Exercise and My Body

by Nicole Serafin (40 yrs old), Nutritionist / Dietician

In my mid twenties, after having a lower back and shoulder injury, my physiotherapist suggested some gentle stretching and Pilates exercises to rebuild the muscles and tissues – to strengthen those areas. I began first at home with the exercises she gave me, and then looked into doing a few yoga and Pilates classes.

My body became strong and my core strength was amazing, but I had become so obsessed with strengthening myself that I had stopped feeling what all of this exercise was doing to me – I had totally lost touch with how my body was really feeling. My body had become so hard and disconnected that I was unable to feel when it was time to stop or when I was pushing it too far.

I had gotten into the frame of mind that the more I could stretch and the stronger I was, the better I must be.

In fact I was causing more issues for myself without realising. I was no longer able to feel the pain my body was in, due to the way I was exercising, and that my focus had completely changed.

Every time I went to a class the pain would be relieved, so the more classes I did, the less I had to feel it. I became addicted – the more I did, the more I wanted to do, and it became the basis of my day. In the end I was exercising at home TWICE a day and at a studio FIVE times per week!

But the pain was still there – it was just being masked.

I began attending some Universal Medicine workshops and in time, some of the courses and retreats. I began experimenting with living in a way that was more supportive of my body, feeling what I needed to eat, the way I felt and the time I felt to sleep, amongst other things. The next natural step was to look at the way in which I was exercising, as it was not correlating with how I was now living in other aspects of my life; I was still pushing my body on a daily basis to the extreme.

Yes, it was true I needed to exercise for the wellbeing of my body, but I wanted to find a way that allowed me to feel what it was my body needed, just as I was doing with these other aspects. I realised I needed to do it in a way that supported me.

So I began changing the way that I approached the exercises – much to my teacher’s dismay! She could not see the point of doing them if I was not challenging myself. Eventually, I began doing them at home in a way that I felt was more nurturing and caring for my body. To my surprise, over time, I began to feel more supple, gentle and willing. I realised I was just as flexible – if not more so, now that I was connecting to what my body said it actually needed. Along with this I also received the support of sessions with various Universal Medicine practitioners…. and found my pain level began to lower, to the point where it is now non-existent.

It has been amazing to discover that by allowing myself to feel exactly what was needed, in both the way I did the exercise as well as the sorts of exercises I felt to do, I could support myself better than ever before. I find I still have the core stability I had developed, but I also have gentleness within my body that I had never felt before. I am now able to do exercise when and how I feel to, and when I’m finished, my body feels expanded and open.

131 thoughts on “Exercise and My Body

  1. I don’t think I will ever stop being humbled by how intelligent the body is. It knows how to live in a way that is not detrimental to itself in every aspect of life bar none.

  2. “Every time I went to a class the pain would be relieved, so the more classes I did, the less I had to feel it” – oh wow. That’s where we think exercise is good for us and get addicted. Pain is one of the ways our body communicates to us, it lets us know when it is being compromised. It is actually very useful.

  3. I never liked exercise as a kid because I didn’t like pushing past what my body said it could cope with then be in pain for hours or days after. I didn’t like how people would tell me what to do and disregard the fact that my body would be saying otherwise. These days I love to exercise as I stay more with my body than ever before. Even if in a class where we have to follow the teacher I still do my own thing in line with my body and make it look roughly like I am following.

  4. I can remember the competitiveness I used to go into when doing exercises in a class situation as I didn’t want to be seen as unfit, so I would go has hard as I could. This wasn’t always the way though. I used to cry after running when I was in primary school because I didn’t like how I felt in my body doing it. But once I thought I wasn’t enough it was surprising how numbed I was to my body and didn’t get upset when it hurt from exercising. Staying with our body and exercising in a way that supports is good medicine.

  5. Very inspiring Nicole, what you have shared can be a book about how we can live in a way that supports every aspect of life and build a body that feels what is happening to it!

  6. We can so easily think that hardness is necessary in our bodies, and we often exercise to promote that hardness, yet in that hardness we are less able to feel how we are and what our body truly needs, so to find a way to move and exercise such that we are with our bodies without hardness, is very supportive and shows that we can be just as flexible without the hardness.

    1. And an inspiring reflection for others to see. When we only ever see ‘all go go go’ then we don’t have anything to compare it to to say there’s another way. I know for me, seeing someone walk in gentleness and tenderness for the first time and touch also in that way, was an eye opener for me.

  7. It makes sense doesn’t it, if we strain the muscles they become stiffer, harder etc. If we’re gentle in our movements our muscles are not under constant tension and are therefore more flexible and as a result we become more flexible. Harshness on the body leads to nothing more than harshness within the body.

  8. It is so wrong that we are told to harden up both physically and emotionally – and as you say Nicole living hard like this has a side effect that makes us numb to when we overdo anything or push ourselves too much.

  9. Unfortunately many go the rough and tough way probably because on some level it feels good but on the other hand it makes you not feel what the body is actually communicating.

  10. Our bodies really do speak to us constantly of what is truly honouring of our essence and what is needed to support us to correct and adjust our way of living and moving in order to bring greater awareness to the degree of love we live.

  11. It is amazing to feel the huge difference in the quality in which we are able to move and exercise when we stay present with ourselves and allow our body to communicate how it wants to move, rather than pushing ourselves from our mind well beyond our natural limit. In honouring our true feelings we support and nurture the whole of our being.

  12. To exercise so our bodies feel expanded and open, that is something we can get when we listen to and move in line with our bodies, and not when we push and strive and numb ourselves to not feel our bodies. It seems obvious yet many of us have done the later and it’s only when we’ve been introduced to the former than we can see how we’ve been.

  13. How empowering is that to be able to give our body exactly what it needs by simply feeling into it. Very different from listening to those so-called experts out there telling us what is good for us.

  14. A great awareness and impulse Nicole by feeling how your body wanted to move you were able to make such a monumental change to the way in which you now approach exercise and the huge difference and support this has made to connect you to the gentleness within your body.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s