If you’ve been following my journey you will know by now that I am quite an active person, but for a long time after high school and also after coming back from England I wasn’t active at all. I was almost turning into an anti-exercise person.
My injuries in high school and the pressure I put on myself to exercise left a sour taste in my mouth for anything concerning sport and although I’d still go running from time to time, it was more something I felt I had to do than wanted to do.
Then about a year and a half ago I fell off the bed in the dark and with a huge amount of force I hit my head on the side of my desk and then the floor. For a second the whole one side of my body went numb. I was in extreme pain all over, but I also knew that the fall was really my own fault because I was trying to be silly. So, I tried to ignore the pain…
Worst mistake ever! Never ignore pain that makes your whole body contract into spasms, never!
All I can remember of that time is the extreme pain in my back, coming home from work crying from the pain and spending most of the afternoons and weekends in bed with the electric blanket on to help my back muscles stay warm.
After 2 months of the pain I finally went to a physio. It was intense and after 6 sessions I could finally walk and sit again without constant pain. During my physio sessions I also realised again, how tight all my muscles are. I’ve always been tight and I’ve always struggled with stretching, but it was on a different level now, I could barely bend down without pulling my hamstring.
I knew I had to do something because although the pain of the fall was now behind me, I was in terrible shape, or rather, my muscles were in terrible shape.
That’s when I discovered Yoga, Pilates and Mediation…
I know yoga and meditation have almost become fad exercise methods, but I truly believe that a combination of these three methods has changed my life around 180 degrees. This is what I’ve learned, or rather what yoga, pilates and meditation has taught me…
1. Start Slow
I was coming from an injury and a love-hate relationship with sport and exercise, so I needed to gradually ease into it. I started off with pilates because it still seemed semi familiar and less “other worldly”. What really got me started on my journey was pilates videos and pilates challenges from Boho Beautiful. They have a YouTube channel and slowly I started following Julian and her husband Mark’s journey through yoga and pilates. Their environmentally friendly and animal care lifestyle resonated with me and I started doing some yoga videos as well. Slowly I became confident and I felt like Juliana and Mark were on this journey to recovery with me. A comment from Juliana on an Instagram photo I posted documenting my journey gave me that extra push to continue working at this new form of exercise and I was slowly falling in love with yoga and pilates.
2. Group Classes are great for Form Training
I’m not the biggest fan of group exercise classes. There’s a reason why my preferred sport in school was athletics and not a team sport. Doing yoga and pilates group classes at the gym were different though. You can still focus on YOU but you have other people to laugh with and you have an instructor who can help you perfect those moves you are struggling with. I went to group pilates classes for nearly 6 months and it helped me with my posture so much and gave me the confidence to try new moves and push a little harder. Slowly it also got me used to being in a exercise environment again and has now eventually made gymming fun for me as well.
3. You don’t have to be the most Flexible Person ever – It Will Come
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I am not flexible at all! I’ve never been able to touch my toes, even when at my fittest in school. Just because I’m not flexible didn’t however mean I wasn’t able to do yoga and pilates. We each have our own strengths and although I’m not flexible in my hamstrings, I am flexible in my inner tights (I can do some moves people struggle for years because of this). Slowly you will start to see progress and it will be more rewarding than if you were simply flexible to start out with.
4. Progress takes time but it is Amazing to witness
A year ago I could barely bend down, now I can almost touch my toes. I can do a full flow now and do a proper downward dog. Some things I still struggle with, like lifting my leg up during a downward dog, but you compensate. The feeling of accomplishment when you see the progress is amazing and makes you want to continue. Progress is the best motivation and in especially when everything else in life might feel like a waiting game, seeing progress in your yoga and pilates practice is amazing.
5. Yoga and Pilates is not only for people who are “different”
Yoga, pilates and meditation have connections to Eastern religions and hippies, but just because you practice the sport doesn’t mean you are weird or need to conform to the way of living (if you don’t want to). There are some aspects of yogi living that I relate with completely, such as caring for the environment and vegetarian eating habits. I also love the calmness of Eastern religions such as Buddhism and I am obsessed with incense, but that does not mean I agree with everything connected with the yogi lifestyle. You are your own person and can keep those parts you relate to and discard the rest.
6. Meditation brings it all Together
I started doing meditation around the same time I started with pilates. To be honest I can’t remember why I started doing meditation but I just remember feeling like I need a change in my morning routine. I wanted to start my mornings calmer and with the right mindset. I now meditate every weekday morning for about 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the morning) using mediation videos from Boho Beautiful. Meditation helps me set the tone for the day and helps me focus on gratitude and my goals. It also brings all my other practices together as meditation is very dependent on breathing practice and you need to focus on good breathing in both yoga and pilates as well. There’s a great article on the In It for the Long Run Blog on integrating meditation into your life. Give it a read.
Ultimately yoga, pilates and mediation have allowed me to take on a life change. People have commented on how much calmer I am and it’s simply because I feel more in control of my body, mind, and breathing because of my yoga and meditation practices. Living a mindful life is difficult in this day and age but small habits can help increase our mindful awareness. Try yoga, pilates and meditation and I promise you will see a difference too.