This photo was taken after hours of crawling under my house doing home repairs. What does it have to do with Mindful Movement? Everything. When I injured my back at 25 years old, my injury was so severe that I couldn't physically perform even basic home maintenance. For the first time in my life, I hired a house cleaner because it hurt to move, let alone push a vacuum. I had to sleep on the floor, lying on my back with my legs propped up on a chair, to take pressure off my spine. Over the course of a year, I would seek medical advice from six different doctors. They would follow the standard practice: a cocktail of prescription drugs and rest. Months later, when I still suffered from chronic pain and limited ability to perform daily tasks, like sitting for longer than 10 minutes, the standard medical advice became cortisone injections and nerve blocks (which is literally burning your nerve endings so that you can't feel the pain anymore.) I took the cortisone injection with no relief and stopped short before the nerve block, which seemed crazy to me. These doctors told me that I could never run, dance or surf again. Ultimately, my back injury was so debilitating, that I lost my dream job as a firefighter/paramedic and sunk into a deep depression. Joy from an athletic, adventurous life was replaced by a bottle of wine, a pint of ice cream, and the occasional morning when getting out of bed didn't hurt so much.
Physical therapists, Feldenkrais therapists and massage therapists offered some relief through their guidance and healing hands - but it was a neurosurgeon who didn't follow the status quo and recommended Pilates, who changed my life. I felt a difference after my first session. It didn't relieve all my pain immediately, but I started to learn to move differently. As I developed healthier movement patterns, I increased my range of motion and my capacity to get through the day without pain medication. As time went on, the improvements continued - better posture, decreased pain level and decreased frequency of it interfering with my daily life. It also increased my ability to participate in the simple pleasures of sitting through a meal with a friend, driving to the beach and picking up my baby niece. I finally started to feel like I had some control over my own body.
I've been practicing Pilates regularly for 15 years now. It isn't a miracle that has completely healed me, but it is a practice that has given me my life back. When I was injured at 25 years old, the medical advice I received from most doctors was to stop moving. I truly believe that if I had accepted this advice indefinitely, I would have trouble moving at all now, at the age of 42. I believe that some medical doctors now realize that this traditional approach isn't beneficial to long-term, whole body recovery. I think there is also more recognition that this "rest, wait, medicate" approach can wreak havoc on mental health, as well. I truly hope that the mainstream "healthcare" system will catch up to what many "alternative" healthcare practitioners have known for years: Movement is medicine.
That silly photo of me crawling out from underneath my house after doing repairs represents a happy, able-bodied person. I still have physical limitations - and I respect them. But, with mindfulness and proper movement training through modalities such as Pilates, I'm able to not only perform the daily tasks of home maintenance, but I am able to run, surf and dance! My Mindful Movement practice helped me survive a life-changing injury and overcome severe depression. This practice is what allows me to thrive today. The mental, physical and emotional benefits of this practice inspired me start this business called Mindful Movement. I am deeply grateful to be able to share this passion with you.