It is year 2000, and I am in a Pilates class.
The teacher offers simple, straightforward instructions.
Intellectually, I totally get what she is asking us to do; yet, she might as well be speaking Chinese – the cues make no sense to my BODY.
I am confused and frustrated – and embarrassed, too: it feels like out of the whole class I am the only one who can’t quite grasp it.
I try hard to force my body into the shape required. The harder I try, the more I hurt afterwards.
Eventually I abandon the practice.
It is now 2004. I join a yoga class to manage the ever-escalating back pain.
To my surprise, my body loves the practice.
The pain is starting to subside, and so I am getting more and more ambitious…
A strange sound – not unlike that of a zipper – deep inside my right buttock, and the searing pain that follows interrupt my emerging yoga bliss.
I repeat this once more, tearing my left hamstring in a yoga teacher training just a few months later.
Now, looking back, I chuckle.
Frustration, embarrassment, injuries…. Many, many injuries…
Why do I always pick the hardest route???
Sticking to your guns (or a yoga practice) is hard enough.
Let’s not make our yoga journey more challenging than it needs to be, shall we?!
Ideally, a yoga class walks the razor blade balance between safety and challenge, activation and relaxation.
Lean more into the safety side of things, and your progress is stifled: practice begins to stagnate, and motivation dissipates.
Wade full force into the challenge, and the potential for injury raises sky high: the tissues cannot recover efficiently as nervous system struggles to recalibrate for the increasing load.
The fabric of body awareness is what unites the two.
Body awareness allows to navigate the dynamic pull-push between safety and challenge with grace (well, more or less).
It took me the longest time to understand (and admit to myself) that while I had the flexibility to do complex poses, I lacked the internal calibration, knowledge, and body awareness to practice those poses SAFELY.
It took even longer to build an internal reference library and enough body awareness to recognize and correct movement errors as they were happening.
Curiously, now – almost 20 years later, my BODY totally gets the cues that were given to me by my first Pilates instructor. What a journey!
Needless to say, every one of these on and off the mat experiences – and especially the challenging and emotionally charged ones – have shaped the way I teach.
Satori yoga class line up is built on the ground of my own yoga journey, each classa stepping stone to more body awareness and increased load adaptation.
Whenever I see students drowning in complex alignment cue or struggling needlessly with a particular posture, I am instantly reminded of my own mat trials, frustrations, and tribulations.
That reminder often serves as a challenge: what can I do better to serve?
See you next week and on the mat?!
Hey, my name is Julia
Living with chronic pain has taught me to look for solutions in unlikely places – places where most people see only problems.
Over the years I’ve gotten to be pretty good at this problem-solving and silver-lining finding thing.
So good that I felt compelled to share what I’ve learned and help others to find their sea legs while navigating, living, and winning their battle with chronic pain.