Three years ago at a pilates class in my hometown of Leeds, I re-discovered a part of myself that I'd been hiding for a long time.
I find Pilates to be a wholly immersive, relaxing experience. Full of comfortable silences, punctuated only by the sounds of controlled breathing and the gentle encouraging words from an instructor. It's a chance to completely focus on yourself with no distractions.
One week I sat up straight, after a particularly intense session on a spine corrector machine and began to cry. My mind flooded with a painful memory from my childhood which I thought was long buried and forgotten.
At first I felt confused and a little embarrassed by my reaction, but that was quickly overruled by the great sense of relief that I felt.
It was a complete release.
For episode 3 of my podcast I sat down with Kath Nisbet to see if I was the only one who'd experienced such a moment. Kath runs the studios where i'd had my epiphany and I was eager to get her professional opinion on what I had experienced. I was surprised to discover that my experience was not as uncommon at all.
Listen to Kath and I in conversation below
Kath explained that trauma gets stored in the body and if not dealt with correctly, emotions can get locked in our muscles. It's only when we feel safe in our environment and are ready to let go, that we start to release the trauma. People are often afraid to fully let go of their bodies, because for whatever reason, they don't feel safe. They become stuck in this 'stop and block' cycle, never fully addressing the physical and mental issues presenting themselves. These are the emotions that manifest as pain.
Kath is keen to stress that the body and mind exist as one machine and you can't separate the two. She describes first timers to her pilates classes as often looking like 'walking heads'. Different parts of bodies that have all been randomly stuck together where nothing is communicating; like ragdolls with no co-ordination. This is because many people fall into the trap of either masking their ailments with pills or disassociating from the area of pain by trying to ignore it.
There is a general misconception that yoga is a much more spiritual activity, and pilates is just another exercise class. But it's so much more than a class for yummy mummies to indulge in between coffee mornings and baby massage groups.
Pilates is all about opening up, not only your muscles but your mind too. Kath believes it gives people the tools they need to help them look after themselves. It certainly isn't a cure because you can't expect other people to fix you - that has to come from within.
I still find it difficult to talk about the subject of the epiphany I had on the spine corrector machine that day - maybe one day I will. However, I am thankful that it happened. I feel lighter for it.
After all, as the godfather of pilates, Joseph Pilates, once said: "It's the mind itself that shapes the body."
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