Mind & Motion

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

IMG_1524

At 10 months!

IMG_1902

In bed together on the day she was born

IMG_1173

Ahhh… love her

IMG_1884

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.

Tagged with: , ,

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!

Dealing with Back Pain Part 2 : TMS

Posted in Health, Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on October 24, 2012

About two weeks before my wedding I picked up Dr. Sarno’s “Healing Back Pain” off my bookshelf. I had read the book about 10 years ago from the perspective as the practitioner. Now, I was reading it as a student. I had just thrown my back out and was in a word, desperate.

Dr. Sarno’s theory involves the mind. Through his research at the Rusk Institute in New York, Dr. Sarno found that back pain was difficult to diagnose and treat. This was because causes and symptoms were not always aligning. Science and research are based on a cause and effect relationship. When patients were having a) symptoms with no structural abnormality or b) differing patient responses to the same diagnosis (i.e. some patients in extreme pain from a herniated disc and others completely asymptomatic), Dr. Sarno decided that the cause of pain may not be due to any structural abnormality. The commonality was stemming from something psychological. He diagnosed patients with TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) when the cause of pain or a chronic condition was actually induced from stress or surpressed emotions.

Now, I’m a tricky one. I’ve often had psycho-somatic aliments starting from intense stomach aches as a child. I’ve also struggled with other stress induced conditions. Although I do believe there was a huge structural component to my back pain, I also believe there was a huge psychological component as well. It’s not by chance that my back went out two weeks before one of the biggest days of my life. I had been planning my wedding for the past 6 months, running Mind & Motion (which is only a year old) and organizing our honeymoon. All of that was stressful enough, but I was also realizing the emotional implications that come along with committing to another person for life. I was stressed. Healing cannot begin if the body is in a sympathetic flux so relaxation was key. It was also important to remember that any additional tension caused by the pain itself would only perpetuate the condition. So, I tried to breathe, meditate, pray, and let go to the best of my ability. I’m also still in the process of learning how to recondition my brain so that my stress doesn’t manifest itself in physical ways. This is hard because I spend so much of my day focusing on the body.

Knowing that there is nothing seriously wrong with me and directing my focus toward my emotions has helped me get through this chronic pain. I have also found other resources by psychologists in Los Angeles. Alan Gordon is a clinical researcher of TMS in Los Angeles. For more information on TMS, you can read an article by him here.

Dealing with Back Pain

Posted in Health, Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on October 7, 2012

Wedding photo by Nancy Neil

As some you may already know even though I’m a professional body worker and teacher… I am also human (strange, I know). This means that I also deal with a host of body-related issues. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at a young age and since then I’ve had flare ups with my back throughout the years. Ballet helped tremendously as a teen (I was sans back pain for around 5 years straight while dancing). Pilates saved me again in my 20s. I’ve also found a few body-workers who have eased the pain throughout the years. For the past year my right hip and low back have not quite been right and 2 weeks before my wedding I went for a light jog and my back went out. It actually wasn’t sooo bad at first and usually when such an event occurs it takes about a week and then I’m back on my feet. This time was different. I went to the osteopath who I had been seeing for the past few months. Twice. I went the chiropractor. I went to the PT. Nothing was easing my stiff, sore back and I was approaching one of the biggest days in my life. F*&%!

The wedding came after 2 advils and I was OK for the celebration. It was an amazing experience to have all of your friends and family in one place. That I will always cherish. I ate, drank, laughed and danced. It was a truly remarkable day.

The wedding was Saturday and Monday Carlos and I were to fly off to Spain for 2 weeks, a honeymoon we had been planning for months. Sunday I realized that I just didn’t have it in me. My body was sore and I was exhausted. I had been planning the wedding and honeymoon for nearly 6 months, running a new business and dealing with a huge transition in my life. Sometimes it’s important to know our limitations and I had just hit the wall.

One of the most amazing qualities about my husband is that he really believes in me. He believes strongly that the human body has the ability to heal itself and that I have the power to get better. I know this as well but it sure is helpful to have a partner reflect that back to me. The first part on my journey toward healing was to relax. We decided to post-pone Spain and head up to Ojai for a mini-moon. 🙂

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa

Ojai was just what I needed; pure relaxation. The first day I indulged in a foot reflexology massage. This definitely calmed my sympathetic nervous system. The body cannot begin the healing process when under distress which is why my back was not getting better before the wedding. Sad, I know. I wish I could have been a zen bride, if there is such a thing. The second day I indulged in an ayruvedic wrap. This was definitely worth the hefty price tag. I became so relaxed that I started day dreaming. It was a bit of bliss. My appetite came back and my back started easing up slowly.

At dinner in SF

On the second part of our mini-moon Carlos and I ventured to San Francisco so that I could work with Carole, my mentor. Carole is one of the only practitioners who really corrects my alignment and movement patterns. I couldn’t do “pilates” per se but she did have me lean into the leg spring with my foot, finding assistance from the apparatus in order to help organize my hip. After seeing Carole I could finally sit without back pain. This was extremely helpful for the plane ride home.

I’m still in the process of crawling out of this hole. My alignment has finally gone back to a more balanced place. I’ve been investing myself in the healing process from a variety of angles. In the coming weeks I will continue to document my experience and observations about chronic back pain. I will leave you with this. If you are reading this and you are in chronic muscular skeletal pain I believe there is a way to feel better. Hopefully my journey can offer some insight. To be continued…

Bride Beautiful

Posted in Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on July 19, 2012

Image

I’m so sorry for my absence these last few months. I’ve had my hands full, to say the least, with running Mind & Motion and planning my wedding (another career within itself). I’ve also been dealing with some health issues which I’ll delve into in another post. Amongst all of this insanity, I’ve been hearing from those older and wiser, to “Enjoy this time. You will only plan your wedding once.” My response is simply, “Thank God.” I mean the pressure is just a little high at the moment and I’m hoping to not end up like a ringing kettle. I’m supposed to be glowing. Isn’t that what they say when you are in love? Instead I feel a little dry and exhausted. So, how am I getting “Bride Beautiful?” I figured I should be dieting, exercising like a maniac, buffing, scrubbing and facial-ing in order to get ready for the big day. But alas, none of this has happened. Instead I’m trying Quigong. 

Quigong is a practice of aligning breath, body and mind in order to move energy. It’s a centering and healing practice. When I’m practicing I feel open and connected to my body, breath and the universe. My goal is to have more “me” time. I’m taking long walks, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, eating healthy meals (with the help of the amazing chef Carlos). I’m also trying to find ways to let go. The apartment doesn’t always have to be perfect and ordered. A little messiness is healthy. I lost my wallet this week and have kept calm, knowing that it would return…and it did! (This is very out of character for me. I usually would have every card canceled and replaced by now). I know that by incorporating a laid back attitude will help also help me to relax on the wedding day. The wedding will proceed in the manner that it’s supposed to and it will perfect in it’s own perfect way. 

Perfect Posture

Posted in My Practice, Personal Essays, Pilates by Meghan Pickrell on June 18, 2010

I happened to be in the bay area over the weekend for a family gathering. I’ve been having some trouble with my lower back the past few weeks and it was fortuitous that I had planned on heading up north. My mentor, Carole Amend lives and works in Marin County and I scheduled a session with her. As some of you know, it can be challenging to always workout alone and an additional set of eyes, hands and a new perspective are always helpful.

After a warm welcome Carole began the session by asking how I was feeling. I told her my thoughts, ideas and frustrations with my back; when my scoliosis takes over, my paraspinals go on strike. Finding my way back to a more aligned body takes some re-education.

When I think of “alignment” I think of the anatomy bone chart and how the pieces should fit together. My understanding is that when the bones come together in a way where gravity is working in our favor than our muscles can work more efficiently. This is what we call proper alignment. It’s sometimes challenging to understand how far I am from this ideal. This is when a session is really helpful.

Carole had me simply lie on the floor with bent legs and began the process of helping to direct my body back to an aligned place. Through instruction, both verbal and tactile, I began to feel very crooked. This is always a good sign. I generally need to feel way off in order to find the middle. Leaning my bones into the ground, rocking, nudging and feeling my support I learned which side was tight. It’s always the opposite of what I think! Carole has such an insight into the body that she can tell me exactly how to move so that I’m firing my muscles appropriately. The muscles that need to contract, begin to hold and those that need to lengthen, stretch.

After my spine had a chance to unwind a bit, I rolled to my feet. Just lying there with some direction, (a little nudging, rolling and relaxing) my back felt so much more supported. I stood and felt that both legs were the same length. This is an amazing feat, trust me. I had Carole take a photo so I could see how straight my back was at that moment. Unfortunately, I don’t have a before picture but my legs look pretty darn symmetrical afterward.

Carole is the only person I have met that can direct my body to a healthy alignment. The hypertonic muscles begin to release and the hypotonic muscles tighten. This is what we call muscle balancing. She does all this with verbal cuing, instruction and some manual touch. She directs my movement so that I initiate appropriately, while feeling my weight and keeping my form. Hopefully, my clients have a similar experience after a session with me. Our goals are the same: to direct the body to a supported symmetrical place, where gravity is working in our favor. Once the body is balanced, no one piece has too much load. It’s just like engineering, the load is equally distributed. From there we can learn how to move those pieces in space.

I walked out of the studio with a mobile, pain-free back, in two hours time. Thank you Carole!

Kicked Out of Yoga… Call Me a Rebel.

Posted in Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on November 15, 2009

yogaLast year I was kicked out of my yoga class. Yes, it’s true. I know most of you must be trying to understand this; how could this be? Yoga class is supposed to be an accepting place open to all. It’s a place to explore your body’s possibilities, find strength and inner peace… right? And me! those of you who know me, know that I’m calm, cool and collected, a body-worker and fellow teacher myself, who is never interested in starting drama… right?

My yoga past

I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga for about 9 years now. I started in 2000 while I was living in San Francisco and found the practice not only challenging but also comforting. I liked the consistency. The practice is always comprised of the same 26 postures, in the same order. There are no surprises. The Bikram class structure allows me to attend classes virtually anywhere and know what to expect. I practiced in SF, and New York when I was living there. Upon moving to Los Angeles I looked for a studio close to my home. I found a class that I enjoyed.  John taught classes on Monday/Wednesdays at 6:15. I liked John’s style and looked forward to class. He was a great teacher, very open to process and kept a laid-back approach when teaching. This was great for me because I already understood the process and knew biomechanics quite well. Keep reading

…the last 5lbs….

Posted in Personal Essays by Meghan Pickrell on August 22, 2009

Last year I had this amazing vacation in Italy. My boyfriend’s family decided it would be an adventure to rent a flat in Florence for 6 weeks over the Christmas holiday and invited us with them. Florence is a beautiful city full of history, art and well… food. As they say, “when in Florence, do as the Florentines.” And that means consuming pasta, tons of it. As well as mozzarella, prosciutto, and hey did someone say “gelato?” again for the 5th night in a row? Yes, I will have 2 scoops of stracciatella please. Thank you.

As you can imagine I was a bit curious to step on a scale when I arrived home. What had this Italian extravaganza done to my fit and slender body? How much will I have to cut back in order to get to my average 123lb weight? I stepped on to the scale and glanced down at my destiny. 120lbs. Really? That can’t be. I had lost weight on my eating binge? I stepped off the scale and waited a moment. Maybe it wasn’t accurate. I stepped back on…and…120lbs again. Hmmm… my mind started turning in wonderment. Maybe my metabolism has been jump started by the over consumption and the calories from the trip haven’t kicked in yet!

With this new-found discovery in tow, I decided to take my body’s positive change to the limit. I generally eat rather healthy. I didn’t however withhold any fat, sugar or carbs from my diet. I continued my workout routine, vitamin intake and I drank plenty of water, which is usual for me. Stepping on the scale a few weeks later I had lost more weight. 118lbs. Now people, I haven’t been 118lbs since high school.

What was making me loose all this weight? Was it the new birth control pill I started in January? Did my body actually need all of the fat and sugar I had denied it for so many years?  I started to freak out a little, was I sick?  Was this like the time my credit card company didn’t realize it was mistakenly charging me 0 APR for 6 months when the numbers should have been adding up? Maybe my body didn’t realize I was consuming so many calories. Was my body charging me 0 APR?

For the past year and half I’ve not thought, worried or cared about my food consumption, which is quite liberating for an ex-ballet dancer who’s tendency was to be over-consumed with weight, shape and size. At that time, concerned about my low weight, I was eating as much as humanly possible in order to try and gain weight: M&Ms at the movies, check. Chocolate cake after dinner, check. Hamburger at lunch with sweet potato French fries, check, check….. I didn’t gain weight.

Of course, all good things much come to end.  A few weeks ago I stepped on the scale.  123lbs! I freaked out.  My glorious metabolism was now turning on me. I immediately went to the first available yoga class. Standing there, I looked at my familiar figure in the mirror, no more flat belly and bony arms.  I was back to me.  I started my practice and began to strike my first pose, which felt pretty good.  I continued, eventually hitting the triangle posture mid-series. I actually felt strong which is something I wasn’t quite feeling at 118lbs. Hey, maybe the slightly puggier me is a little stronger.

During savasena (the rest posture) it dawned on me how reactive I can be.  At 118lbs I was worried that I was too thin. Now, I’m worried about being too fat? Can I just appreciate where I am with my weight and allow my body to just be right here and now at whatever weight it wants. Why be so consumed with 5lbs? I will appreciate my 118lb body and my 123lb body and not get caught up with semantics. This is my new mantra. Namaste.