My Pilates Journey - Week 5: Revisiting My Goals
I’ve reached the halfway point of my internship and I thought now would be a perfect time to revisit the goals I made in my first blog post. Since the start of my blogs, I had planned to do a half way check in this week, but I had imagined that I had written better goals in week 1. They’re in no way up to the SMART goal standard I had imagined in my head. I’m sure my old swim coach would be very disappointed!
Poor goal setting aside, my main objective was to improve my posture through Pilates. On this count, I’m definitely noticing a difference. A fair amount of this is because I am building up and using the muscles required for good posture. However, more than I had expected, a large part of this is because I am learning what better posture feels like in my body. This is because of one of the unexpected benefits that I’ve found from Pilates: an improved sense of body awareness.
Body awareness has been so useful to me, both in class and out. In class, I feel more in tune with my body and able to understand the highly specific movements in Pilates. And out of class, I feel less like a baby deer, being clumsy around the studio. A lot of this knowledge has come from relearning the things that I thought I knew about how my body moves (and doesn’t) and how I hold myself. In particular it’s been a surprisingly prolonged journey to finding out where my neutral spine is and what it feels like to move whilst my back is in this position.
Another surprising moment when I was recruited to be used as a body whilst Joakim trained one of the Lolita’s Legacy™ Pilates teacher trainees. As part of one of these sessions we simply stood in front of the mirror and assessed our posture using the guidelines set out in the training manual. There were so many ways that I hold my body that I have never before noticed or expected. For example, I already knew that I tend to slump my shoulders and neck forward, but what I wasn’t expecting was such a stark difference between the left and right side of my body. Especially how much higher I hold my left shoulder. This is something that I now continue to notice in all the various positions that I sit in throughout the day. These imbalances have also been interesting to notice whilst undertaking movements in class.
I’ve found it an important mental exercise to think of these posture quirks not as things that are wrong with my body, but rather as the ways that my body is right now. From this knowledge I can choose to work on these areas, but I’m trying to only do this with better movement in mind. This is opposed to my original mindset of fixing myself, thus implying that something was properly wrong to begin with. The other effects of Pilates on my mentality is a topic I’m planning to cover in next week’s blog post.
As much as Pilates is helping me to build strength and useful patterns of how to hold and use my body, I know I need to put in the effort to maintain these out of class if I expect to see any lasting changes to my posture. At the start of this week we took a solid step towards this. Joakim and I set me up at my desk with a cushion on my chair, laptop stand and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. This has been helping me to sit more upright throughout the day as well as encouraging me to get my shoulders off of my ears, thus releasing some of the tension that I hold in my upper back, neck and shoulders – the amazing massages here have been helping with that too!
So, all in all, Pilates has been helping me in so many ways on my journey towards a better posture (and beyond all that I’m getting strong! It’s so exciting to be able to visibly see muscles get defined on my body). In the coming weeks I’m looking forward to seeing what other changes Pilates brings to my life and I’m going to hold myself to my commitment to put the effort in outside of class.
Until next week, see you in class! – Alusha
P.S. If you want to look back on my first blog post introducing me and my goals, click here.
P.P.S. Sorry that the photo this week is a bit out of context! One of my other goals for Pilates was to build up strength for my solo camping/walking adventure in August, so I went for a photo of me at the pinnacle on Sunday of last week.