I started doing Pilates several years before I began teaching Pilates. But, it was just before my Pilates apprenticeship began that my stomach started to give me issues. And, as I write this I am happy to report that after 10 years of digestive issues I am stronger than ever. Pilates was always there for me. Sometimes it was the only time I felt whole, connected and strong. Pilates was one of the only places I found ‘real’ answers for how I felt and where I was even when my stomach and seemingly my body felt like it was fighting against me.
When it comes to the gut there are many things that can be going wrong. And, so even if what I write sounds familiar to you I highly recommend you get seek professional help. And, do not stop until you get help. My doctors sooo got my situation wrong. I know it wasn’t on purpose. But, their help did make things worse for me. Please be your own advocate. I’m happy to send you the info for those who helped me.
Pilates is often thought of as an ab workout. And, even though there is plenty of evidence that it is not. The fact that you want everything to connect to your center as you move can make someone who suffers from stomach issues run for the alps. Or, think Pilates isn’t for them.
For me, I would start the day feeling and looking like a badass. As the day went on the clothes I was wearing in the morning would be swapped out for clothes that were looser to make room for my expanding stomach. Then by the end of the day, I was in sweats and in puppy dog pose to stretch my center and keep things moving. TMI? Sorry, not sorry, this info is something I want to share so if you’re suffering you know you’re not alone.
Doctors wanted to call it IBS…the catchall for “we don’t know but here’s this to help deal with the pain.” I was put on odd diets of all kinds. They would work for a bit and then eventually my system would figure them out and I would be back to square one. To say this was painful would be an understatement. Exhausting doesn’t even cut it. 10 years of wondering if “I could eat” something took a toll. Emotionally at the end, I was done. Physically I was barely functioning.
The pinnacle of these digestive issues came when I was doing more Pilates than ever before. I was doing The Work with Jay Grimes. My muscles were at their strongest. And, thank goodness for the program because had I not been in it I know I would have not been doing the one thing that makes me feel the best-Pilates.
If you are suffering from stomach issues I sooo feel you. I am welling up with tears thinking of you. I know it’s hard to take the time or effort to move your body. I also know that after every session I felt better than when I walked in. And, for at least 55 minutes I wasn’t thinking about my stomach. I wasn’t wondering if I had the right clothes in my bag to cover up my expanding stomach as the day dragged on. Pilates became a happy place for me. And while I couldn’t ‘feel’ my center most of the time. I could feel the footbar, the carriage, the mat, the handles, the straps, and springs.
I placed my focus on the things I could feel. The parts of my body that I could control. And after each session, I would have this post-Pilates bliss. I would feel like I was me. I was connected. I was whole.
If you are suffering from digestive issues, my goodness I feel for you. And I know that Pilates sounds like the last thing you want to do. But, I also know that the relaxation, the meditation that Pilates provided me, the control and connection kept me going. And, now, 6 months mostly pain-free, I can feel my center when I do Pilates.
PS I do not have IBS, never did. I had an overgrowth of stomach bacteria that despite doctors efforts the lack of support and discovery caused stress. That stress caused my body to stop producing stomach acid and go through a digestive cycle. Which then caused me to stop absorbing nutrition from food and the ability to break down food. So, every time I ate the food would sit and ferment aka bloat and the bacteria would feed off the food aka bloat. And there was only so much room so insert pain every day. The world is under massive stress on a daily basis. If you have stomach issues before you think it’s something diagnosable know that stress is the cause of 99% of all health issues.