Discussion #2718

Honor Your Body

15 min - Discussion


In this discussion with Madeline Black, she discusses the changes that have happened in her life and how they have impacted her Pilates practice. She tells us how she needed to find new ways of doing things that fed her rather than things that zapped her energy. She also demonstrates the breathing exercises she has incorporated into her daily routine, which allow her to be more in-tune with her body's needs.
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Aug 20, 2016
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Hi Madeline. Hi Amy. How are you? Doing well, thank you. I think you might've just had a birthday recently. So happy birthday and I see something pretty markedly different and it looks beautiful. It's a nice change. And what might have inspired your hair change? I'll start with that question. Heres external. Um, well over the last couple of years or more, I've been getting a little more internal with myself because of a life of hard work and my dedication to my work and hard on my body and working.

And then as you get older, life gets more complex and you're having to juggle more balls and there's a lot more stress. And I was getting pretty stressed out, so my health started to change and I started finding, um, little immune issues and all of a sudden little things started changing in my body that I was not ready to say, Oh, I'm just falling apart. Right? So I had to work with finding different ways of doing things that feed me versus negates anything or Zaps my energy or you know, takes that away from me. I needed to kind of pull in. And really assess what is important to me and listened to my body and what I needed to do. So, and the hair, it became convenient. [inaudible] hair was just, you know, it was just convenient. Now that I don't have to deal with the roots of color roots in and then it's a totally different look, which is actually very freeing. Um, because I can, I'm been a transition, which I didn't realize I was in a transition, but I had to transition. And I think in our industry and our fields, when you've had a studio for 30 years and your whole life's been around this work and being so physical, uh, that it takes a toll that I think teachers are just starting.

When you start getting into your 15 years of teaching and so on, you start to feel that and all of a sudden your body goes, Whoa, wait a second here. I can't do this anymore. Or I don't want to do this anymore. That's, I can't, I just need to do it differently. What we're, if I can, if I can ask, what were a few signs, like physical signs that were talking to you or you were receiving and feeling that you were paying attention to? Are they allowed where they were? They were pretty loud, pretty loud, pretty physical. I mean, uh, you know, my sacrum used to be super mobile and then it got very, uh, kind of more rigid. So I didn't feel I started losing kind of that fluidity that I used to have. And then my neck also, I'm just realizing like our work and those low roof, how many years I, if we talk about cell phones with people, what have we been doing? We're looking down all the time.

So I started actually really even noticing a degenerative changes in my neck. So, uh, you know, that was like this, I gotta start really working on that. And then the other is, um, you know, having some immune problems. So getting ill wants to, you know, periodically. And I started getting these like diaphragm, uh, spasms as strange thing. So I felt like, oh, guess what? I'm not breathing, you know? So there's that. And then little things like all of a sudden it's like, why is that hip all of a sudden like it seemed like instantly to me. There's, you know, you're ignoring it and you don't know that it's there and you're just painting, kind of just moving through.

And then one day that little straw breaks that camel's back or something and then you go, oh, why is that happening to me? So I had to look at everything, what I was eating, what my routine was in terms of my practice, which I had totally changed, which you'll see in my part one and part two that I recently just filmed. So, um, and I change it all the time. It's not always the same. So I'm always listening and some days I'm just kind of resting and doing more of like what I did in part one or some days I feel like I have the, the capacity to be more physical because I love being physical. But some days I just need to kind of chill and breathe and, and I really felt a breathing practice was now really important to me, which I think might be why that flute is core. Uh, let's, um, can we hear you play right? So here's a wedding. We really, I mean all about breathing. It's breath. Okay.

That's all well and our number one principle or grounding principle number one, the breath is the thing. Um, and I, I don't think I'm alone with you. What your thing or with myself is, um, I don't know. Are we really taking those deep breaths? Are we really getting in there and do our PyLadies routines? We're breathing cause we, the rhythm, we do things.

But then how about the whole rest of the day? That's what I need. Yeah. I know. We are living in our work. It wasn't breathing. And so I'd been playing with balloons blowing into, some people have taken some of my breathing workshops. So I've been doing things with balloons, feeling like I really needed to, to facilitate that. And then a friend of mine introduced me to this native American flute, which you don't have to know how to play the flute to play it.

You just have to breathe. So I'm to all the musicians out there, forgive me, but it's about breathing. So, um, it's a wonderful tool. So you can do it with me. Okay. All right. And what I'll do is I'm going to do one long exhale. We'll make it too long, like to my Max, but I'll do inhale and then exhale belonged with each tone. And then, um, I'll take a new breath and you'll just breathe with me. Yeah. Right. Alright. So, and the sound, I'm finding that sound has really helped my balance too.

So that's an interesting thing. So when using sound, when I'm trying to stand on one leg, it really grounds me. So I liked the idea of, for some reason the auditory, which I don't get macho has really helped me too. So, yeah. Okay. All right. So here we go. Okay. You're gonna breathe in. Yeah, a am [inaudible]. See I can't play that last small. It's hard to do. Okay.

If you could feel my hands, would I feel that I can tell with the tone. I don't know if you could feel like, cause you were, but you're not breathing out like I am. Cause I'm not reading into that. I feel my diaphragm reed domain. Okay. I was feeling something. I think I always feel like I cut you off. Sorry. The vibration actually from the sound. Yeah.

This here and the vibration is amazing. I feel it. It's actually in my head. Yeah, they're there. But with that long exhale on the note, uh, I do experience a re doming of the diaphragm and I feel like we all focus so much on breathing in our posterior lateral ribs and expanding the diaphragm, but there's no re doning that's happening. So I find that, I think we're all flattening our time frames and that we're not getting that kind of an a back to that. So I've been finding that just sitting and it's meditative too. So then it's, and I feel less stressed, you know, so it's my little morning routine ritual. So do you find in, maybe you can speak a little bit more to how you're, and I know the classes that you're, you're showing us, um, how your personal practice has changed, how you've had to adapt to the desire to change. Um, has there been any kind of internal dialogue that you've had to work with that you know, oh, this isn't, maybe Pilati is like, I first learned it or you know, but w my, you know, are, aren't we supposed to move with efficiency and ease and grace and power and all those things. But, um, you know, it's always been my way of working with clients, right? Is to do corrective movement, you know, being a movement specialist.

So what I like to call myself or, and uh, and then the point is like, you kind of forget the human movement parts. So that the point is, is not to like, I know people want flat stomachs and they want, you know, buffed arms and all that stuff. I mean, that's the external stuff, but how do you walk, what is your human movement potential? How are you sitting in a chair? How you're getting up, you're able to sit down on the floor and stand up. Right? People are always like kind of looking at that. But these are like normal. How is your running? If you're a runner, like what's the human movement? So your workout should actually facilitate better human movement and not take away from it.

And I find that that's right now with little issues that have come up for myself, I realize I start losing like that gay patterning in the rotation and I [inaudible] my back's not moving the way it should and it's affecting how I'm sitting, how I'm, you know, walking and hiking. And so that takes away from pleasurable things that I, and that feeds me. So it's back to the feeding of me. So my work has had to change where I'm actually doing more. Like I'm loving gravity now. I'm like, Oh, before, you know, and, and you know, letting my spine, I'm really trying to actually let my spine let go so it can move.

So it's kind of more of a consciousness or something. I mean, what's really happening in a physiological muscular way? You know, I think what it is is I'm letting go of the holding, so I have the fluidity and then the local muscles kick in and then I can do bigger movement. But I had to like peel off and go, okay spine, how can we hold spine, move and like be an ease and still do great movement. Right? So I'm kind of working my, so I've had to cut back and I'm like working my way back into like doing backbends for instance. I stopped doing them about two years ago. Uh, I and too much pain from them. I sacrum and my, there were parts of my spine that wasn't in sync with it and my shoulders tight. So I kind of backed off that and I've been strengthening more and the bridge, try and let my spine ease and let go and I'm building. I see myself working towards going back into that when I have more openness, um, to be able to do that. I believe that not cause I'm getting old and I can't do them anymore.

It's that I'm going to find what I need to do now to kind of open up to make that a reality again for me. And I know it will cause I feel strong. It's just that I don't want to, I want to feel good. I don't want to have back issues and have some pain and all of that. Well, the, the, yeah, having spontaneous zest and vigor, one of those, you know, the big quotes that Mr [inaudible] said of this work should support us for a real life or everyday living and having spontaneous disaster and bigger not, I have to think about being successful in bigger [inaudible] have the, at the ready and for me, for what was happening with my spine as I noticed those changes, uh, flection wasn't that great for me. I had more trouble. So I had no c'est in spontaneity with that much flection. So I actually have been spending more time, uh, as you'll see like on the floor and strengthening my legs. I also feel that, um, I really have to keep the strength in my legs to support my back.

Yeah. I, what's making me think about something we were speaking about earlier was some of the totems here that we see and the meanings behind them, which you can or you know, whatever you want to do with that comment. But um, and we were starting a conversation about grounding but also having levity and that we can have both. And that's that. And you know, I won't go into fascial conversation because that's more your area of expertise than mine. I'm interested certainly in it, but the, the, and the rebounding and the recoiling and that's very quickly kind of in our world right now, a lot of people are feeling interested in it and I think they're interested cerebrally in it, the concept of it. But then when they get moving like on a trampoline or water can do it or what you were doing, that movement right there sparked some kind of, let me, can I even say the word fun that Hey, having fun, like you know, to have that with our movement instead of taking this so seriously and, and holding and getting in those patterns of, of that and carrying our piles with us in that this plot is all day. Correct. The no flow and, and uh, it was, it is a 10 secretary model, but I don't believe it's just fascia alone. I don't need that, you know, but I mean there's an energetic around it. There's that sense of grounding and then that consciousness of what's above, right? So you have your higher self and the, so here with the sense of grounding. So the energy is moving through you just like the 10 secretary.

It's moving through your body. You want, that's what tunes equity is about. It's moving through, right? It doesn't get stuck in lodge somewhere and you hold, it's got that suspension to it. But that is with feeling that sense of ground with Levity, you know? And that's a polar, and to me, the spine, when the whole spine has that, it's going down and it's going up. You've found your fashion connection there.

So it can be a lot simpler than I think when you start reading this science. I know it's, it's fun for me to, but that time it's quite difficult to, so, but it can be lighter. Well, like an image that just came out of just like seeing a little person, a little toddler, how much fun they're having kind of this walking in there. They're balancing a whole time there. Yeah, yeah. The bone. Yeah, that's true. What do you know? The energy that they have, you know? And not that I'm going to do that kind of style, although I do sometimes walking around, but that kind of ease or just buoyancy.

Okay, well that's why people love to dance. And you know, these other kinds of this where we have to mix it up, do all kinds of movement, you know? But then keep a focus on your structure and your function for your human movement. That's something I'm always looking at, you know, how's my hips way? How's that doing? How's my hip joints moving? Oh, what's that sacred I'm doing? Oh, what's my neck and how about the upper ribs? I go through that cause I want all those pieces to, to keep on moving as a, as a unit. So then I could have fun. Yup. So, um, I would just like to say thanks for opening the thought to allow change in to what we have. A very forms can be somewhat of a formulaic system.

Um, any final closing thoughts on change, Shane? Let's keep breathing and honor your body and listen to it. You don't have to do everything really hard and fast. Sometimes slow is good and sometimes rest is more important. Say that again. Rest is nowhere important. I wanted, yeah, I [inaudible] yeah.

And what was really hard for them, for me to rest still is, but that might be part two of this conversation. Okay. Thank you. Thanks.

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5 people like this.
Beautiful discussion. Very inspiring and motivating to stop for a moment and rest...
6 people like this.
Very cool. It is so great when our master teachers let us in on their personal journeys. Really helpful to hear about how to care for yourself while sustaining a long career of teaching and giving. "Rest" is the new Black. :)
9 people like this.
Madeline.....thank you so much for taking the time to sit with me/us, sharing your wisdom and insight into this very important topic. Resting more often is vital to our whole body health, whole body commitment and breath. I can't speak for everyone, but this discussion was deeply meaningful. Much gratitude....
2 people like this.
Thank you for sharing Madeline. I could not agree with you more. Honoring and listening to your body is something more people (including myself) need to do; especially as we age. Finding a balance is key. Hearing this from a woman I greatly respect and admire in the Pilates community is so special. Thank you!
2 people like this.
Thank you so much for sharing your transforming practice, how true. As a teacher for 16 years, ( wife and mother) I find that softer internal work , gives me more mental and physical focus or internal space. And, I liked the flute , it is always fun to try something new! You are an inspiration, your ability to teach complex ideas of movement is a gift.
1 person likes this.
Just awesome! As a person with rheumatoid arthritis,I grapple with this a lot and I appreciate your discussion of it. I want to push myself, but some days my body will have none of it and a gentle mat workout for 20 mins is all I can manage. I struggle with feeling guilty if it's all I can do. But even with rest breaks, I see such tremendous progress in my health and fitness level since Pilates and yoga have become regular parts of my life. Thank you for all that you both do to help us. It is very much appreciated.
Thank you all for the beautiful comments. I was hesitant to film this because I was not sure how it would be received, and most of all, I felt vulnerable and again questioned whether it would serve a purpose outside of myself. So thank you! Keep on evolving!
1 person likes this.
Madeline, I feel blessed by witnessing your openess! You are a teacher I am looking up to a lot and many others do too. With telling us about your vulnerable self and the path you are on - you encourage us to look for our own way, listen to our own voice inside our body. Giving into gravity is definitely a way to more ease in the body but in our mind at the same time. And what a beautiful picture that the energy is moving through us!
- our body between earth and spirit! Thank you for letting us share!
And I love your hair!
Thank you , thank you , thank you for sharing your voice, your spirit and your wisdom.......
1 person likes this.
Thank you
you inspire me for my next performance with my dance students.They play the flute and always play some tunes.They are 4 to 7 year old. For the next performance they are going to
hold tones .It is beautiful and very interesting.
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