So much more than stretching

So much more than stretching

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Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE my job as
a Pilates Instructor.  I have loved
Pilates since the moment I did my first mat class way back in 2005 (or was it
2006?). I instantly loved the way it calmed my mind while activating,
strengthening and stretching my body, all at the one time.  I knew then that this wouldn’t be just
another thing I tried and gave up on.  
Pilates for me would be for life. 
I am often asked by people who don’t know, “What is Pilates?”   It is hard to put into a short sentence, but
recently I have settled on what I think the essence of Pilates is.  Joseph Pilates says in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology (1945)
“If your spine is inflexibly
stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young” (p16)
And that is at the heart of what I think Pilates is all
about.  It is about keeping our spine
flexible, the muscles around it strong and supple, so the spine can move
freely.  It is about ensuring that we
move in a way that is connected to our centre, so we are supporting and protecting
our spine, always.  It is about finding
the perfect balance, where we find efficiency or ease of movement.   Every
part of our body from our feet to the crown of our head is in some way
connected to, and has an effect on, our spine. 
So yes, Pilates often does involve some stretching, but I
think lots of people do have the wrong idea about what it might be like to go
to a Pilates class.  I went to a special
Christmas class that one of my Pilates teachers put on as an end of year present
for his clients.  We were allowed to
bring someone along to give Pilates a go. 
Several women bought their husbands/boyfriends with them.  It was fun to watch as the guys struggled and
gained some insight and understanding of just how difficult and complex this
system of movement is.  Pilates is
definitely not easy.  But at the same
time, it is adaptable, so that any body (note the deliberate space between
those two words), can do Pilates.  I have
seen children, old people (we are talking in their 90s!), super skinny
people,  morbidly obese people, people
with severe injuries, elite athletes, new Mums, dancers, people who have never
been in a gym or played sport in their lives, and everyone in between, do
Pilates and do it well.
I think that people also may underestimate the knowledge and
abilities of their Pilates teacher. 
Anyone can open a studio and call it Pilates, however there has been a
lot of work done over the past decade to try and regulate the industry to
ensure quality education for Pilates teachers, and in turn, positive
experiences for our clients.  There is a
significant amount of work involved in becoming a Pilates teacher, and that learning that doesn’t stop throughout your career. 
I was filling in for a teacher recently and one
of her clients thanked me about twenty times throughout her lesson.  It was nice to feel appreciated.  I mentioned to her that I didn’t need that
much thanks though, that I was just doing my job.  She said that she used to teach swimming and
knew how it felt to not be thanked for the hard work you put in.  Immediately, I understood what she
meant. 
See, as a teacher, it isn’t just about what you have learnt
during your qualification.  A good
teacher gives everything to their students. 
Continual practice, planning and thought goes into being a good
teacher.  Unpaid hours of research, analysis, and finding
new resources.  Learning more about the
body.  Building relationships with your
clients, because for a lot of what we need to do, there needs to be trust
between instructor and student.  We give
ourselves phychologically to our clients too, often giving you the last ounce
of energy we have in our sometimes almost empty tank!
It is a careful
balance of knowing when to push someone and when to hold them back.  Knowing what to release, what to stretch,
what to activate and what to strengthen. 
It is about making safe progressions, using our hands, words and bodies
to teach you a better way of moving so that your quality of life improves. 
It can be challenging, physical work.  I am often exhausted at the end of a
shift.  But OMG how I love it! 
Pilates has made me stronger. It has made me more flexible.  It has taught me mindfulness and helped heal
my body and mind.  It has introduced me
to some wonderful, inspiring people.  It
lifts my spirits and brings me clarity and energy.  And that is what I hope I can bring to my
clients each time I teach. 
So next time you go to a class of any kind, Pilates,
swimming, gym, art, whatever it may be, take a minute to think about what your
teacher has given you that day.  A small
thankyou at the end goes a long way to making them feel appreciated, and might
just re-spark their energy or passion for what they do once more. 
Until next time,
E xx
PS – if you are interested in giving Pilates a go, contact me to have a chat.  I can recommend some great studios 😉

Checking in

Checking in

These are my words for the year.  I thought that since February is almost over, it is a good time to check in with you about how your year is going.  What are your words for the year?   How are you going with your resolutions/intentions?  Anything you need to think about again and reset?  

I’m pretty happy with the year so far in terms of my intentions and my core desired feelings.  I am choosing to do things that bring me closer to those feelings and I think I am on track for a great year! 

I would love to hear how you are going.  Comment below! 

Until next time,
E xx

How do you stay you while still being a Mum?

How do you stay you while still being a Mum?

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of catching up with a friend of mine from work . She has a lot on her plate – she has three babies under the age of two (an almost two year old daughter and two month old twins!).  She is amazingly together, I don’t know how she does it, but she seems really calm and collected.

We were discussing my blog and I asked what she would like to read about.  She asked a really good question,  how do you be a Mum without losing who you are?

So lets see if we can help her out.

I think the short answer is Core Desired Feelings, and the need to stay connected.  To yourself, to what’s important to you, and to others.  More about that later.

Firstly and most importantly, i think you need to be kind to yourself. This particular Mum is very early on in her journey as second time Mum, and it takes time just to figure out how to keep the family alive each day!  It is hard enough adding one baby to the family’s existing structure and routine, so I have no idea how she is managing with twins!  When the baby/babies are little, I think it’s really important to not expect too much from yourself.  Allow yourself time and space to get to know these gorgeous new little souls, and work out how each of you fit into this new world.

I honestly think that when you become a mother and primary care giver for small children, something shifts inside of you.  Rather than think about it as not losing yourself, i found it more to be about finding out who i am now in this new reality.  When we become a mother, we tend to step out of our masculine energy (the part of us that is career driven, always on the go) and are forced to stop, and either embrace or resist our feminine energy.  The magic happens when we can learn to embrace this time, enjoy it for what it is, and work this new role into our existing beliefs about who we are.  When we lean into the softness, become more gentle, that we can truly find out who we are.

There are lots of ways to connect with who you are at this time in your life.  The best way I have found is to just slow down.  Slow down and meditate.  It doesn’t have to be full on either, I started with three minute meditations three times a day.  With that stillness comes clarity.  The quiet allows our intuition a chance to be heard.  And in a funny twist of fate, by slowing down, I have discovered that I am actually able to do more.  Being in the moment, giving whatever it is that I’m doing m full attention, means that I do a better job at whatever I am turning my attention to.

The stillness and quiet allows you to figure out what is important to you.  Who you were before the babies came along, is still who you are now.  You are still in there, just a lot busier now with another, very important role.  Our Core Desired Feelings tend to stay stable across time and circumstance.  What drives you?  What are the things that are important to you now?  How do you want to feel every day, and what can you do to achieve those feelings?  What you can manage each day will look different depending on where you are in the motherhood journey.

Once the dust settles, and I promise, it will settle, then you can give yourself the space to claim back a little of yourself.  I think it is an incremental process. Start off with small things, like a cup of tea out in the garden when the babies are sleeping.  Or a long, guilt free shower.  Gradually, as things get easier, you are able to claim more time for yourself.  Give yourself one morning/night a week to do something you love – go for coffee with a friend, go to the gym or for a walk, get your nails done, read a book at the library, do some painting, or do whatever it is that lights you up inside when you have an hour to spare.

An important part of maintaining that sense of self when you have small children (and always!), is staying connected to other people.  Sometimes, as a stay at home parent, it can be lonely and isolating.  Some days it feels like too much hard work to go out and see people or have people over at your place.  And that’s ok.  But they key to happiness is creating and maintaining quality relationships with people.  So, my advice would be to make time to spend with those who connect you to who you are in your various roles in life – join a mothers group, catch up with your awesome former workmates (who don’t mind if you are in your pjs and haven’t showered for a week!), have your girl friends around for arvo tea.  It is hard to always catch up in person, so maybe part of your “me time” each week could be an hour where you get to lock yourself away in your bedroom and have a good chat on the phone to a close friend.  Or set up a “update email group” where a group of related people (friends, co-workers, family, mothers group etc) send short regular updates on what you have been up to.  I have stolen this idea from Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft (sisters who host the Happier podcast), who have this system in their family.  They came up with the idea after realizing that they have more to talk about when they finally are able to catch up in person if they know what has been happening in each other’s every day lives.  There is no expectation to reply to the emails unless you want to, and they are supposed to be short. I imagine the same idea could work on Snapchat, or set up a Facebook group and use the messaging feature.

My last piece of advice my friend would be to accept offers of help.  People want to help you, so take them up on their offers.  Let them come and enjoy snuggles with the babies and use that time to do something to refresh and recharge you.  Take a shower, a walk or a nap, hang out the washing (or let your friend do it for you), so you score some bonus free time later in the day.

So what do you all think, dear readers? Do you have any ideas for how my friend can stay connected to her former self?  What worked for you or what do you wish you had done differently? Comment below – you never know, yours may be the idea that is right for her. And it might make her, or other Mums feel a little less alone.

Until next time,
E xx

PS – if you are looking for a great program to help you reconnect with who you are, I can recommend the Reconnect Program run by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz of Happymama.com.au  Details of the program are at http://happymama.com.au/programs/reconnect-program/

Happy New Year!  (better late than never?!?!)

Happy New Year! (better late than never?!?!)

Image from Pinterest
Happy new year!
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year
like I did.  I have had a wonderful
couple of weeks balancing my love of teaching Pilates with spending cherished
time with my husband and children.  We
managed to pack a lot of fun into the last few weeks around the extra shifts I
did and I am refreshed and ready to go for 2017. 
It seems a bit weird talking about New Year now at the end
of January doesn’t it?  I guess it feels
a bit more like New Year now for me though, and many others I’m guessing.  Over the weekend it was the first New Moon of
the year, Chinese New Year, and the kids all go back to school this week.  It signifies an end to summer holidays and
the beginning of getting back into a routine for the year. 
Do you set New Years Resolutions each year?  I’m not usually one to do it, and if I do it
is something trivial.  I am also not
generally one to sit down and right out a list of goals, life plans or anything
like that.  However, this year, things
have been a little different.  I have
drawn inspiration from a number of sources including Danielle LaPorte’s Goals with Soul course, Hal Elrod’s Level 10 Life  concept, and Amy Taylor-Kabbaz’s Mission Statement for 2017What drew me to each of these (and other
similar ideas) was the focus on how I want to feel in my life.  Rather than being a big list of things to do,
the idea is to challenge myself to move closer towards the Core Desired
Feelings in all that I do, and use those feelings as a guide for what I want to
do/achieve.  I’ve spent a fair bit of
time thinking about how I want my life to be this year, and this is what I’ve
come up with:
  • ·        
    If I had to summarise how I would like my year
    to be this year, these words come to mind- Energised, Intentional/on purpose,
    nourish, action, intuition, sensual (as in living with all my five senses fully
    alive), colourful, action, dream, learn, inspired, finish/complete, challenge,
    reclaim, rise.

  • ·        
    My Core Desired Feelings are Creative, Calm, Connected, and Divine
    Feminine.
    Creative Calm Connected seem to be working really well for me
    since I settled on them last year.  But I
    felt there was something else missing.  I
    feel like I’m at the beginning of a new cycle in life, and it turns out that some
    people believe that 2017 is the beginning of a new nine year cycle.  The past cycle for me was pretty much about
    us having our family, and now that our little family is complete, I feel ready
    to take on new challenges, to focus on new things (including of course spending
    time with and raising our beautiful kids) and broadening my role.  Now that I am a Mum I have felt the need to
    slow down a little, become more childlike in some ways in that I want to be
    more present in each and every moment. 
    And I also want to connect better with the softer, feminine side of who
    I am.  At the moment I am drawn to be
    home, focussed on the children, spending time with those I am closely connected
    with emotionally, and embracing my creative side.  I’m less about the deadlines and career
    ladder climbing, and more about nurturing. 
    Embracing the divine feminine for me is about allowing myself to be
    softer, listening to my intuition, being creative, feeling beautiful, slowing
    down, feeling joy and love. 

  • ·        
    I don’t want to feel just content with
    life.  I want to be energised and
    thrilled by it.  I want to wake up each
    day and jump out of bed with excitement for what the day will bring.

  • ·        
    I want to live more with intention.  Making sure that I am making the most of
    every minute, deciding how I will spend my time based on what my family and I
    value most. 

  • ·        
    I want to tap into my intuition and allow it to
    guide me and influence decisions more than just being logical and ruled by my
    head.  Getting more of a balance between
    head and heart I suppose. 

  • ·        
    I have also decided that this is going to be the
    year of the “challenge”.  I seem to be
    better able to manage habit change when there is a reason for the change, e.g. a
    30 day challenge.  So, this year I am
    going to have a go at a few and see if I can kick start some good change.  The first one is the 30 Days Of You Challenge
    that I started last Thursday, which is focusing on the mind, body and spirit
    and getting us focused and prepared for the year ahead. I will write about
    other challenges as they come up, but some ideas I’ve come across and am
    interested in are

o  
The Modern Mrs Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge – there are actually two challenges to choose from – one if you want to be reading
for fun, and one for reading for growth, or you could do both.  I plan to do both over the course of the
year.  The idea is you pick books based
on a number of categories within the challenge. 
This idea is appealing to me because I have felt stuck in a bit of a
reading rut lately, always picking the same type of books.  Hopefully this challenge will inspire some
diversity in my reading.
o  
Hal Elrod’s 30 Day Miracle Morning Challenge – Based
on the principles outlined in The Miracle
Morning,
the 30 day challenge could be a great way for me to kick start some
positive morning routines. 
o  
An alcohol free month – eg dry July/Octsober
o  
Thank and Grow Rich – “a 30 day experiment in
shameless gratitude and unabashed joy”
  • ·        
    I have been inspired by a couple of quotes
    lately from podcasts lately and I thought they could almost be like little
    motto’s or mantras for me this year: 

o  
The first one was Danielle LaPorte in a podcast
I listened featuring her and she was discussing the importance of saying no to
others so that you have room to say yes to yourself and what you
want/need.  She said to listen to your
instincts when someone asks you to go somewhere/do something.  “If it’s not a HELL YES¸ then it’s a no.”
o  
The other one is from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast,  HappJhHappier HApppHHHHhhhhahahHHapppier Happier, where she said a recent
philosophy of hers is “if you cant get
out of it, get into it”
. The idea being, if there is something that you have to do, but are not really wanting to, it will probably be better for you and all involved if you just let go and decide to really make the most of it.  I like this idea.  A change in your attitude to something is sometimes all you need to make it much more enjoyable.  
I would love to hear from you about your
resolutions/goals/plans for the year.  Did you make any new years resolutions?  How are you going with them so far?  Do
you have any ideas for other challenges I should undertake?  Would you like to do any of the challenges
with me?  I would love to hear your
thoughts so make sure you comment below. 
Until next time,
E xx

Merry Christmas and Thankyou

Merry Christmas and Thankyou

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I hope you all have a magical Christmas and make some treasured memories with your loved ones in the coming days.

Thankyou all for taking the time to read my blog.  I appreciate each and every one of you.  You have made my dreams come true this year, so THANKYOU xx

I might take a little break for a week or so and spend some much needed time with my husband and babies.  I hope you will be doing the same.

Until next time, I hope Santa is good to you

Merry Christmas
Love E xx