Aligning the Body & Mind

I ended last year (and started this one) with a lot of aches and pains. Some of that seems to be from Long COVID (whatever the hell that is), which in my case prompts extreme inflammation if I even get a sniffle.

So for the first year ever in a really long time, I didn’t want to kick things off with “I want to lose x pounds by y date.” Now that I’m A Woman of a Certain Age, I’ve started thinking about longevity and mobility, particularly given my challenges with autoimmune and arthritis. 

Last year was devoted to discovering the forms of exercise that make me feel joyful, ensuring I’ll practice them regularly. Walking along the North Sea in Scotland almost every day of the summer didn’t suck. Keeping that one.

I’ve promised myself to never do another HIIT-style, beat-the-hell-out-of-my-body workout again, because it doesn’t support my philosophy or personal infrastructure. 

My body responds better to peaceful things like nature walks, and yoga, and the magnificent form of exercise bliss known as Pilates, so I’m developing practices that counterbalance my workaholic tendencies and absurdly tight myofascial structure. I’ve become devoted to the quality of my longevity, to ensure that if I make it to 80, it will be a young 80. My mother was a young 85, as was her mother before her, so I’ve got a good shot.

And as if the universe took her magic wand and approved my path, I found a Pilates instructor who is a perfect fit for me. Cara Kjellman is a former Broadway dancer, and understands the whole world of body alignment, aches and pains. Her eagle eye can spot the smallest movements that point to misalignment, then she guides you to adjust them. She has been my saving grace as I try to build for the future, which I hope will include dancing into my very old age.

Each session with Cara focuses on the tiniest details (I call them tiny, deadly movements) that show me how certain movements pull me out of alignment, create aches, and ensure a future of chronic pain. I’m learning how to feel that one teeny tiny muscle that, when fired, changes everything. It takes extreme focus, but I’m savoring the pursuit of mastery. I don’t have space to think of anything else for that hour of challenging bliss, so I can leave the world outside. I often compare it to doing ballet while lying down. 

This path toward mastery has had a domino effect on other areas of my life, too. Since I can’t move well if I’m inflamed, It’s become easy to not eat the foods that cause swelling — and lord have mercy, at this point in my life that’s everything except salad, meat, and fish. So the theme of 2023 is Rainbow Salads All the Live-Long Day. (I’m not complaining — throw some gooseberries in your next salad and you’ll thank me afterward. They taste like the love child of a pomegranate and a tart cherry tomato. You’re welcome.)

So how can you craft your own path toward inner and outer alignment? We’re examining this from multiple angles all month, but in the larger context of the life you have, it’s important to make sure you are aligned (remember what I said about alignment being where you come from?). This will affect how you show up for your company, your team, and your dream. I know from intensely personal experience how easy it is to get lost in the work, and I’ve been doing that for months — but I have practices in place to pull me out of it. 

Three things to think about:

  1. Find the movement that brings you joy.
  2. Commit to it as an absolute, non-moveable piece of the calendar.
  3. Create a pursuit of mastery rather than a timeline of superficial results.

The world has enough turmoil, and many of us are trying to solve that with our ideas and companies, so let’s get ourselves in order to catalyze the global change we’re trying to achieve.

A note on Pilates studios: 

I specifically looked for a Pilates Reformer studio because I love the machines, so if you happen to be in uptown Manhattan, Hudson Pilates is pretty perfect. I tend to avoid most NYC exercise studios because they have a weird, superficial vibe, but after looking at their website and walking into Hudson, I saw bodies of all shapes and sizes, and the instructors are top-notch. It’s a pleasure to go there, even at 6 in the morning — which I do for absolutely nothing else in this universe.

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Self-Care Sunday is devoted to you, with advice, insights, and tools to create true self-care, which goes beyond a home spa day. Not that there’s anything wrong with a home spa day. We’re in the bubble bath typing this right now.

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