I recently gave a Pilates session to a new mom who is a friend of mine, and was inspired to write this as I witnessed the healing potential of Pilates. These days we hear so much about core strength but what I find over and over is that the first step is really to discover/uncover the core. Researchers in Australia are saying that you can’t strengthen the core. What’s going on?
If we slow down, and find a way to BE in our body with an accepting presence, we can connect with our core during a deep sigh; dropping our belly button to our spine. Core exercise enters a new dimension. Giving birth is a core issue (and another dimension too). What I witnessed in this Pilates session was a trauma pattern from birthing find it’s release. It was inspiring.
Birth is a core issue on every level: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Without it, we wouldn’t exist and, ready or not, conscious or not: when you are giving birth you are in your core. Sometimes it leaves some aftershock. In any case, it is an impact. In this case, every time my friend did a leg circle her whole lower torso went along: her leg and her pelvis were one. Actually it was her leg all the way up to her ribs. Her femur couldn’t roll in her hip socket. It was kind of a frozen unit. It had an emotional content. She remembered her fear and the awesomeness of the birth. The sheer wonder of how huge it was; how hard it was.
Working gently, we moved around through some exercises, breathing, relaxing the jaw, dropping the belly button to the spine, and came back to these leg circles…And! The legs were free, her pelvis relaxed and dropped away from her leg. Now we could begin to perceive stability in the core; her pelvis remembering and feeling herself. Her psoas released from it’s holding. And that’s another thing, the psoas. The psoas, since it is a flexor, is part of the fear reflex. Only one fear is considered instinctive and that is the fear of falling with the instinctive reaction to close into the fetal position. To immobilize. Fear is sensed through the psoas muscle. After our work, there was no more frozen pattern; there was softness and freedom.
I left this session a bit awestruck at the change in my friend’s body from this one brief encounter. The subtlety and power of the exercises of Joseph Pilates and how they wakeup, and, dare we say, strengthen the core are a treasure when used with awareness and in the spirit of exploration. Pilates is not really about sit-ups. It is about stabilizing the core so you can have more freedom in movement. It is about the relationship between freedom and structure and how to be happy in your body. Pilates develops sensitivity and awareness and from this place healing can happen gently and joyfully.
Image Credit: Body in Balance