The Hills Are Alive
There’s nothing like a trip away from home and spending time in nature to inspire inner calm. Cliché? Yes. However on my most recent retreat to the Catalonian countryside where we did Pilates on a grassy lawn next to a beautiful garden, rode bikes past farms and Medieval churches, and hiked along the rocky coast with breathtaking views of the sea, I thought a lot about my body and how it operates differently there than it does in the chaos of New York City.
At home, there is always a time crunch and scheduling a workout can be a hassle. And the stress of that hassle combined with the stress of the city definitely takes its toll on my body.
Perhaps it was the clean air, or maybe it was the smell of grass or the wide-open spaces that gave me the extra boost of energy. More than anything, I think the beauty of my surroundings there motivated me more to be outside and to move my body. It’s that feeling of truly being alive that awakens all kinds of thoughts and awareness that, sadly, rarely happens at home.
We exercise and eat well (most of the time) because we think we should. But we also know that it makes us feel good and gives us some control over our lives, which also makes us feel good. Despite the fact that we all know how important it is for us to make that extra effort to exercise regularly, what is equally as important is to do it mindfully. Our bodies need us to take care of them. And we need to take that job seriously. We can control very few things in life, but we can do everything in our power to live healthy lives.
To really think about how you are executing a movement in Pilates or whatever activity you might be doing, not only makes the movement more effective, but it also brings you back to your body and focuses you on the moment and on yourself. This also has the benefit of giving you a break from your everyday life and stress. This is a double good thing!
If you can make no more time than 10 minutes on a given day, make it count. If you use that time to stretch, think about your alignment and try to make it an active stretch – where you have control over your body and what shape it is taking. And when you do your Pilates, practice it in the same way - with lots of precision and purpose. You will derive so much more from your workout.