By: Courtney Holcomb
Certified Pilates Instructor, Waveforms Pilates
Pilates attunes you to yourself and asks you to be curious again.
You see, children are encouraged to move in curious and creative ways. I love to challenge adults to think the same. I’ve seen many adults really discover their bodies for the first time through Pilates and that is incredibly inspiring to me.
Pilates – Keeping you youthful throughout your life.
It’s rare to have our bodies observed for movement as adults. Maybe as a kid, taking a dance class, doing karate, or playing sports, you received feedback on your form, or told “how-to” perform a certain movement. For the most part, our bodies turn to auto-pilot after the childhood years. And with auto-pilot, we begin to form movement patterns that become habits. If our bodies were perfect, this would be great. But more often than not, habits without awareness lead to imbalances in the body.
Pilates teaches us to reclaim curiosity and helps us question the what, how, and why of our movement patterns. The discovery and exploration of movement is the task, the sensation is the reward.
The freedom from chronic pain is the reward.
The improved posture is the reward.
The inner strength is the reward.
Why Does Body Awareness Matter?
To not operate on autopilot, we have to bring the mind into it. Pilates is a mind-body practice that brings us into actively thinking about the body. I had an instructor who often said at the beginning of class, “this is your hour to make your body primary.” Not your list of errands, not your weekend plans, your body.
The Pilates session is your hour to put yourself first.
Considering we can never escape our body throughout the day, it has always surprised me how little time we spend listening to it. The more we listen to our body, the more consciously we can change our movement patterns for the better. If we are listening to our body, we are able to tell if a movement we are doing is creating pain. We are able to sense our body to find balance if we stumble to avoid a fall. We are able to navigate the busy hallway without bumping into others.
When is the last time you truly took time to make your body primary?
How Does Pilates Teach Curiosity & Body Awareness?
Group Class Introspection
Pilates work is personal and introspective. Even taking class in a group setting, you are taking class for yourself. I love this about the work. It takes the competitive aspect out of group fitness. The whole class feeds off the energy of one another without comparison. Each individual is on their own adventure of curiosity, trying to discover the connections within their body. With much of the work performed lying on your back, stomach, side, and kneeling on all fours, it is difficult to even observe others in class with you.
Guided Discovery through Individual Sessions
I love seeing adults engage in a one-on-one Pilates sessions for the first time. Without guidance, or “eyes in the sky” observing your individual body, it can be difficult to have awareness of our own imbalances.
General cues from a group class can be helpful, but aren’t always beneficial. Though they may not harm you, they also might not be what your body needs. Guiding people through a thoughtful movement practice is something I find extremely rewarding about teaching Pilates. No fitness is one-size-fits-all, and everyone’s goals are different. Working in an individualized session provides what your body needs, every time.
Self-Correction for Improved Movement Patterns
Pilates is not just fitness, but also movement re-education. The ultimate goal of a Pilates instructor is for their students to be able to sense and correct their own form. The more body awareness you develop, the easier this becomes. It’s great to have verbal and physical cues from a class setting, but you won’t always be in class.
In a group class or one-on-one session, you first may receive a manual cue. The instructor using their hands to place your body in the proper position. The next step of awareness is receiving a verbal cue to remind you how to find the correct position on your own. In the final step of repatterning the body, you are able to sense the adjustments that need to be made on your own. This is the ultimate goal of the mind-body experience that translates into your daily life: developing the ability to self-sense.
Awareness Outside the Studio Walls
Staying curious about our movement discoveries outside of the studio helps the Pilates work translate into our daily lives. With increased body awareness, we are able to sense inefficient movement patterns throughout the day. We becomes attuned to our bodies wants and needs. Hearing a client tell me things like “I was driving and noticed how tense I was in my shoulders, so I softened them down my back,” is one of the biggest compliments I can receive as a teacher. It’s working, I think to myself.
If we want our body to serve us well for years to come, we need to listen to its needs. We need to take more time to make our bodies primary.
Where Can I Learn More?
Changing habits in our body won’t happen overnight, but it will happen with intentional movement practice. Pilates serves as a perfect mind-body complement to create changes in your body for the better. Waveforms Pilates exists to provide movement education for fostering body awareness, strength, and self-confidence.
We believe that Pilates helps us build body awareness and internal strength to keep you healthy and moving throughout all the stages of life. We provide not just instructors, but Pilates educators, to support you in your personal goals and help you develop a connected body and mind. We take a contemporary approach to the Pilates Method layering in anatomy and exercise science.
Rediscovery your curiosity by investing in a fitness plan that works your mind and body. The exercises don’t end at the door, they carry you through your day-to-day and help to serve you a life of movement longevity. Begin with a group class, or dive in with a one-on-one session. Your mind with thank you, and your body will too.