If these times have taught us anything it is to shift and flow with our expectations. Week to week I seem to lurch rather than flow, depending on my mindset, with rumours circulating about further lock downs, bubbles bursting and a very different Christmas.
And someone then said the other day that we should really just lower our expectations as a sort of survival mechanism; to numb any further disappointment. Now, I can see how this does get us more ‘living in the moment’ (#mindfullness) and whilst it is a practical approach in some ways, it doesn’t altogether sit well with me. It feels a little defeatist….
So, I propose a shift in expectations and to find places where we can raise expectations, and yes, you may have guessed…where better than in your Pilates practise and with your movement expectations.
Often our mind’s expectations of our bodies will inhibit us from achieving our full movement potential. These expectations can be conscious or unconscious. An old injury can linger like a shadow over our movement patterns and even though a tweaked muscle in the neck may have healed, we may already have forgotten how far we could move our neck before and set a new and reduced range of movement. These lowering of expectations can also be environmental – many of you know how I blame the reduction of our ability to rotate our spines on the invention of rear parking sensors!
Stress doesn’t help either. Even something like a broken toe or a whiplash injury where we limped or moved stiffly about years ago for a few weeks will stay in our bodies. When we experience any type of stress, it can make us literally ping back to that ‘safe’ movement pattern – we reduce our expectations so as not have any further issues.
So, I ask you this: in that side bend…could you go further? Is there a smidge extra space for rotation of that spine? Could that oyster leg go a little higher without the pelvis moving? And what about a rocking or roll over? Legs over the head anyone? No? I could never do a cartwheel as a child, and therefore I expect I’ll never do one. I didn’t expect I’d ever be able to roll up lying or roll my legs over my head, but then I did. Partly because my teacher expected me to. Other people’s expectations of us can also be limiting. Often a bit too much loving-but-misdirected ‘Careful!’ as children can linger with us too.
Therefore, how about we all aim to raise our expectations in our Pilates practise and all our movement? The mind is a powerful thing and can be re-trained at any point just like our bodies. And if we can expect to move a little more in our Pilates class, and even find a smidge of extra movement… well, we can find our expectations perhaps ripple out from our mat and beyond.
We never expected this did we? And yet as humans we have remarkably, wonderfully, resourcefully adapted to it whether we like it or not. So, let’s think about what other expectations we can have. And we expect you all to have your legs over your heads by Christmas!