23
Mar

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When I first read Joseph Pilates’ Return to Life, the line that stopped me in my tracks was “Decide to remain true to yourself.” To me, this statement encapsulates the very essence of The Method.

There is an unparalleled feeling when you do the work and feel it in your own body. When you show up for yourself,  you experience a kind of euphoric high that simultaneously makes you feel lighter than air and grounded, confident and powerful. You feel this way, because when you move your body intelligently, allowing the breath to illuminate the path ahead, you enliven and awaken the spirit. You feel lighter because you become more enlightened, more conscious, more sentient!

It comes from a commitment to yourself and the practice of following through, so that you can be your very best.

When you honor yourself and do the work, you are rewarded. You are left with a feeling of magic brewing … you are reminded of what it feels like to be truly alive! When you dedicate yourself consistently to a ritual of self-love, it entitles you to a lifetime of learning and upward-spiraling excellence, not only in body and mind, but in spirit—how on any given day, even when you’re feeling tired or low, meeting yourself exactly where you are with lovingkindness and appreciation is how you’ll invite your body to partner with you in your daily excursions and help you rise to your own occasion— to be true to you!

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Don’t you think it’s time that this joyful feeling of self-fulfillment be yours?

Time to rise to your own occasion and make yourself proud. When you commit to being your best, you inspire the same in others–hence the origins of “living by example … ” This superlative interconnection between the self and the world at large, particularly our trusted intimates, provides everyone who chooses to notice the connection– with a mirror. When movement springs from a place of knowing and experience, like the truth itself, it can be passed along in that same spirit of purity, dynamism and inspiration. Executed with finesse, vim and vigor, even the simplest gesture tempts the onlooker to want to move in the same way! Why? Because it’s magic. You’ve turned it on and it’s irresistible.

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21
Nov

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Yes, that’s me sitting there and smiling proudly on the cover of my 2006 release of Hot Body Cool Mind, feeling great in my then Lulu ensemble, “Deep V” tank and Groove pants, just one of countless similar outfits that graced most of my DVD covers that sit next to your tv’s, ready to go, as we speak.

Sadly today, however, I’m not feeling particularly jolly or joyful– the way I looked on my 2006 cover. I’m feeling angry and disappointed. And like some of my brave peers, I feel compelled to speak out about the truth of what has long been hiding beneath the 4-way stretch and alleged “no-stink” technologies Lululemon espouses. Something does in fact stink at Lululemon. Something is rotten in the state of fancy yoga and Pilates apparel, and he looks like this:

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No, today, I am not smiling, but I am feeling damn good about two things:

#1. That unbeknownst to Mr. Chip “No rub” Wilson, the day he had his team name me Ambassador, my well-muscled, dancerly thighs did in fact not only touch, but RUB, and they still do!

#2. I am downright proud that I have thighs that touch AND rub, and I love my beautiful, curvaceous, womanly body and celebrate it!

Today, I tendered my resignation and sent an official letter to the original “Lululemon Community Team” in Philadelphia, terminating my Ambassadorship and my affiliation with the company.

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13
Sep

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I have always thought of the combination of Pilates and Yoga as the perfect marriage.
Both are transformational, focused methods of movement that literally help you to “meet” yourself, to discover your capabilities and facilitate positive change in the body, mind and spirit. In my opinion, their differences complement one another in the best of ways. While Yoga is better known for its philosophical and spiritual components, Pilates also inspires spiritual evolution, but this aspect is not emphasized as much as the physical component; Pilates is known as a “workout,” and Yoga as a “practice,” however, the irony here, is that in order to get good at anything, we have to practice, and done correctly, both Pilates and Yoga are both a workout and a practice. And as you will see, both are worthy of your time and attention for innumerable reasons.

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Here’s a cool, little-known fact for many of you out there: Joseph H. Pilates, who invented the Pilates Method, studied yoga and most of the exercises you’ll see in a Pilates workout are inspired by yoga. The poses in yoga are incredibly similar to the shapes and positions of the body in Pilates exercises; the difference is that in yoga, one holds poses longer, and in Pilates, you move at a slightly faster pace. Rather than holding a pose longer the way you would in a yoga class, staying in one position and cajoling the body into stretching more deeply through the breath, in Pilates, the practitioner dynamically extends as far as possible into a greater range of motion within a limited amount of time using self-imposed isometric resistance, core awareness and breath.

Both Pilates and yoga are intended to cultivate greater awareness and connection between the body and the mind, which in turn, enlivens the spirit.
Both help us to focus on the process, the “journey” of moving, breathing and stretching, rather than the end goal, which can be anything from a stronger, well-toned body to peace of mind.
Both encourage you to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome; they are each regimes that promote consciousness, evolution and self-transformation, while helping you to accrue innumerable health benefits that arise from the specific combination of connecting conscious breath to movement.

The subtle magic of Pilates and Yoga is that the work grows as you do. You rise to higher levels of challenge as your self-awareness and experience deepen. As you gain insight and as your actual physical strength increases, the work refines and redefines itself.
Both are refreshing approaches that see our physical activity as a way to restore total oneness with ourselves and create harmony with our body, mind and spirit, and under this notion, exercise becomes the means to experiencing a personal potential greater than the physical skills themselves.

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01
Aug

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Something truly miraculous has happened.

I am riding a new wave.

It all began when I took Kofi Busia’s Yoga workshop, July 19-22nd. We practiced in the sanctuary of the Fleisher Art Memorial here in Philadelphia, and what better place to reach a transcendent state than in a house of worship?

The two definitions of what I am experiencing are here below, and while they describe in concrete terms what has happened to me, they can’t come close to communicating the kind of powerful flow of energy that courses through me minute by minute now. They can’t explain that I feel more grounded in myself than I ever have … that I feel like I am somehow no longer of this earth, but instead, flying inside on these currents I have created.  Even those flying dreams I have from time to time, those dreams that make me want to return to slumber so that I can convince myself to take off again can’t come close to making me feel the way I do. And as a buddhist, while I try to practice detachment, and am successful every now and then, I can honestly say that my relationship with attachment is evolving; I feel that I can both savor the moment and let it go at the same time. New. This is new. This is a new place, and this new place features new dimensions of existence, like another planet with new terrain to explore- the possibility to experience bliss and hope, but know well, deep inside that everything is ephemeral and that it is wisest to relish each moment without assigning to it anything more than our most subtle awareness and appreciation for what it is. And in the same breath, to be able to allow myself every hope and wish and know that I have the power to make them all real. The only thing standing between me and what I long for is my doubting mind and the sludgy energy that the doubting mind creates.

Hope and love are the rays of sun that literally burn through the clouds in the mind to reveal what is real and what is possible, and since July 22nd, I am filled with gratitude that overflows its banks- a kind of grateful that stems from an awareness of myself and my power that I have never felt before. Thanks to a magical confluence of elements, and definitive choices I made, taking myself places I knew I needed to go, informed by my deep inner wisdom, I went from being stuck, in a dark, frustrated place, to standing on a summit, breathing clean, crystalline air.

“Transcendence - the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits; going beyond, and ’self-transcendence’ means going beyond a prior form or state of oneself.

I have gone beyond the prior state of myself. And oh GOD, how I want to kiss the ground because of it.

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03
Apr

contemplative-girl_1024x7685This past week I was at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. What a beautiful, gentle place, there in those motherly mountains of Massachusetts … I went for a walk yesterday on the grounds and found myself at a crossroads in front of a babbling brook. I was suddenly overcome with emotion, and the only way I can describe the feeling is by describing what happened in my stomach … I felt it rise and expand in an instant– it swelled with a kind of mini-explosion of joy that flooded my entire system, and then washed over me the way the water in the stream below me was washing over the river rocks. I was immersed in a sensory bath– the sun on my skin, and sparkling through the trees, dappling the forest floor, the pungent smell of winter becoming spring mud, coming alive again, birthing … the gorgeous, calming sound of the brook, playing its way down over the rocks into a larger source, its destiny someplace far away and of course, the breeze blowing through my hair and cooling the tears on my cheeks that were streaming down into my mouth– and then the taste of those salty tears. All such a cycle, all so connected, no separation between my tears and the water flowing through that brook. No separation between my skin and the air around me, the sun on my body, the rich smell of the earth I was standing on.

And my thoughts now go back to what happened inside me when I came to that place — that clearing where I was overwhelmed by the simple, powerful, healing beauty I was a part of … what flipped over in my stomach– what the ancients called “True Mind.”
Never mind what we know as “the mind.” I am smiling as I write this … your true, thinking self is your feeling self, your intuitive self and it resides in your stomach, in your very center.

I attended a talk on “Clearing Energy Blocks,” given by a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, and most of what he discussed was how much of our body systems are controlled by the stomach, or our “second brain.” Whatever we think and feel, manifests in our bodies, and very often, more specifically in our stomachs, of course showing up as digestive disorders of all manner and variety– so many of which would be easily healed alternatively– with mind-body practices, such as yoga, Pilates and my favorites: Yin yoga and Waking Energy.  What most of us don’t realize is that we are our thoughts and our feelings. We ARE physical manifestation of the energy of what we focus on, and very simply, when something hurts us in our bodies, when something causes us DIS-ease, it is our body’s way of communicating that it needs attention. And usually, the antidote to the pain or disease is so very, very simple and obvious: movement!

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