Before my private pilates circuit session today with the sweetest of the sweet Sarah, I was dragging myself to make the walk to Anya. I have been battling a bout of insomnia for the past two nights and the lack of rest had seriously effected my ability to articulate my muscles in even the simplest of motions. My brain felt fatigued and refused to cooperate. My mind and my body were simply not connecting, the conversation was weak. But Sarah’s bright spirit and smiling heart is always inspiring, and she compassionately challenged and encouraged me-my body and my brain-to enliven and awaken! Exhaustion exacerbated my bad habits, and today especially, it took tremendous focused awareness to accept the challenge to change. Impulsively I tensed up. My shoulders lifted, my hips gripped, teeth clenched and everything was constricted, including, ironically, my strength and range of motion. I realized recently that this (often unconscious) tension and rigidity is preventing me from sculpting the strong yet agile physique I’m so striving for. Today my shoulders were at my ears and the effort it took to stretch them open and pull them down was enormous. Working through a side lying series on the chair apparatus, it seemed almost impossible to push down with my hand on the pedal, while garnering enough strength and maintaining my balance to simultaneously lift my leg. A mermaid I was not. Sarah helped to encourage my shoulders to pull down and out, and miraculously my leg lifted! That seemingly small adjustment was hugely impactful. The tension was relieved from my shoulders and shifted to increase the strength and length through my obliques and outer thigh. There was space where there wasn’t before. I felt strong and stable. My movements were smarter, more specific and exact. While performing 80’s style moves at the wall, Sarah again reminded me to direct my shoulders east and west and south. And again, I felt a marked difference in the strength and fluidity of my movements. After our final series on the reformer and a good shoulder roll and stretch, I indeed recognized another shift. I now felt agile and aware, not foggy or clumsy. My mind was now, as it should be, fluently dialoguing with my body. But, I do realize this is a continuous education and a constant evolution. And, when old habits (and my shoulders) creep up on me, I know I can always return to this place and find the strength and awareness as an aspiring SAGE: S.ensitively A.ware G.ently E.volving Process.