Each sport, each hobby, each passion, puts a unique strain upon the body. Our bodies are highly responsive entities and will do (as well as they can) what we ask of them.
If we tell our bodies we need deep turnout in the leg, it will get there. But without guidance on how to do it, it may choose the path of least resistance, torquing in the ankle and in the knee. With guidance we can teach it to use our hips instead, to get a natural, deep turnout from where it needs to come from.
If we tell our bodies that we need to hold a slightly twisted and somewhat bent position because that is the best way to play the guitar, our bodies will do that as well. We will repeatedly put ourselves into this position and then work from it and so our bodies adapt, strengthening certain muscles, weakening others, stretching or shortening our fascia, whatever it needs to so that we can play that song, just the way we want.
Our bodies will do what we ask, within its capacity to do so. What we can do for it is to increase its capacity, to balance out the impact of our passions with the needs of the body to be uniformly developed.
Why uniformly developed?
Because from a centered, grounded, all movements are possible place, we can then apply ourselves to whatever we want. Realistically few of us will ever be fully uniformly developed, especially if we continue on in a passion that lends itself specifically to non-uniformity. Yet by working towards that balance we delay or avert the structural instabilities caused by our passions and thus keep ourselves strong and capable of embracing our passions far into the future.
Pilates is not the end goal, it is the tool we use to get to the end goal: healthy movement for life.
Today’s piece inspired by this article on tips for dancers.
Love your body, love your life.
From now until February 14th, book in for 5 sessions for just $200, that’s a body-building price of just $40 per private class!
With the start of the New Year comes re-evaluations of ourselves and of our lives. We often feel a desire to start new things, particularly practices that will make us feel better, healthier. So why not explore that healthy intention through Pilates?
Book now via email or call the Studio at 604-723-2309. There is no other time than now, let your next self improvement start today!
(Chichen Itza, Mexico. Photo by Violet Redekop. He looks a bit guidish, don’t you think?)
That is a true nature of a Pilates Instructor. Arguably, that is the true nature of any instructor or teacher.
We are a guide to you on your journey.
When it comes right down to it, your body is yours. You are the one living in it. You are the one experiencing the aches, the pains, the pleasures, the sensations in all their forms. You are the one experiencing how your arms feel in your shoulders, the way your spine feels as it bends.
You are the ultimate authority on your body.
You are the one who knows how you feel.
Yet it is common to be disconnected from those feelings. Many people don’t particularly feel the things going on in their body unless the signal is very loud. We forget how to move with the clear simplicity of a child. We injure ourselves and compensate naturally for injuries and forget how to go back to the freedom of movement we had before injury.
(Near Massachusetts, Photo by Violet Redekop. The greenery on the bridge is intended. It is a planted pedestrian bridge. Yet recent storms had washed up debris against the bridge. Nature may clear the debris on its own, but most likely deliberate intervention will be required to clear the way.)
That’s where I come in, where any movement instructor comes in.
I am the outside set of eyes watching you and seeing where you are moving effectively, where you are not.
But it is not enough to see you. Those sights and particularly insights need to come back to you, to give you ways, hopefully multiple, for you to go inside yourself and make change. From rediscovering muscles in your hips, to locating muscles you never realized you had in your belly, to connecting to the more subtle sensations that are constantly happening in your body that most of us have learned to tune out.
And so I use words, words into images and ideas, into concepts of sensations to help you move a different way. I use touch (if you’re good with it) to help you understand your place in space and how your body is capable of moving differently from what you’ve always done. I use the visual of my own body to demonstrate what a healthier style of movement looks like. If scent was useful, I would use that too.*
Yet, my job is not to take you somewhere.
I am a guide, not a taxi. I will do my utmost to show you the way. I will support you when it helps, challenge you when you need it. Yet I cannot do the work for you. In the end, it is you and your body that is on this journey of transformation.
I will use everything I know to help you travel the road. I will point out the pitfalls and celebrate the victories. I will ground you in the knowledge of how your body works to make your journey as informed as possible. I will work through my own body to guide yours to a deeper and greater level of personal understanding.
I do this because I want to empower you.
I want you to feel your own strength. I want you to do things you never thought you could. I want you to discover that you can feel stronger and healthier than you ever have before. I want you to rediscover physical joy in your body. Then you can take that joy into every moment of your life.
Life is for living, as fully and satisfyingly as possible.
Our Pilates journey is about making our lives more satisfied, to live them with more grace, celebration, health. And I am a guide upon your journey, helping you to get there sooner, more authentically, especially into those places you never thought you could reach or didn’t even know existed.
(A fen near Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Photo by Violet Redekop. We can only glimpse at what the horizon offers us if we take the journey. That glimpse, that promise, that lures me to take that walk. And it was beautiful.)
To those I teach now, thank you for the honour and privilege of being your guide. For those I teach in the future, I look forward to learning what your particular journey entails and helping you overcome the inevitable obstacles and setbacks and then challenging you to go farther than you dreamed.
You may not see it or hear it, but every day I celebrate the work that you do to improve yourself, to change, to become healthier, more uniformly developed, centred within yourself.
*Now I’m wondering how I can use scent in the workout. It probably won’t happen in case of sensitivities, but I can see how the right essential oil could help, in memory retention, invigoration, relaxation. Hmmmmm……
Sometimes I am an idiot.
I have a strong personal belief in rest, recuperation and reflection. Taking time to rest the body allows for a form of reset, an integration of what my body has been working on and learning, from the unraveling of old habits to finding new movement patterns. But sometimes belief and practice fail to intersect.
This month I took on the March Matness challenge. It was great! Getting in mat practice everyday felt fabulous. I was getting back into the routine of a daily practice. I was exploring the exercises to a depth I had never reached before.
I discovered new levels of control in the exercises.
I did my best roll overs in my life to date.
I had precision in my spinal movements.
I was working my psoas, finding its power and really deeply connecting with it.
And then my knee started to hurt. But that was because of tight hip muscles, just stretch those out, they’ll be fine.
Then my trick hip went out (this is so common, it’s a “it must be Tuesday” kind of thing). But sure, muscles being worked and getting a bit sore and tight will do that. Note that I am completely ignoring at this point that it is typically a spasming psoas that pulls my hip out.
Then there was this deep ache that started in my left hip. But it was my birthday weekend and there were plans and a long walk and I’m only halfway through the March Matness challenge don’t you know and of course I can keep going, just take it a bit easy and it will all be fine and and and.
And then there wasn’t really an option in stopping anymore. Ow.
It’s been 3 days now of minimal movement, getting both sides of my psoas to rest, gently! stretch and recover. It will probably be another one to two days before taking up more than stretching again.
I love a challenge. I love moving. I love the feeling of getting stronger. It can be very difficult to remember to take rest time, to integrate, to pause and recuperate and heal.
Luckily for me I have a body that won’t take ignoring for an answer.
Do you make resting part of your practice? Or do you push on through regardless?
Yes, I am joining the fun craziness of March Matness this year! I will be doing the mat exercises every day for the month of March. 31 days of 100’s and spine stretch and stomach series, oh my!
Does this sound intriguing? Just the challenge you are looking for? Check out the home website at: http://marchmatness.com.
Just want to get started doing this at home? Check out this 15 minute video that will get you moving with the basic mat Pilates exercises: Studio Clasique’s Basic Mat Pilates exercises.
There is just too much fun to be had! Come join the journey with me.
(Image via MegCo)
It’s December! Time for food, drink, merriment, sharing and then the recovery, also known as January, the giver of New Year’s resolutions and a need to settle back into new routines. In honor of these upcoming events, the studio is offering a special deal:
The Teaser Two-Pack
For those who are curious and just want to have a little nibble of what Pilates is like (and for some of us nibbling is all we will be up to in January), this is a 2 class package, just $50, available for purchase now until the end of January, for new clients only.
This is a great opportunity to have a small, teasing taste of what Pilates is like and how it can help you feel better, stronger, more flexible and ultimately ready and capable to do anything that you love.
It also makes a great gift for your loved ones, for what says love better than “I hope you live a long and healthy life, and this will help!”? Slip it into a stocking or add a bow and under the tree it goes.
To purchase the Teaser Two-Pack, for you or a loved one, just send me an email.
Here’s to a month of loved ones, tasty foods and staying fit INDOORS (and thus out of the cold)!
I can’t believe it’s finally happened. The last year and a half has been a remarkable journey, physically, emotionally, mentally. My world has changed and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m confident that I will have much more to say about the journey of it, after my day job finishes (in less than a week!) and I have more time. In the meantime, I have decided to celebrate by offering my student rates to anyone who books this week for a class(es) in November!
That’s right, if I hear from you by October 31st and we book you in sometime in November, you get to pay my student rate of $30/introductory class* (for new students, for my current clients, you already know how to take advantage of this last week of student rates). That’s essentially equivalent to a group class rate for a private lesson in a fully equipped studio!
Starting November 1st I will have more hour options, so have a look at the schedule (https://www.livingbodiesstudio.com/classes/schedule/) and contact me with what you’re interested in or to ask any questions.
And a special shout out to my teachers, my co-trainees and my students. You’ve made this year unforgettable and amazing, both in the best way. Thank you.
*Applied to a single class, a package of 5 introductory classes or a package of 10 introductory classes. Must be purchased at first class. All subsequent packages will be at current rates.
I had been suffering from a particularly unhappy back injury for three years when I was introduced to Pilates.
Due to the incapacitating pain, my body had become hyper-reactive to any and every form of stimulus, treating it
as hostile and going into spasm. I had struggled to bring the muscles into some semblance of non-reaction, but realized the need to retrain nearly every muscle in my body in order to regain the strength and flexibility I had been accustomed to prior to my injury. This was no small goal, since I had held a high attunement between mind and body in the past and remembered the gruelling work and dedication it had taken to attain it; and so knew the rigors involved since many of my muscles had tightened to the point of immobility — muscle tension that was causing the spinal compression I’d begun to call “crunchy spine”. There were no outdoor activities or sports. There were no staircases. There was barely any endurance for walking a sidewalk. Deep tissue therapy on a daily basis barely eased the tension build-up for more than half-an-hour.
The opportunity to enter an environment such as Violet offers was too…well, opportune to pass up. Besides, I had thought, I had little to lose in trying it out as a potential help; and having the space and a schedule — in effect, a commitment to keep, and help, always makes a daunting task a little more managable.
Violet has an innate and highly developed ability to read body expressions and respond to the needs of people, as she is in tune with her own; this is a valuable trait in (and I deem pilates as part of) the therapeutic / holistic community. We began slowly, with a focus on increasing mobility and flexibility, whilst incorporating numerous exercises that involved many muscles and muscle groups to work in harmony, sharing the load, as it were. Her uncanny ability to judge the true nature of the barriers I was facing, as well as a keen eye for the body expressions allowed her to guide me in pushing past those limitations without pushing too hard and subsequently triggering even a single spasm. With her skills and the studio equipment, a safe and supportive environment is provided for the exploration and pushing of personal limitations, allowing me to succeed ever to more.
Within little more than a handful of weekly sessions there was significant and notable improvement. After a few months the worst of the chronic pain had all but disappeared: I could bend and twist without fear of a twinge; and my strength and flexibility had increased across the board, and beyond what experience had told me was a reasonable expectation.
Now, about half a year since beginning with Violet, my body is well on the way — not only to it’s former glory, but perhaps — toward a brand new state of cooperative harmony. Just as excellent is that pilates allows for endless heights of attainment and challenges me to get there; and there’s always room for improvement, no matter how good you are…or think that you are.
Only a week or two ago, A friend and I climbed the Chief, a small mountain with a steep trail and chains used to assist in the ascent. It was a monumental challenge for me — my most daring feat since the injury, to be sure. Not only did I reach the summit without much difficulty, but I found myself using techniques developed within the pilates regimen to do it, even incorporating some of the exercises into the hike. My posture was better, all my muscles were engaged, which took a lot of the strain off the quads and calves, and my back as well. I remained mindful of proper breathing techniques. I slept like the dead that night, but there was no spasm or cramping resulting from the trial.
I plan to continue with pilates (and hopefully with Violet) beyond my recovery to experience just how much reward there is to be had. I already recognise many sympathies and syntheses with all the limbs of, and numerous branches of yoga, as well as with principles from multiple forms of martial arts, including but not limited to judo, aikedo, and tai chi. How many more connections will I discover? I must find out.
Thank You Violet.
I have been blessed with Violet guiding me from the very start of my pilates journey. She is present and patient during our sessions, as she coaxes my body to stretch and strengthen. She is gently tenacious as she applies her knowledge of pilates with great intuition and a wry sense of humour. I have grimaced as I tried to correct my unbalanced body movements; I have accessed muscles that I had no idea I had; and I have even sworn at Violet as I struggled with my movements, as my body shook with the tremor of truth. I have the unique experience of achieving a certain level in pilates; then had surgery; and now having to rebuild my pilates techniques. The result is worth the work and sweat.
Violet’s passion and dedication in her work with the body has inspired me to keep pilates a priority in my life. I look forward to maintaining fitness and flexibility through pilates with Violet, which would enable me to keep living my life on my own terms. I invite anyone to try her studio; it has numerous pieces of pilates equipment to keep the excercises varied over time, and Violet’s one-on-one instruction is fabulous. Violet and her studio are welcoming to all fitness levels.
I love Violet’s approach to teaching. She is compassionate, focused, caring and insightful. During class she invites me to get out of my mind so my body and spirit can understand the technique. And then she gently welcomes the mind back, helping me integrate what I’ve learnt as I walk out of the studio and into the world.
Studying with Violet is a gift, one that I am immensely thankful for.
Photo credit: © Brendan Lally Photography 2013