There are a lot of benefits to exercise: healthy weight, lower blood pressure, help prevent disease, the list goes on. Another reason I like exercising, particularly doing Pilates and yoga, is that feeling strong makes me feel confident. My strengthened core gives feedback to my brain that I am strong, capable, empowered.
When my father passed away suddenly when I was 21, I remember doing Pilates on my childhood home’s den floor the morning of the funeral. And I remember thinking, “No matter what is happening in my life, I can keep doing these Pilates exercises a few times a week to help me feel strong and centered.”
Five years later I incurred a back injury that prevented me from doing most of the Pilates and yoga that I had so dedicatedly performed. It wasn’t until 2 years later that I felt fully safe to perform those exercises again. And at that point my regular Pilates/yoga practice had incorporated the exercises I had been prescribed in physical therapy.
Several years after my back had healed, I was pregnant with our child. This led to another set of exercises that best fit my body.
My regular practice of Pilates/yoga has taken on several forms over the past decade, many months where I hardly did any at all. But thankfully now I am at a point in my life where I am neither injured nor pregnant, and I am trying to begin most of my days with some light Pilates, yoga, and/or physical therapy exercises (related to each other, to be sure.)
My mind was racing this morning, more than the usual background hum. My mom has been in town for a lovely five-day visit and is leaving today. I will miss her! Also, on and off for the past few months, I have been having headaches and I am stressing over whether I should schedule an MRI or not, when it will be, and how I want to call the neurologist to ask her if I really need the MRI now that is seems that my second episode of headaches has stopped…
Anyway, I knew some breathing and mat exercises would help center and calm me. As I said, they make me feel more secure in my body and my mind.
But then again, I know it’s a false sense of security. Over the years I have had relatives as well as friends pass away tragically in their 30s. This past week I spoke with two friends who lost loved ones in their 20s and 30s, respectively. Both were sudden, out of the blue.
And of course, there is my father’s sudden passing. And while he was in his mid-60s, he was a runner and acted and looked like he was in his 50s. I’m sure starting a family in his mid-40s helped him stay young too.
The point is, my father’s sudden death taught me that no matter how much I try, I cannot control what will happen. And all the other tragic stories I’ve heard validate this point.
Nevertheless I appreciate the feeling of strength and centeredness that doing Pilates and yoga affords me.
And I don’t think it’s a contradiction. Life is not black and white, even though my mind often thinks in these terms.
We can acknowledge the fleeting nature of life, the lack of control we have, while at the same time seek stability and groundedness.