“We become a temple of God when our continuous meditation on Him is not constantly interrupted by ordinary worries, and the spirit is not disturbed by unexpected emotions.”
– St. Basil the Great
“Where there is rest and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor restlessness.”
– St. Francis of Assisi
Pietra Fitness is stretching and strengthening style classes featuring Christian prayer in the Catholic Tradition. In a Pietra Fitness Class, the controlled, focused, balanced body movements along with the Catholic prayers and meditation are a unique prayer and exercise experience that strengthens body, mind and soul.
As we grow older, much of our thoughts go to the past (family, jobs, health and wellness of our youth) and to the future (losing friends, declining health, suffering, end of life). Anxious and worried thoughts about these realities can become consuming. Exercises used in Pietra help strengthen the body, improve balance, and improve flexibility, and this, along with the prayers and meditations, have the potential to reduce and calm our feelings of anxiety and depression as well as rely more on God for our needs.
It is widely understood that sedentary behaviors contribute to anxiety, depression and cognitive decline. Movement and Christian meditation are crucial to brain health. Movements such as those used in Pietra can decrease the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Pietra involves focusing on breath and slow movements, which can trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and feelings of anxiety. Gentle body movements as well as Christian meditation have been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression.
God has endowed each human person with a body and a soul, therefore true well-being encompasses both. As we age, we must continue to care for and nurture our whole person. Here is how Pietra Fitness can be of help:
• Mind – Pietra Fitness offers a chance to calm our minds, to put aside what troubles us, and to open ourselves to God who is already there, already indwelling in our souls, already working in our lives. So often our worries and anxieties block Him, His grace and His wisdom. We only need to let go, remove the blocks that we ourselves set up. Those blocks can be consuming thoughts and anxiety about declining health, grief over lost loved ones, social isolation, and guilt over the past. These anxieties can often become destructive and hold us back from all God wants for us NOW. The present. It is necessary to live in the present because the present is where God acts. Yes, He is the past and the future, but only NOW can we receive the grace we need to act in this moment. God acts in the present moment. Pietra will not take away the realities of our lives that lead to our consuming worry. The source of the anxiety is still there, but you are better able to cope and to regulate responses to these life changes.
• Body – The rhythm of a Pietra class mirrors that of a well-balanced life. In life we stretch ourselves by trying new things and challenging ourselves. We also need to strengthen ourselves in whatever way that works for you: prayer, reading, time with friends and family. Both stretching and strengthening are needed to stay strong and balanced in body, mind and spirit. It is similar in a Pietra Fitness class. For example, we work on exercises that strengthen a certain part of the body, and then we counterbalance that by poses and exercises that stretch those same muscles. A good illustration is Arch & Round. We come to Hands & Knees and arch the back to strengthen the muscles up and down the spine, then we round the spine to stretch those muscles. As we stretch those muscles, we relieve tension which allows us to breathe, relax and focus on Christ. Utilizing exercises that stretch and strengthen helps to increase flexibility, improve muscular strength, range of motion, posture and stability.
• Soul – “While we rightfully strive to care for the body and mind, we must always remember that the health of the soul is the most important. Scripture tells us, “Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future”. To nourish the soul, Pietra Fitness incorporates prayer and meditation in the Catholic tradition. We begin and end each class with the Sign of the Cross, making the whole hour a prayer and an offering to God. Guided by St. Paul’s exhortation to focus on that which is true, honorable, just, and pure (Phil. 4:8), a particular theme is provided for each workout (i.e. Healing, Joyfulness, Peace, Living in the Present Moment, Trust, etc.). The theme is supported by Scripture, Bodily Prayer and a Meditation during a long hold. Near the end of each class, time is given to reflect on the meditation while letting the body completely rest and relax. Every Pietra Fitness class offers an opportunity to love, thank, and seek help from Our Lord. The goal is to leave class knowing you are loved by and connected to God – an experience that is truly good for the soul.”
Practicing Pietra Fitness offers a unique opportunity to strengthen body and spirit. Not only will we be able to feel the impact physically, but by releasing our tensions, worries and anxieties we can be truly open to experiencing God’s presence and invitation in our lives in a new and refreshing way.
“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”
– Isaiah 30:15
About Pietra Fitness: Pietra Fitness offers stretching and strengthening classes featuring Christian prayer in the Catholic tradition. The goal is to develop strength of mind, body, and soul so that we may glorify God with our entire human person. There are a variety of levels available to help meet everyone’s personal needs and fitness levels. Please stay tuned for online videos that will demonstrate classes and technique. (www.pietrafitness.com)