By LeRae Haynes
In the midst of wildfire season evacuations and uncertainty, there is strength and comfort in the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of yoga and Pilates, according to Ellen Paynton at LIFE Pilates Body Therapy.
She teaches Pilates, Hatha Yoga in a flow style, and has formal training in rehabilitation therapy. Her Pilates training was through STOTT, and she uses minimal equipment and props, enabling people to transfer the repertoire home.
In her contract work with ICBC, she works with people who have been in accidents, rehabilitating with things like lower back strain and even paralysis.
“With some people, the physical injury is the focus, and some experience trauma,” she explained.
“But not everyone shows up here, for whatever reason they come, just needing body work – there are often emotional and spiritual issues or questioning.
Movement is one of the easiest ways to access some form of healing, and for many people, it’s the safest.
“For me, it never stops with the body. Most people arrive at the studio with the primary goal of moving their body, and relieving stress. Sometimes they make it through a whole class and it’s still just the body. But more often, the emotional and spiritual part happens right away,” she added.
“The physical is the gateway to the rest. I’m not a counsellor and I don’t teach trauma-informed yoga; for me, this is super-organic, and takes place at the level of each student.”
She explained that, when things get hyped, or hyper-challenging, we think about what happened in the past, and project into the future, adding that it’s important to take the time to sit and be in the moment, to listen to your body.
“In a situation where you can’t physically attend a class, there are many ways you can access yoga and Pilates, such as YouTube. It’s not about availability – it has to do with the person’s perception of how important it is. We struggle to understand that there is so much healing that can happen in a small amount of work,” she stated.
“The five minutes you spend scrolling Facebook, you could have done some breath work, stretched your muscles, or phoned a friend and made a real connection.
“In times of high stress and disconnection, what I do is take off my shoes and stand in the grass,” she continued. “I take my dog with me and sit with her, connected to the earth, and remind myself that what is a challenge is a chance to learn. I find the blessing, and sometimes that blessing is just feeling my feet in the grass. And then I find someone to share that with.”
She recently spent some time at the resiliency centre handing out water and chocolate bars. “There are a lot of places where you can connect with people in all this. Disasters can drive people apart, but can also bring them together.
“I have faith in the ones out there keeping me safe, and I dedicate my practice to them, holding a positive energy. The people out there who are working to keep us safe are doing that so we can feel some normalcy, and I want to honour that,” she added.
“What I’ve learned in all this is acceptance and gratitude of this moment right now. When we first went on alert, I was hesitant to leave my home. And then I thought, do I want to live my life afraid of what’s going to happen next?
“When something like this happens, being in the moment becomes so important. That’s what this has taught me, driving with my sons through the night, to take pleasure where you can – things can change so quickly,” she said.
She added that she hopes that what will come of this is that people acknowledge that they have much more power than they give themselves credit for, being able to manage their re-activity in a situation – to have the ability to come to a place of peace, despite whatever’s going on around them.
“When you’re being intimate with the moment, right now, you’re practicing yoga. And when you’re moving and breathing in the moment, you’re practicing Pilates,” she said.
“This doesn’t require a yoga bolster – it’s just sitting still, putting your feet on the earth, and taking a breath.”
For more information about LIFE Pilates Body Therapy, phone 250-305-5119, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lifepilates.ca