Thursday, August 20, 2015

Humans are like Trees


There is no perfect body.  
There never will be.  

Yet we as a society and even as teachers strive for perfection.  The photos of Joseph Pilates spine to match that of our clients in less than a year when in reality for some it may take a lifetime.  Perhaps a better idea would be to not judge and just acknowledge some circumstances (especially as teachers) are out of our control. 

The athlete may get injured.  People need to go away on vacation and may miss workouts.  Sometimes what appears to be setbacks however is just forward progress in disguise.  When in doubt the breath and the engagement of the core (our basic Pilates principles) are the foundation for all of good movement patterns.

For me personally, I find it more rewarding to teach a client with an injury or imperfection.  I can see the progress more clearly.  I can see the soul open up.  I can see the changes unfold.  The confidence build with the improved posture.  Over time they realize they want to eat better and do more self care.  They become a more happy complete person.  That to me is where the reward lies.  

May we all learn to be patient with the practice and enjoy each day as another opportunity to uncover a new layer.  No matter if that is a layer in the system of Pilates or in ourselves.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Unlock Your Client's Potential

Sometimes we are our own problems and we hold the key to our own solutions.

There came a point, as it does for everyone at least once in their life where I was burnt out.  I was teaching so many hours in a studio/gym environment that I personally could no longer stand staying an extra hour to get in my own workout.  I'm sure many a teacher has been warned, especially when going through teacher training..."You love your Pilates practice now?  You're excited about getting in hours of personal workouts to learn the equipment and master your craft?  Just you wait...there will come a day where you will teach the method more and are barely able to get in your personal practice."  I know I was warned this early on and didn't believe it for a second.  I told myself I am disciplined.  I will always practice what I preach.  Yet that day still came.

In a way I felt I lost faith in the Method.  I needed to clear my head from all the years of classical vs. traditional teaching debates.  The years of working in so many different places that I lost track of why I took up Pilates in the first place.  How it made me feel internally strong and beautiful.  It allowed me to be an acrobat, boxer, swimmer, gymnast, equestrian, yogi and dancer.  Pilates took me to a different world where there were less restrictions on my body and I was able to defy gravity if only be it in the 100 for a matter of 60 seconds worth.








How did I unstuck myself and get back in the studio on my own terms?  Basically I had to unearth the joy I had experienced in my first few sessions.  Doing that I had to find a mentor.  That mentor oddly came from an Ashtanga Yoga class and she had no idea until months later how her cues and explanation of yoga allowed me to once again return to the studio and begin again with Footwork.

Part of me had to find my mind and set it right again for my body to be able to accept the connection again.  I had to feel my breath in new ways.  I had to hold a Boat pose to realize how much it resembled a Teaser.  I had to do a full Handstand to recognize how Joseph Pilates was intelligent enough to use the Ladder Barrel to provide assistance to the average "Joe".  

I was again allowed to move in a way that provided the body balance.  The dance of yin and yang.  The twists and side bends.  The full Sun Salutation to rinse the body.  I was told to root down, yet find a way to soften in each pose.  I felt comfort in the knowledge I was only one pose away from meditation or Child's pose.  Once there all I had to do was breathe until I was able to begin again.  

Suddenly Footwork had layers.  It wasn't a silly, quick warm up to get to the juicy parts of Pilates.  Footwork became that time where I was able to check in with my clients bodies and notice all those subtle hints.  To remind them to breathe and why we breathe.  We cleanse and detox the body with proper breath.  We purify the blood through the breath.  We get every vessel and nerve woken up prior to doing the 100 so we see more success later in the practice.

During my group classes I began to educate more and bring back my love of the Method to my students.  I could get all nerdy with some anatomy terms, have them close their eyes to feel the proper way to hold their pelvis steady while under tension and check in to their mind/body connections.  I also began to teach less exercises and focus on the details that make Pilates so valuable.  All those little ways we use posture or lessons on how to pick up a box and put it down with proper control.

So why do we move?  Movement brings us joy.  We dance, run, bike, swim, climb and play sports.  We were meant to be in motion and explore the world this way.  Pilates isn't for everybody.  However, I strongly feel that for everyone there is a point in time where Pilates, if taught correctly, can be the form of movement that will unlock a person from a poor movement pattern.  They will uncover a form of mobility they've never before experienced.  It will make them stay injury free while they train for a half Ironman or dance competition.  It will be the form of workout they use to de-stress from being a full time parent or spouse.  It will be the next step from physical therapy into the real world when gravity is not their friend.

My wish for you is there may never come a time when you feel you need to escape from the Pilates world.  However, if that day comes know that sometimes it takes another teacher/mentor to help you begin again.  All is takes is one single breath and the mental choice to start over.  To make yourself a priority.  Perhaps that is the whole reason it is called a practice?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Health Advice: When to Go Organic?

Q: I feel organic fruits and veggies are best to purchase.  However I have found it to be a bit pricey and find it hard to manage eating well on a budget.  Is there a way to get the most nutrient dense foods without suffering a large grocery store bill?

A: Great question!  You will be happy to know my answer is YES!  The "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" will be your key to shopping organic and when you can save some extra cash.

Watch out for items such as Apples, Peaches, Strawberries, Grapes, Peppers, Spinach, Cucumbers, Snap peas, Tomatoes, and Potatoes.  These are part of the Dirty Dozen list.  Their thinner skins do not protect well against pesticides.  Make sure to clean them very well before consumption.  Best to purchase these foods when they are in season and organic as much as possible.  To have access to things like strawberries or snap peas year round you can always freeze them to later add into a smoothie or stir fry dish when desired.



Produce such as Avocados, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Onions, Pineapple or Mango are part of the Clean 15 list.  This means they have a more protective outer layer and are exposed to much less chemicals.  These are the items you can save some cash on and shop around for the best deals on.  For something like an avocado you can always buy them when green and ripen in a sealed brown paper bag in a day or two.  Place clear wrap over the top stem of you bananas to keep them green longer and lock in their freshness by leaving them out on the counter until needed.      

I hope this simplifies your shopping needs and helps you save some extra cash in the long run!

Reference: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php