If you have too comfortable of a path, you are not forced to grow.
This, of course, is no novel idea. But I was struck by this concept recently because I thought about it in a different way. I reflected on it in relation to my present world of being a Pilates instructor, a yoga enthusiast, and a student and lover of movement and the body.
A core reason why I was drawn into Pilates and yoga was because they are challenging practices. Even now, years after beginning the disciplines, I am required to work my hardest every time I get on the mat.
To flow through an hour or more of an ambitious physical practice, I must draw upon mental strength and discipline. I work to keep my body linked to my mind, and to stay present with acute awareness of how my body is moving and what it feels. I work to maintain strong breath and not sink into shallowness. I work to pace myself, and draw from heartfelt motivation when I find myself tired or struggling. I work to break mental blocks and fears—Yes, I am strong enough to balance upside down on my hands; and when I do fall, I know how to catch myself.
Ultimately, all of this becomes a beautifully, challenging dance--a dance between the body, the mind, and the creative, intuitive self that knows movement as an artful expression of life.
It is in the challenge of this dance that I grow, both in a physical and mental sense. When the moment demands much of me—when I lose fluidity of movement, forget my breath, or feel weak, tight, and shaky in a pose—it is then that I enter into the depth, into the significance, of these practices. Working through the difficulty forces me to grow; and a sense of growth gives way to a sense of heart and meaning.
Cultivating strength, flexibility, and balance in my body, has also translated into cultivating these same things inside myself. The mind and body work together, and it has been my experience that working on the physical self inevitably leads one to work on the deeper self.
Thus, my journey into movement has been, and continues to be, a journey into my self. On the exterior, my body moves and my physical being is challenged. On the interior, my soul dances, and my mind travels through moments of ease and tension, joy and frustration, strength and weakness, confidence and fear. In movement, I am learning the dance of life.