Happy new year to you all. I have a new Pilates video to share with you on my vimeo account. The practice begins with 10 minutes of simple yoga salutations to ‘wake up’ the body before diving into a 30 minute Pilates mat workout. The practice is a perfect practice for the morning, especially when you are not at home and have the luxury of space. You can expect to stay on your mat from start to finish…no side lying leg kicks here.
The one instruction I give, sprinkled throughout the workout, is “Breathe into your back body.” The back body is beneficial to be aware of, not only because it gives you a cue or reference point from which you create more inner space, but also because it is symbolic of the universal energy within us. The front body on the other hand is symbolic of our ego or of a more singular energy. Although both are necessary and good, the back body is the unseen energy and therefore more of a challenge to be aware of, making it easier for our ‘egos’ to take center stage.
The practice of Pilates is all about taking a step back and softening our egos in order to connect us to our back. This concentrated physical effort to balance our front with our back (ego with universal), I believe, can also indirectly connect us to something ‘bigger’ than ourselves. Clearly a strong and tall ego will allow us to move forward and reach for our desires. However, too much ego, without the consideration of the unseen and universal back energy, could surely deplete and exhaust us. Balancing the two, with a slight edge to the back body, will allow for something better.
Personally, I have experienced both extremes! I have had too much ‘ego’ with too much discipline and rigidity in my practices, without considering the current situation and others involved, making for an unhappy ending. Also, in my physical practice, most of you know that I have a love affair with backbends. I love them so much as I feel invigorated every time I do one. However, I have learned that if I do not take the time to also balance my practice of backbends with something to bring my back and me back to neutral, all the back bending or emphasis on opening up my front body, is like drinking too many cups of coffee. We all know too much coffee, although oh so good, can lead you to feel anxious, jittery, and just not well. That said, it is valuable for me to also incorporate some basic forward folds (as I breathe in my back body) in my practice of backbends.
The practice of Pilates encourages us to connect to our backs, both physically and metaphorically. It’s a beautiful and humbling practice that hopefully reminds us all to soften more, let go more, yield more, forgive more, be okay not to be “right” more, all without losing our capacity to love ourselves and stand tall in who we are.
I hope you breathe into your back…