In 1945, Joseph Pilates wrote his famous exercise manual titled, “Return to Life.” His intent was to motivate others to combat a “modern culture” full of “constant pushing, shoving, rushing, crowding and wild scrambling.” He saw the damage of this pace “in our manner of standing walking, sitting, eating and even talking…resulting in our nerves “being on edge” from morning to night and depriving us of our needed sleep.”
We live even less natural lives than we did in 1945. Physical health has continued to decline, emotional stress has continued to increase. Many of us feel hopeless.
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”Joseph Pilates
In recent years, science has identified the anatomic location where the mind and body connect. It is in our FASCIA. Fascia is our connective tissue and it is present everywhere in the body. It runs deeply throughout every cell, and also superficially as slippery “silver skin,” encapsulating our muscles and organs.
Some areas of the body have dense layers of fascia and other areas are less dense. A single layer of fascia is much like an elastic spider web. Then, as fascia is layered, it becomes more supportive like a mesh, supporting our movements and keeping our bodies in an upright suspension.
This mesh of connective flesh is a single, unbroken organ. For this reason, fascia carries vital messages to and from the body and the brain. In order to maintain clear communication on these fascial highways, our tissues must be smooth and clean. This cleanse is achieved, naturally, by movements which spiral and stretch. Modern lifestyles, full of convenience and ease, no longer require that we spiral or stretch.
Since most of us aren’t even aware that these movements are important, we simply don’t do them.
As a direct result of an unnatural, linear movement style, many of us have areas of fascia which are bound and dry. If unmoved over long periods of time, these tissues become dysfunctional, which can be felt by the body in two main ways.
First, the tissues will get tight. This restricts range of motion. As our fascia is a singular, connected being; less movement in one area of the body will cause a domino effect of tightnesses throughout the entire physical system.
Tightly bound tissues are unnatural, so the fascia will send messages of danger back to the brain. As there is no actual threat, our emotional stress will increase (anxiety) and the brain may trigger physical pain symptoms as a distraction, a phenomena known in the medical community as Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), a psychophysiologic disorder (PPD). TMS pain symptoms can include migraines, headaches, back pain, digestive issues, neuromas, high blood pressure and more.
In our present culture, emotional detachment is praised and valued as strength while natural sensitivity and vulnerability are shamed and seen as weakness. Emotional stress, especially when repressed, can trigger a vicious cycle of fear and pain symptoms which can last days, weeks, months or years.
Learn how to feel well.
What is that like? Physical wellness provides a natural feeling of strength and grace. Look at a wild animal. See how they move with such intention, power and lightness. You can feel natural in your body as well.
Coupled with the support of the brilliant Pilates springs, you will begin to trust your elastic connective tissues to suspend your body through movements. You will gain strength and confidence in those movements and in life. As the limiting beliefs and fears that you hold about your body begin to diminish, learn that you are stretchy. Learn that you are strong. Unlearn everything else.
Ultimately, my philosophy is very simple: feel more so you can hurt less.