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.