kids did, but just having a lot of pain and unusual health situations. Suddenly, my femur breaks and they tell me I have the bone density of a 70-year-old man and that I have osteoporosis.
If you look now, as far as my heath and the pain I’m in, I still say it is a blessing. I would not be doing what I’m doing if it was not for that.
When I saw Sean, I automatically said, Wow! You look great. What happened? What did you do?
He was so kind and humble and told me his story. He said, a lot happened! Mainly he stated that he choose to live. He hit rock bottom, sleeping 36 hours at a time and only weighing in at 80 lbs. At that low point he knew he wanted to live and therefore had to make some changes…body, mind and spirit.
Last year before the Hapuna Rough Water Swim was a big rough patch. I was hovering around 80 pounds and sometimes sleeping up to 36 hours at a time. To do Hapuna — I cannot even explain it. On paper, it was nearly impossible.
When you go into something and tell yourself you can’t do it, you’re not going to do it. In the years I was able to do Ironman, I did not train as much as I should have, but never told myself I couldn’t do it. When I did train, I wouldn’t wear a watch or heart monitor because I didn’t want something to telling me what my limits were. I just go by how I feel, regardless of time or numbers.
I think the way I make it through the rough patches is with consistency and not giving up. I do what I can do, but make the effort to get up and do it. Movement is what keeps me alive.
In addition to not giving up, being present, and believing in himself, Sean told me he simply does what he needs to do to keep his body absorbing the nutrients he needs the best he can. This means daily injections of B12, hormones, daily Noni juice(if you do not know what this is, look it up! It is magic), and lots and lots of protein shakes as he regurgitates most of what he eats. He also continues to exercise daily, I see him almost every morning at the Kailua-Kona pier swimming out to the 1.2 mile buoy. Most impressively, he is kind, compassionate, caring, and has an expansive heart. He is not ashamed to share his story, his struggles, and also work hard to fell better. He does not let his pain and all his daily upkeep prevent him from keeping a positive outlook on life. I love it! He is no victim to his pain and knows that life is to be lived and also shared. He is definitely an inspiration to me and how I want to live my life.
What do you hope people take away from a Peaman event?
SEAN- I would say the beauty of Kona and the giving nature of the people here.
I always hope people experience aloha in its purest form, which is when people come together and celebrate the day. I really get perturbed when people talk bad about Hawaii and say the aloha is gone. There is always aloha, you just have to find it.
Our slogan is, “Live, Laugh and be a Pea.” All these people who are so called “adults” love a kids party better. People are big kids and just want to have fun. That’s my belief.
I hope you can all find and see the Aloha in yourself and share your incredible ALOHA with the ones around you.
If you travel to Kona and want to participate in one of Sean’s events, please click here!
I have been teaching Pilates since 2005, originally certified through a Power Pilates comprehensive training, based in New York. Since that time I have continued to deepen my study having being exposed to many different approaches and styles of the Pilates method, and also became certified with a more rehabilitative contemporary approach to Pilates with Balanced Body back in 2010. Having experienced the 2 very different approaches in addition to my own study of many other varying styles, one would think that I felt grounded in the method of Pilates, however, at times, I felt overly stimulated with too much information.
Participating in The Work, has encouraged me to take a step back, relax, and literally SEE more; see more of myself, see more of the method as a whole, and also see the person in front of me.
Let me explain. Have you ever been instructed to do something that conflicts with another person/teacher/doctor etc…? I do not know about you, but I have!:) My point is, everyone will SEE differently and possibly different things in you, and as a result, different things will be emphasized depending on who your teacher is that day. This could frustrate and confuse you if you are not aware of the “bigger picture”. Not seeing the “bigger picture” narrows your perspective and you could become “stuck” not knowing what to do, and which way to turn, as every teacher is telling you something different. OR, perhaps you will instead welcome that other perspective and approach as you know that it is just another set of eyes showing you what they see that day. Approaching things differently in my opinion is not a bad thing. However, it is necessary that the practitioner understand the bigger picture and continues to root themselves in the essence of each exercise. Too much information, with various styles and approaches, could over stimulate the practitioner and even the teacher. The more you hear the less you see!
For me, being in The Work has allowed me to re-connect to the heart of pilates and given me the tools needed to filter the feedback and instruction I have given that day, thus helping me me connect. I credit my time in The Work for building my trust and self confidence in myself to consistently SEE the bigger picture and the method as one.
Personally, the opportunity to learn and witness Jay teaching the way Joseph Pilates would have taught the exercises himself has been so wonderful because it is so straightforward and direct! There is nothing complex, no additional props, no extra modifications. YOU have an opportunity to think less, move more, SEE more, feel more, and connect fully to what you are doing.
It was a sweaty old gym, Jay said often. You did not make an appointment, you just showed up and did the work you knew how. When Joe or one of his helpers saw that you were ready to add another exercise they would, but not until you showed you were ready! The gym was not a social either, people were working out! You were taught an exercise or exercises and were supposed to remember! You would not be talked through the exercise once they were taught…. You would maybe get a poke or a push/pull sometimes but that was it! There was also no props(pillows, foam rollers etc,,). In fact, If there is one thing that Jay dis-approves of it is the use of PROPS. He says, props take away the WORK. Its not supposed to be comfortable! You need to learn and grow and comfort is not going to help you! Also if you came into the studio to work out and there was no equipment ready, Clara, Joe’s wife would point out a small wall space you could start your practice.:)
Having gone through this simple, yet very challenging program, my understanding of how the entire system works together is so much richer and deeper than it’s ever been. We were encouraged to watch and “SEE” and worry less about what we knew. The use of simple themes in the exercises was one thing that helped me connect and see the bigger picture. Some examples of themes were…seat connection, back connection, low body reach, 2 way stretch, spinal shapes. Using the ‘themes’, I could find the exercise for myself more and negotiate what feedback that was given worked for me without feeling as if I did not get it because the teacher did not approve! I had to do the work and dig deeper into myself and my own awareness to find the answers I was searching for ….I definitely understand why they named the program The Work!
The Work, cannot be compared to any other Pilates graduate program available. It is for teachers who are interested re-connecting to the heart of Pilates and who yearn to be grounded in the original work. The intense study with regular lessons, assessments, and workshops gave me just enough structure and focus to do this and more. I reconnected more to the method and I also reconnected to myself literally and figuratively. I learned less is more and also that it’s important to observe and be quiet so you can see the body and have it tell you what it needs.
Moving forward, I will practice keeping my eyes open and mouth shut (as Jay would say) and allow myself to SEE more. In my teaching, I will contemplate what your body is telling me, staying rooted to the original teachings, and I will do my best to help you experience better connections in your body. Just like in Joe’s sweaty studio…I hope to inspire you all to keep moving! Be mindful of what you do, listen and observe what your body is telling you, and I will continue to help you grow in the method and give you a little poke, push and pull when you need it! I hope I can carry the torch of Joseph Pilates on to all of you and keep his amazing authentic method alive…it’s so much more than just exercise!
I will leave you with the lyrics to this U2 song –
“CITY OF BLINDING LIGHTS”
The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now
Neon heart, day-glo eyes
The city lit by fireflies
They’re advertising in the skies
For people like us
And I miss you when you’re not around
I’m getting ready to leave the ground
Oh, you look so beautiful tonight
In the city of blinding lights
Don’t look before you laugh
Look ugly in a photograph
Flash bulbs, purple irises the camera can’t see
I’ve seen you walk unafraid
I’ve seen you in the clothes you’ve made
Can you see the beauty inside of me?
What happened to the beauty I had inside of me?
And I miss you when you’re not around
I’m getting ready to leave the ground
Oh, you look so beautiful tonight
In the city of blinding lights
Time, time, time
Time won’t leave me as I am
But time won’t take the boy out of this man
Oh, you look so beautiful tonight
Oh, you look so beautiful tonight
Oh, you look so beautiful tonight
Yeah, the city of blinding lights
The more you know, the less you feel
Some pray for what others steal
Blessing’s not just for the ones who kneel, luckily