Pieces

Pieces

Trusting myself enough to let go, in an effort to better connect and grow.

 

I returned from LA a few weeks ago.  What a fantastic time with The Vintage Pilates staff, and other “Work” participants.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this beautiful like-minded yet diverse community. My understanding of how I can use the method of Pilates to better myself in “The Work” is coming together and I know this is just the beginning.  In this post I will be reflecting on the idea of connection; how can we better connect all our pieces to what or whomever we are interacting with, to better understand ourselves?

Jay Grimes, Pilates elder, along with the amazing Vintage Pilates Teachers for “The Work”, will usually never end a session without first saying; “do not neglect your ‘partner’” (meaning the apparatus; whether that be the reformer, the chair, barrels, cadillac, guillotine, ped-a-pul, etc).  Jay would then typically follow this statement by saying “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and JUST MOVE.”

Although not a Jay Grimes nor a Vintage Pilates saying, this next quote(also a favorite of mine from the movie “EAT, PRAY, LOVE”) complements what I believe Jay and my teachers for “The Work” are saying…

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person that you will ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. Soul mates, they come into your life to reveal another layer of yourself to you.”

I think Jay and my other teachers of “the Work” would agree that their idea of a ‘partner’ is our ‘soulmate.’  We should then treat the apparatus we are using with that awareness and allow it to teach us something about ourselves.   The more connections  we make with our ‘partner’ the more lessons we should receive.  Hopefully, we come away from our workout or our interaction having learned something about who we are.  Perhaps also discovering something we need to work on.  Can’t have one without the other.

I believe finding more connection is different for everyone.   Perhaps for some of you, the struggle lies in concentrating on connecting to your “partner”; for others it is trusting what your partner is revealing to you and giving in to this trust as you continue…   Personally, after this past trip to LA, I am discovering that when I trust more in my “partner” and act more instinctual I am able to make stronger connections and learn more.  Listening and trusting what I feel is right and acting accordingly is definitely hard work, but I believe a challenge worth fighting for.  Be persistent and listen to yourself!

How about you?   How do you stay connected to your “partner?”  Do you need to trust more in yourself to connect all your pieces like me?  Maybe you just need more of a steady effort?  Some need more of one than the other.   We all need to find our own ratio.

I hope you all can trust your “partner” and continue to strengthen and make new connections that bring meaning to you.  Every day is a new day and another opportunity to expand your awareness and your connections and put the little pieces together one by one.  If you feel disconnected and loose your pieces trust your partner more!  Can you trust and listen to what your connections are telling you and act accordingly?  Takes a lot of courage to follow through!   You can do it!  I believe in you:).

Do it right, keep it tight!

Brooke

ps – check out the song “Pieces” by Andrew Belle

 

Life in Control?

How was my last experience with THE WORK in LA?

Besides being a nice excuse to get away from my daily routine, soak up some needed warm sunshine, and reconnect with some wonderful inspiring people, this time I was not so thrilled to be doing “The Work…” I left Seattle in pain and knew I could not cancel my trip, and still stay in the program due to my pain. It would also not be sufficient to just go and observe. I know that they expect to see us participating, moving, and working! If I did not go and experience first hand the work in my body I would have to drop out of the program. I have worked hard to get in and stay in the program thus far, and their philosophy, which I also believe in, is that you have to experience something if you want to teach it.

What was my pain?

I had intense pain in my left neck, trapezius, and shoulder. At the time I did not know that my pain was due to a big herniation between C6 and C7. Just found out this past week (1 full week after completing my week in LA).

How was my experience?

One word can sum up my last trip to LA for “The Work,” “OOOUCH!”

How did I get my herniation?

What can I say? It’s always a dynamic! As we all know, life is just that, one messy but beautiful dynamic. Whether we like it or not it usually makes sense, if not right away then it will down the road of life. Personally, after contemplating how I got so badly injured, I would have to say that its my own damn fault. For starters, my injury has been accumulating all my life and I have done my fair share of slouching! Also, having broken my back when I was 7 at L1/T12 (another story) does not help either. I have always felt an unrelenting stickiness in my low back that I constantly try to pull out of. Maybe that’s why my love for yoga grew at such a young age? Unfortunately, my stretching efforts to get out of my low back usually only manifest up at my neck. My husband can confirm this as he hears me crack my neck every night before I get in bed after my nightly yoga stretch routine. He always warns me often that I should not crack my neck so much and that “cracking” was not a ‘good’ thing but it felt good to me and I never thought I would be where I am now.

More recently, around the beginning of February I also fell on my head. It was a nice fall, but none the less, it did have some impact and I felt the consequence in my low back and my neck the following day. If any of you Pilates Enthusiasts are familiar with an exercise called the ‘squirrel’, I was doing a variation of just that on the Cadillac with my feet in the fuzzies, except I was in a backbend and to what I recall a bit twisted. I cannot even remember how I got in that position to be honest. I was in my bi-weekly pilates session and at this particular moment I was just playing and having fun. My Pilates sessions, to be honest, are usually my “recess”:). Simple fun!

Almost 2 months after my fall, and I was still feeling a nagging tightness in my neck and upper left back. Part II of The Work was soon approaching and I was a little nervous because I knew my body was not feeling the best. I was convinced that it was just a rib or part of my upper thoracic that needed to be adjusted back into alignment. My husband, Pontus, as most of you know is a Doctor of Osteopathy and can help me time to time if i’m nice of course! I was nice(he’s usually nicer), so he did try to help me on several occasions. He was not able to manipulate what I was sure I needed to be manipulated and was blown away with how tight my left trapezius muscle and levator scapula had gotten. He advised me not to mess with it any more and just do gentle stretches and ice as he thought I had a nerve pinched.

I however, being stubborn and wanting “a fix” decided to go to a chiropractor I had seen before for iliocecal valve difficulties when I was having trouble with digestive issues. I was able to make 2 appts back to back right before I were to leave for California for The Work. I was so happy that I was able to get in and I thought I would finally be able to get some relief before the MAT portion of The Work(the most challenging module as you do not have any support from the apparatus). I had worked hard on my homework and felt prepared but I also wanted to feel better in my neck and shoulder before going into the big demanding week ahead.

My first chiropractic appt went well. The chiropractor was able to adjust my low back and also my upper thoracic. I felt some relief, but still had the nagging pain in my upper neck and left shoulder. I went back the following day and before I left Pontus said to me, “do not let him touch your neck!” However, when I arrived at the chiropractor, I said I was still feeling tight and stuck in the same places. He listened and told me that he thought he could help as he just returned from a course that was all on the neck and upper traps so I said, “ok, see what you can do.” Well, I know now that saying that was a BIG mistake! Right away I felt and heard a huge ‘POP.’ I did not know what to think…so what did i do? I continued with my day in auto pilot and even went to a yoga class and did Headstand(how stupid am I?). I should have iced! That night I was in so much pain I barely slept as my left trapezius and neck were hurting more than ever.

I left to teach that morning before I left that afternoon and was in pain the whole time and realized I even had a hard time bending over and tying my shoe laces! I called Pontus at work and asked him, “what should I do?” He said, “Brooke you will be okay, just take some pain meds, turmeric, anything to reduce inflammation and ice.” I am thinking, okay, I will be okay, just take it easy.

IN LA…

The following day, my demanding schedule was looking straight at me! On average I had 3 Pilates sessions/lessons a day. On Saturday and Sunday it was an all day MAT workshop with Jay Grimes. We must have performed the Mat sequence at least 5 times each day. It was actually okay when I was warmed up and moving and continuing to reach and create my own traction and length, but very painful to just lie down and put pressure on my back or the transition from lying to seated to standing etc. IN between moving I iced and lathered on arnica gold cream and red tiger balm like never before! Everyone knew I was not feeling the best and asked me if there was anything they could do, I thanked everyone for their concern. There were several others who were also going through some their own issues they were working out as well. One individual had a torn rotator cuff and there were also some other interesting cases! We were all in it together and I think just knowing I was not alone helped me in addition to just continuing to breathe, believe, ice, and take epson salt baths in between my sessions as I counted the days till I could go back home!

So what got me through probably the most painful week of my life(beside child birth of course)!

I know I was in pain and I needed to come up with a plan to hep myself get through the intensive week and Mat workshop with Jay Grimes. Besides reminding myself to “take one day at a time” and also calling my husband and hearing him reassure me “that everything will be okay”…I knew it was important for me to start my day off right. Some of you that I teach may here me say, do not rush, take your time, and most importantly set yourself up for success! I used this for myself and this helped me in my misery! Here’s a look at my morning routine and how I set my day up for success.
-literally rolled out of bed at 6am. Sat and on my bed and breathed deeply to create and find space in my back and neck.
-Drank my morning ritual of warm lemon water and and also some l-glutamine as I caught up on the morning news briefs and iced my neck.
-I followed with my bullet coffee(I brought my inversion blender with me) and my berries and a coconut chocolate drink with bone broth to kick start my day with sustained delicious energy. UMMMM, so good.
-I would then normally do a 15 minute full body yoga routine to help wake me up and uplift my body from the nights sleep. Unfortunately, the routine was too painful and instead I did some light stretches targeting my upper back, chest, and neck all while I held and gently lifted my head to create traction for my compressed hurting neck. I usually stood up against the wall in my room just breathing and lengthening my back in and up against the wall. This would help me align myself so I could work on melting my front body into my back and the wall to give me support all the while lifting my spine and creating more length in my neck out of my shoulders.
-9am – walked 1 mile to the studio listening to some Hawaiian happy reggae to continue my beautiful day.

Some of my mantras that were particular useful to me were…
take care of me
start with a good position
be present and observe
less is more
work smart
control and contain self
release
let go

We cannot always control the ‘life’ that is presented to us whether that be a particular situation, disagreement, argument with family or friends, problem at work, or personal challenge possibly with the state our body is in. Regardless, if there is a reason, deep down we know that there always is (whether we like it or not)….we do have a choice to control our mind and our actions to help better our situation. This in a nutshell is Pilates….the art of Contrology. THE ART OF CONTROL. I hope, that I can continue to fine tune my Pilates in and out of the studio to better serve my life and as a consequence the lives that surrounds me. I am so grateful.

LOVE,
Brooke

stay tuned on what comes next…:)

RETREAT UPDATE

Dear Friends,

I have an update regarding the Roots Down Revival Retreat for 2017. Those of you who have signed up already know that I needed to cancel the retreat this past week due to some very exciting news…unfortunately, it was obviously not the best timing.

The reason I had to cancel the retreat is that I am one of the few who have been accepted into Jay Grimes’ Master Pilates Program, “The Work” out of Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles for the class of 2017. Being accepted into “the Work” is an opportunity of a lifetime that I couldn’t give up. I hope you all understand and appreciate my decision. “The Work” consists of several modules that are 7 consecutive days, all in LA. The first module is from January 11-18th which would have coincided with the retreat (January 9-13). It was very hard for me to disappoint those of you who were planning on coming and participating, especially after pouring my heart into this retreat. As I plan on the retreat being an annual occurrence I hope to share this special and beautiful place and retreat experience with all of you in January 2018.

It takes a lot of WORK!

It takes a lot of work…

to recognize that…

“We’re not perfect, and it takes a long time to get there!”

I hope you can laugh and love this phrase as much as I do.

Jay Grimes, first generation master instructor(learned the method of Pilates from Joseph Pilates himself) said this to over 50 classical pilates instructors this weekend at Vintage Pilates in LA. What a great weekend! As some of you may already know, I am hoping to be accepted into Jay’s Pilates Master Program, called, “The Work.” I performed my assessment on the reformer this weekend and overall, I believe, I had a strong performance. I will find out in November wether or not I am one of the few chosen to participate in his program. The program is an intense 1-2 year graduate program for certified teachers who desire to go beyond Pilates workshops and truly understand how all the Pilates exercises and the apparatus work together efficiently and effectively.

Back to, “we’re not perfect, and it takes a long time to get there!” I love this saying as it reminds me that making any shift/change in my attitude, in my body, in my actions takes time. It takes a lot of “WORK” also. WE need to choose and become consciously aware of our actions and recognize what we can do to ease the discomfort. Being disciplined and steadfast in your actions will hopefully affect your realistic goals:) you set for yourself. Doing all of this we will still have more, and more, and more to work on. Enjoy your journey, learn from it, love yourself, and repeat!

Ciao,

Brooke