Returning to Pilates After Illness
We all know how great exercise (and Pilates most of all!!) is for your health. We read about it, our doctors lecture us about and we have all, hopefully experienced it - the increased levels of energy, the release of tension and stress and the improvement to our immune systems, to mention just a very few. However I am absolutely positive that every single one of us has come up with reasons (read…excuses) as to why we cannot attend class that particular day - and I know that our “reasons” for skipping class can range from the eminently practical, to the ever so slightly outrageous. I will put up my hand and say that I have been ever so slightly guilty of this…
Although so often it comes down to habits formed…our body remembers feeling strong and energised at the end of a class, we notice that with regular attendance that we no longer have that lower back ache/tight neck/knee pain at the end of a day, and that is what gets us pulling on our leggings even when our To Do List is longer than our arm. However what happens when illness takes you out of the game and you lose that habit altogether?
Last year, I personally had suffered from two serious illnesses, only 5 months apart. Dengue fever (also delightfully described as Break-Bone fever) and Pneumonia. Interestingly I had different thoughts and responses about returning to my beloved Pilates after each hospitalisation. After my first illness, the fever, I was desperate to return to the studio. I wanted to move and stretch. To feel my breath and circulation, after being so sluggish and stilted, to start to really get moving again.
However, after the Pneumonia, I felt as mentally low as I did physically. So low, in fact, that I decided to return to accountancy rather than teaching. Although at the end of each day in the office, I would feel my shoulders up around my ear and my spine curved in on itself. As the aches and niggles began to build up I knew that the only thing was to return to the mat. This time rather than going at it hammer and tongs, I respected where my body was at and took it slowly.
The wonderful thing about Pilates is that is is so brilliantly adaptable. There are hundreds exercises and for each of those a number of possible modifications. It is a low impact exercise that can be tailored to many fitness levels and needs. It is also more than simply a set of exercises, the attention to each movement and focus on breath brings the co-ordination of mind, body and spirit that was so fundamental to Joseph Pilate’s beliefs.
After an illness you can almost feel disconnected from your body, but the right class and a good teacher can really help you start to feel yourself again. If you’d like, have a word with your teacher before the start of the class and I am absolutely positive she will be more than happy to hear from you. Just remember, the mat is ready to go whenever you are!