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October 10, 2016

What does it mean to Choose Grace?

"As you rise in the morning, we ask you to pause before you jump up and race to your morning rituals. Pause, and hear the sound of your beating heart. Breathe in and out. Honoring your life. It is a very simple reflection, but this was the spark that fueled the development of Grace Pilates + Yoga. It is the founding ideal of our studio."

One might ask, what does it mean to choose Grace? It means that in all moments you choose to honor your life, your body, your spirit. It is not a secret that some pretty horrible life events have played out in my personal life over the past few years.My husband’s battle with cancer, remission, and recent recurrence to stage IV have cracked me wide opened with questions of what in this world matters, and who I want to be when I grow up (I still have time, right?). Many of you might know that my husband’s first diagnosis came shortly after I began teaching Pilates. It was at this time that I had acquired a strong personal practice of classical Pilates.

In that time of chaos I craved more and more hours where I felt my body strengthening and my mind so focused on the precision required to do Pilates that it could not even breathe a second of anxiety. In that hour I was free of the fear, the hurt, the worry, the pain of seeing all that one does when watching their beloved in pain. I began to feel strong, physically and mentally. Pilates was saving me. This physical and mental focus required for Pilates was arming me for the nightly battles of hospital stays and just overall heartache that accompanies cancer.

It was about this time that I met Brigitte. We instantly had a connection. I have always been able to read people, and from the moment I met Brigitte I knew that we would be dear friends. Brigitte I learned is patient, loyal, and takes her time in her decision-making; she is cautious with who she lets in. She stands in her truth like no person I have met. She was the first person to question my motives, and it made me look within. Soon I began to take yoga. It was humbling at first, for flexibility was a weakness that I had been working on in my Pilates practice. The mental freedom of thoughts at first were overwhelming, and I could hear the critic within judging me like it so often does when I could not do something as directed. I am not sure if in the beginning I realized the internal shifts that were happening to me while I was taking yoga at that time in my life.

I honestly was a Pilates teacher trying to figure out Jivamukti yoga. It wasn't long after Carl went into remission, and on the outside my life appeared to be together and thriving. I was busy as could be as a Pilates instructor, my husband quite literally had a miraculous recovery from one of the largest surgical procedures out there. We were together, he was healed, and I was overwhelmed with deep gratitude. The part about cancer that often is not spoken about is the fear. As the caregiver, you often are working in overdrive to keep it all together.

When our life went in this healing direction and began to return to the new normal, I emotionally came unglued. I was internally falling apart. Pilates kept me physically strong, and would keep my anxiety at bay for the hour of practice, but that fear was consuming me. I began to take yoga daily- Swan River Mandir became my hideaway- it allowed me to crack open and spill out my emotional wreckage, leaving every class sobbing. The Catholic in me found that savasana became the place of my deepest conversations with God. Little by little I began to feel a sense of relief. I was able to see the patterns of my mind and how I could choose to not engage in fear based thoughts of “what if.” My future was unknown, as are all of ours.

However, the light shone for me that fear could neither rob me of my time with my husband, nor of the opportunity to honor the life that I have and make it the very best with the talents God has given me. I began to see the same patterns in my clients’ lives. This emotional journey is one we all walk. My story is everyone's story. Replace cancer with any insecurity, loss, heartache, fear, or pain and the world begins to find the common thread of just how hard emotional existence can be in this world. Again and again I return to Pilates to calm my anxiety, clear my mind, focus on the beauty of movement, and most importantly to take care of my body. Yoga is the place I go to shed my emotions. I come face-to-face with myself on the yoga mat. It is through Brigitte’s guidance via yoga that I was able to set intentions for the life I wanted to live, for the person I wanted to be. The ability to feel the fragility of life is the gift of cancer. I decided after my husband was recently re-diagnosed with cancer that I wanted to provide a place where others could come to recharge, strengthen, and heal.

Brigitte and I have worked many hours in planning how we can accomplish Grace. This to us is more than your sweat session: it is more than toned abs (although trust me you will get those too), it is a refuge where movement has a purpose. That purpose is a revolution of self. Go back to your breath, your heartbeat. Gratitude for life, and the body that we are blessed to reside in. We consider it an honor that you trust us to strengthen you body, mind, and spirit. We will do so through the time-tested methods of classical Pilates and yoga. Join us, awaken, and move through this life with renewed purpose.

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