Long Life Movement

Pilates for Resiliency

Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  If you’ve lived a few decades, you have had to be resilient.

I often joke in class that none of us get through life without challenges. And, while we all laugh, it is a laugh of knowing. We know it’s true.

I was first introduced to Pilates around 1997 just after my first child was born. Like most women, I was attracted to the sales pitch of strengthening my core. Since I was postpartum, I latched on to the idea of gaining my flat belly back like a wide mouth bass closing in on a worm on a line.

Furthermore, I remember an exercise called leg circles. As I executed the movement, I heard my left hip joint repeatedly click. Now, I have chased the root cause of that sound and its effect on my body for over two decades.

I have been resilient in my pursuit of understanding.

Mostly, from attending high level movement teacher trainings to working privately with stellar movement therapists, I have a greater connection to my body and the Pilates Method.

Senior teachers have told me that it takes time to get “the work” into your own body. Then, we spend the rest of our lives helping others by transmitting the teachings.

Twenty-five years later, I recognize flat abs are no longer my goal.

I seek resiliency. I seek resiliency on all levels of my being. Yet, what I teach is physical resilience through the Pilates Method.

What is physical resiliency?

A great understanding of the term resiliency is the ability of an object or person to spring back into shape or maintain elasticity. It’s our ability to bounce back.

What are examples of physical resiliency?

• Recovering well from an injury

• Enjoying life while having a special condition

• Returning to pain free movement post surgery

• Enduring a long work trip and still having energy for your family

• Doing household and yard work and still feeling like going for a walk

Pilates and Physical Resilience

I love that the idea of resiliency is connected to bouncing back, elasticity, and springing back into shape. The Pilates large apparatus is loaded with springs of various lengths and densities.

Initially in the work, the springs move us. From flexed spines to extended legs, at first, we feel the direction of a pain free and delightful movement through a full range of motion.

Eventually, we learn to “resist the springs.” The springs no longer move us into shapes. And our work evolves into controlling our return.

Finally, when “the work” that defines the Pilates Method is really in us, we recognize that we are the springs. And that recognition is a tremendous life milestone.

In addition, I believe this simple recognition is what makes us resilient because something is no longer controlling us (the springs) and we are no longer controlling another (the springs). We simply become who we are in the present moment as we move through time and space.

How Do We Gain Resiliency?

  1. Accept that life is change.

    Our ability to change has made us adaptable and resilient. It is why we have survived this long. So, we embrace change.

  2. Remain in self discovery.

    There is always something new for us to learn or to reclaim. Our process is to remain open to the potential of new understanding.

  3. Take thoughtful action based on wisdom.

    We have an innate intelligence. As well, we receive signals all day long. Some messages are received via the nervous system as pain. We have choice of how to act in that moment.

  4. Pursue goals.

    When pursuing goals, we understand the value of both the product and the process. The product is the fruit of our goal. The process is the method by which we work toward our goal.

  5. Rest with hope.

    We all begin somewhere. And from the place of acceptance, we grow. Remember, often a small shift creates a ripple effect.

Building Resilience

We build resilience through movement in our Pilates classes. We learn to witness ourselves, adapt to change, and breathe with the experience.

Most of all, spending time with others who can relate to our experience increases our feelings of being supported. Encouragement nurtures us.

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about the author

Lisa Long, M.A.

Lisa Long wants to live in a world where Love gives you a "permission slip" to drop the mask and be who you are. Known for her hearty and full-body laugh, Lisa meets people where they are in the present moment. She passionately believes in the healing potential of movement. As a teacher and producer/writer, her work has been featured on Good For You blog, CBS television station affiliates, and telelvision cable channel networks as well her print manual called "Home Practice: A Guide for Healing from Breast Cancer" was published by a 5 hospital health care network. When she's not helping others reach their fullest potential, you'll find Lisa hiking a trail to a waterfall or riding her bike at the beach. Her latest collaboration with an online classroom platform launched in 2020.

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