Mind & Motion

Spring Newsletter

Posted in Health, Inspiration, My Practice by Meghan Pickrell on May 2, 2016
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Here I am cutting the rug at my wedding

It’s May! I can’t believe summer is around the corner. Of course in LA that means a shift of about 20 degrees. Regardless, time is passing, as it should.

The year so far has been good to us. The studio has been steady: classes full, new clients coming in, people feeling better. It’s wonderful to watch self-discovery through movement and observation. You notice the pattern, you understand, you change, you feel better! You get stronger and feel accomplished. You are empowered. This is what we teach. It’s a blessing to experience this progression.

I have been working on my own movement practice as well. I’m resuming ballet classes, moving on the pilates apparatus and even went out swing dancing (an old hobby of mine) a weeks back. Years ago I went out social dancing weekly (several times a week, in fact). I was hooked. I traveled, met new people and was part of a lindy-hop community. It consumed a huge part of my life. It was tons of fun. Of course, I still love dancing and love the idea that I can cut the rug anytime, anywhere with any stranger who has the same dancing skills as I . The magical thing about social dance is that for a small moment in time (usually about the length of a 3 minute jam) you connect with this other person in a completely non-verbal way. The link is the music and how you are both hearing and translating the music. You are totally engaged in the cues you are receiving from one another. It’s conversation through movement. Sometimes it’s utterly thrilling and other times super intimate. After the song is up you say thank you and that’s it. You may not even know each other’s name. It’s wonderful. Everyone should experience it.

Whether your hobby is swing dance, rock-climbing, golf, running marathons, a regular pilates practice can keep you in the game. It keeps you able to do all the things you love in life. So, hopefully this summer brings a bit of adventure. Get outside, experience the world, try a new hobby! Come back to class, restore and then get back out there. I will see you in class. Happy spring! Meghan 😉

 

Body After Baby

Posted in Health, Inspiration, Pilates by Meghan Pickrell on September 2, 2014

Standing where she was born

Standing where she was born

Suckling babe

Suckling babe

Henri at 2 months

Henri at 2 months

A baby comes into your life and changes you: you’re exhausted, enchanted, filled with love and bewilderment. You’re suddenly mesmerized by this little creature who was born after 10 months of growing inside you (if your male and reading this, disregard). Your body becomes like a shell that has been shed after its purpose was served. So not only are there emotional changes there are definite physical ones. Uh huh.

Women come to me postpartum and want their body “back.” This is somewhat possible. I understand feeling robbed of your youthful figure which was taken hostage by your little bean. Maybe your clothes still don’t fit, you don’t feel like “you” anymore. Getting into a regular movement practice even a few times a week can help you reclaim your physique. There are even classes for moms where you can bring your baby with you: mommy and baby yoga, stroller strides etc. Taking time to feel your muscles stretching and becoming active can help you find your rhythm once again. If possible, you may want to actually take time away from your babe in order have a moment to breathe and connect to yourself (hint, come to pilates class!).

There is also something to appreciate in our changed body. I’ve seen a few articles recently with images of women postpartum: soft bellies, hips, sagging boobs. Amazing. There is something in our shell-like body that is also a reminder of what we have accomplished: creating life! WTF?! When I was dancing if you developed varicose veins in your legs it was pretty awesome because it represented hard work and intensity. It wasn’t a flaw, it was an accomplishment. There is something to be appreciated and honored in the postpartum body. Why would we want our bodies to get “back” when we have come so far forward?

Move your body, exercise, get those muscles going to help you lift those heavy babies. Find time to do something active that you love. Your body will feel normal again. But also remember your bod may be a bit changed. Let’s find the beauty (and peace) in that. xo, M

 

I’m a Mom

Posted in Inspiration, Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on June 4, 2014

Pregnant at the pool

Here I am pregnant in Palm Springs

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At 10 months!

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In bed together on the day she was born

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Ahhh… love her

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In all her chub

So, I have a baby. Henrietta J Ulloa was born March 8th, 2014 at 3:55am after a 29 hours… well, 10 months and 29 hours. She’s a handful and a lover. She’s taking all of my time. Even now I’m debating between showering and finishing this post because I know I only have a short window until my little one wakes. It’s interesting but I actually love that she’s taking all of my time. I get to just “sit” with her and enjoy the moment. Babies really get you to stop and tune into the present moment. It’s sort of liberating… like yoga.

It’s been an interesting year. Being pregnant, creating a life and nourishing that little life has been a journey. All I can say is that my body is pretty amazing. The fact that it can do all that. The fact that I did all that…. makes me honored and thrilled to be a woman.

Her birth was, well… long. And exhausting. It was more of an athletic feat than a spiritual awakening. Also, more like a marathon than a sprint.  It started on Thursday at 9pm and ended on Saturday at 3:55am. Two days without sleep, little food (mostly because of the nausea), and tons of pain. The pain I could endure… sort of, but the fatigue was really hard. It was like participating in the biggest athletic competition of my life without proper rest and nourishment. When I began to push at 27 hours in my whole body was engaged in a way that I’ve never really felt (at least to that extent). It was like every cell in my body had a mission: to get that baby out! Did I mention that she was born at home?… In the hallway, on a birthing stool to be exact. When that little (big) baby popped out all I could think was – damn, women are amazing. I don’t think it would have been easier to have been in the hospital with medication (well, maybe) or to have had a c-seciton.  Here is what I am left with: any way that a life is brought into the world, whether with the help of pain relievers, cesearan, or without intervention is incredible and harrowing. It’s looking life in the face, straight on. It brings an appreciation for life that I haven’t felt before.  My body did that. My body brought me Henri.

I’ve been back that studio moving around again, sleeping when able, and taking my vitamins. I’m still 10 lbs heavier than pre-Henri. My belly is round, my breast engorged and my hair is well, falling out. However, I’m OK with all of it. My body has given me so much. I am proud of its enduring strength and ability. It’s incredible.

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The Equestrian – Women’s Interview Series

Posted in Inspiration by Meghan Pickrell on September 15, 2013

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(Judie and Bolero)

I’d like to introduce a new interview series to Mind & Motion this week. In this series I will interview women from all walks of life about their movement practice and how it has effected them.  I find how women connect with their body through movement, exercise and somatic practices very inspiring. I’m very excited!

I couldn’t imagine a better way to begin this series than starting with my mother. My mother, Judie, has had a major influence over my history as a mover and seeker of all things kinesthetic. She provoked my interest in exercise by taking me along with her to Jane Fonda’s aerobics studio at the young age of five. I was told to sit quietly in the back, set up with my coloring books. However, I couldn’t stop myself from getting up and trying the steps. That lead to dance classes, intensive ballet and well, you know the rest…

Since then my mom has become an equestrian and a lover of danger! Ha! Please continue to read about her exciting journey into all things horses at the ripened age of 58.

M & M: What do you do for exercise? 

Being retired I now have more time for exercise. I ride my horse 4-5 days a week and take a Pilates session one day a week. I was also taking a tennis lesson, but I have had some problems with my knee, so that is on hold for the moment.

Have you always considered yourself a “fit” person?

I guess in a way I have but not consciously. I certainly exercise more now than when I was young. I was probably in my late 30s to early 40s before I realized how important it was to my well being.

What does being fit mean to you?

Being fit means having your body perform at its best. That can vary from person to person. It also means testing your physical strength to see if it is at its upmost.

At what age did you become an equestrian?

I was 58 before I ever took a riding class. I am now 72. If I had started younger I would be a far better rider than I am, but considering half of my high school class is not walking around any more, I am proud of where I am.

Was it daunting to start riding horses at such a late age?

It was terribly daunting to start such a tough and dangerous sport so late. As a child I was always afraid of not doing well or getting hurt doing something. At age 7 I had an opportunity to take an elephant ride. I waited in line with my parents and when I was ready to go up the ladder to get on, I said I can’t and didn’t do it. I have always regretted that. I think it has taken courage to do this now.

How did the other women (and girls) at the barn perceive you then, what about now?

I don’t think anybody paid any attention to me when I started and it took a couple of years before I had time to devote much attention to riding. The important thing is I haven’t stopped. Have I had falls? Absolutely! Is it risky? You bet….but I feel so good about myself when I do well. That feeling carries over into other parts of my life. It is so nice to communicate with girls and women of all ages and we all relate to one another through horses. They don’t think of me as “this old lady”.

What is so gratifying about your sport?

I think the fact that you are always slowly improving. Working with a horse is so different than other forms of exercise because you are dealing with a large animal who can have a mind of his own! You constantly have to be aware of him, your surroundings, the weather, everything. This keeps all your senses working and your balance and muscles ready for anything. I had a very gratifying moment today when I was able to canter Bolero (who is very fast & big) without stirrups. The only thing holding you on are your legs. I achieved something today.

Has horse riding changed your self image, if so, how?

I have learned I can start a whole new area of my life and develop parts of myself yet unexplored. I think it has helped me be more positive about achieving things that seem very difficult. I am proud of what I am doing and only compete with myself. I am also my worst critic.

How did you stay in shape prior to horse back?

I was a dancer (not particularly good, but I enjoyed it). Then I did aerobics for many years especially during the Jane Fonda period. Even when I was working so much and traveling, I would try and find a place to take an aerobics class. I love the feeling of tired muscles. I sleep better when I am physically tired.

How has keeping a weekly movement practice (with any form of exercise) effected your life? has it effected it for the better?

Routine is important for me. I am not one who can exercise on her own. I need other people in a class, the right atmosphere and mind set and total focus on what I am doing. This has made me disciplined in other parts of my life and I think that is good. I hope I will be doing some form of structured exercise until my dying day. My goal is so get better at riding and have as much fun out of life that I can!!!

Thanks Mom!!!! I loved hearing about your movement practice! xo

Dealing with Back Pain: Part 3 – THE END

Posted in Health, Inspiration by Meghan Pickrell on June 5, 2013

Arabesque

After many months and after approaching my back from many different angles, I am finally pretty much pain free. YAY! My back pain has ebbed and flowed throughout my life but I never had such a bad bout of it as the last few years. Moving past a chronic condition is quite challenging so I feel some sense of pride with my accomplishments. Looking back here is what I learned from it all.

There was a moment when I thought that I could hand off my imbalances, aches and pains to another person to be fixed. I know this really isn’t true but I’d seen so many people who were “fixed” by chiropractic, or acupuncture or whatever the new body-work sensation might be. After seeing a few of these “specialists” myself I remembered that I cannot put my quest for health in the hands of anyone else. Actually, my husband reminded me (That’s why I keep him around). I did get support from several people who guided me toward stability but ultimately I was the one who figured out what I needed to kick out the pain.

The quest for healing was about me and finding out what works for me alone. What I figured out is that I’m best off with a regular movement practice- go figure! So, I joined a gym. Every other day I head over to do my 30 minutes of cycling, hand weights and mat work. I’m still working out at Mind & Motion but I find that actually going somewhere else (away from my workplace) is a breath of fresh air. A consistent exercise practice has given my body rapid and significant change. I’m up on my feet doing everyday activities without hesitation. I’m moving around easily at the pilates studio and am feeling strong! The gym and specifically the stationary bike has kicked in that lower feedback loop and gotten me out of my head (thank god!).

I also had to change my mindset (when there’s a motion, there is also a mind). I really had to face myself.. and face my fears. My back pain was so tied up with my anxiety. I’m not sure what came first (the chicken or the egg). Did I have anxiety about my back pain (was it going to go out, how would it go… where would it go?) or did my anxiety cause my back pain? Whatever is was (or is) treating my anxiety helped my back relax. Regular therapy and Deepok Chopra’s “The Soul of Healing” (you can download it from iTunes) helped me relax and let go of certain outcomes. It helped me to stop obsessing (something I’m telling clients all the time, of course) and helped me to realize that I’m safe.

Investigating the issues of dis-ease and healing with medical and alternative practitioners is key. But then take it in, see what makes sense to you. Become a part of the process. Approach your health from all angles. It may take a combination of therapies or a change of mindset. It may take a nutritional shift or meditative practice. Trust your doctor but also trust your insights and intuition. You will be the answer.

 

I’ve Stayed Away Too Long…

Posted in Inspiration, Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on May 5, 2013
Los Balcones Del Rioja in Basque Country

Los Balcones Del Rioja in Basque Country

La Sacragada Familia- the modern day vision of heaven

La Sacragada Familia- the modern day vision of heaven

Seabass at Mugaritz

Seabass at Mugaritz

Carlos and I in San Sebastian

Carlos and I in San Sebastian

I’ve stayed away too long… I know, it’s tragic. After my wedding in September and subsequent health issues my focus was pulled between my health and my new husband. That coupled with an insanely busy pilates studio this year, has occupied me to no end. But do not fear, I hope to begin posting on a regular basis once again. Yippee!

SO, what’s new people? As I wrote about last October, Carlos and I postponed our Spanish honeymoon last year from which we have just returned. It was amazing- Spanish tapas, historic art, and the Basque countryside all laid the perfect groundwork for a romantic honeymoon. The highlight was reading our vows overlooking San Sebastian. I feel so…blessed.

The vacation also helped bring us to a place of deep relaxation. A feeling that is rarely experienced in day-to-day life unfortunately. That being said, our promise to one another is to stay SANE now that we are back in Los Angeles- to keep stress at bay and laugh at the trivial stress impostors (if I may) that seem magnanimous when piled atop one another. It’s all about perspective, right? The scrapbook fillings and photos are scattered over our dining table, the bed is unmade (something that would normally drive me a little nutso) and I am OK with it. I take a breath, relax my body and find the same soothing relaxation while writing this blog. Please enjoy some of the photos above!

Cat-like Reflexes!

Posted in Health, Inspiration, Pilates by Meghan Pickrell on February 10, 2012

Here I am at the studio balancing my weight on my hands. This is one of the postures I've been practicing in yoga.

I’m often times learning something just at the appropriate time to introduce it to my clients. When first starting to teach I already had a decade plus of movement experience to draw from in order to help impart wisdom to my clients. As an apprentice, I was stilling learning pilates and how cue the body in a specific way.

Now, as a seasoned teacher, I find that as I continue to learn within my own body, I continue to find new ways of imparting information when teaching. I started taking regular vinyasa yoga classes at Liberation Yoga up the street from my house. It’s a very charming yoga studio and it’s a great escape for me to go and practice there. No one knows that I’m a teacher. I am an anonymous student and it feels liberating. A new yoga practice has give me the ability to try new movements, new relationships to gravity (yay- inversions!) and a newly acquired sense of agility.

Part of what is great about pilates, yoga, dance, martial arts (I could go on…) is that we begin moving our body in ways not thought as possible. My upper body is finally getting strong from all of those forearm stands and chatarungas. The strengthening was much needed. But also came the idea that I can move in such a variety of different ways with confidence. My body is learning, and so is my mind.

Take this lesson to heart. The more you practice a variety of exercises and movements the more enriched your body (and mind) will be. A regular and varied movement practice establishes a comprehensive movement vocabulary allowing for agility and cat-like reflexes!

Delete Deplete

Posted in Health, Inspiration by Meghan Pickrell on February 22, 2011

On a hike in Colorado

In a society where we are all after the American dream- successful career, family, home, financial stability, there is little time left for one other important necessity…YOU! A 40+ hour work week, husband, kids, and social life leaves little time for us to spend time on us. It is strange that all of the time dedicated to living a fulfilling life can leave you a bit… depleted. And even when we are exhausted we are expected to get up and go work. With such full lives it’s imperative that we figure out ways to receive nourishment. That way we can meet the energy demands of our day.

I try to incorporate a bit of “me” time everyday. This could be as simple as taking a soak in a warm bath at the end of the day, or a 5-minute meditation at the beginning of the day. Adding a few minutes of restoration to your day can help shift your mood, energy and improve a foggy brain. I encourage my clients to get up during the day and walk around. Maybe take a walk around the office and check in with how you are feeling. A few minutes of purposeful breath (6 seconds in and 6 seconds out) is also helpful. Think of ways in which you feel supported and try to add at least one of those ways to your day. See what happens!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted in Inspiration by Meghan Pickrell on February 14, 2011

Image courtesy of "Style Me Pretty"

Just remember, when you busy planning a little something for your honey, to also give yourself a little extra love today. Enjoy it!

Resolutions for the New Year

Posted in Inspiration by Meghan Pickrell on January 7, 2011

First of all, I hope you had a very happy new year’s eve. I celebrated by cooking dinner with my honey: roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed greens and champagne! We nearly missed the countdown to 2011 because of our post-meal mellowness. It was a great way to bring in the new year.

The new year brings about a time for reflection and re-direction. We can take the new year as a time to think about what we have done and where we want to go. In 2010 I designed a new logo, re-arranged my blog, found a thesis topic, finished all of classes for my masters, and moved into a larger apartment. In 2011 I plan to graduate with my masters (almost!), continue with my trager certification, and really amp of my business. I will continue to help my clients reach new levels of fitness and awareness in their body, for this is my dedication as a practitioner. I’m also thinking of new ways to market my services – to actors, artists and creatives.

The new year may help bring to focus your goals. This can be overwhelming at times. When starting a new exercise regime, or a weight-loss program, begin with one step at a time. Especially if something like exercise is new to you. The best advice I can give is to try many different avenues. If you hate running – then try something else. There are loads of ways to get your heart rate elevated, burn calories, and increase strength. The perfect workout is out there… waiting for you to tackle it. Whatever your goals for 2011 I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors… and please feel free to share with me!