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Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Media, Pilates Expanded | 0 comments

Pilates Pull-Ups

Pilates Pull-Ups

Eme makes it look very easy but the pull-up sitting on the push through bar is not easy.  With growing popularity of disciplines like Cross-Fit it’s great to see useful variations utilising Pilates equipment.

(PS.  Please be mindful of safety on the equipment)

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Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Body & Mind, Pilates | 0 comments

Pilates and Mental Health – Week Two

Pilates and Mental Health – Week Two

Two weeks in and going strong

Goosebumps, pure goosebumps. How many people can say their job does that? And the cause of these goosebumps I hear you ask: my first two weeks of delivering a Pilates class to a group of young men living with addiction to crack and heroin abuse.

My aim for these sessions is to deliver a class that is a welcome relief for those attending- pure body awareness: out of the head and onto the mat. Most people in the addiction world often have an extreme disassociation from the body. They may also be unfamiliar with knowing how to relax. As a result they often suffer with anxiety and then depression.  Because of this I have and will continue to begin the class lying down, the eyes soft but slightly open, resting in the constructive rest position. If you have not yet come across this term I would highly recommend reading Liz Koch’s The Psoas Book.

I begin in this position because the Psoas can have strong links to the fear reflex (pg. 37 of The Psoas Book).  Past conditioning/ experiences combined with the complexity of human nature can sometimes result in an unbalanced state of mental health. Therefore, “An understanding of the influences of the psoas muscle on skeletal balance, muscular tone and the health of the breath, nerve and viscera builds the foundation for comprehending the indispensable role the psoas plays in having not only a health physical life but also a healthy emotional life (pg. 35, The Psoas Book).

However, it’s not all serious stuff! I’ve also been including some standing Pilates, mainly with an emphasis on balance. This always gets lots of laughter, creating a real camaraderie in the sessions. Both weeks the participants have left saying they feel good which really, if I’m honest is all I want them to feel…for now!

Please note that attendees are not able to attend if they have ‘used’ that day. This is for the safety of both participant and others in the room.

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Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in J Pilates | 0 comments

Extracts from A Pilates Primer: The Combo Millennium Edition by J Pilates and J Robbins

Extracts from A Pilates Primer: The Combo Millennium Edition by J Pilates and J Robbins

“That our chairs, benches, settees, sofas, couches and beds seemingly are designed for every other purpose than that of rest, relaxation or sleep – they are in reality the primary cause of our acquiring wrong and harmful postural habits, too numerous for mention here.”

PERFECT Balance of Body and Mind, is that quality in civilised man, which not only gives him superiority over the savage and animal kingdom, but furnishes him with all the physical and mental powers that ate indispensable for attaining the goal of Mankind – HEALTH and HAPPINESS.”

DAILY, from sunrise to sunset, the radio, newspapers and magazines broadcast to the world how to maintain health, how to regain health – what to eat, what to drink, and even about what to think.”

“The mistreated body, mindful of its past neglect, eventually exacts its repayment in full with interest in the form of leaving businessmen their fortunes to contemplate, but denying them the benefits and enjoyments that accrue to other men of wealth blessed with normal health.  The bitter lesson has been learned – but too late!”

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Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Body & Mind, Pilates | 0 comments

Pilates and Mental Health?

Pilates and Mental Health?

Pilates and mental health? Yes, we can help! As instructors we often work with clients in some form of recovery, usually from a physical injury or condition. The results that gentle activity makes available to these participants – peace, alignment, strength, vitality and fun, could be highly beneficial to people in vulnerable situations.

We hear a lot about how Yoga can help with wellbeing and mental health but what about Pilates? Surely is has just the same potential to teach profound body awareness to those living too much in their own heads, yes?

Well, over a year ago I began working with a homeless charity in East London who provided housing for vulnerable people. Within this, support for mental health and addiction issues were offered in order to help individuals to re-join the community.   Amongst those staying at this 24 bed hostel, many residents had been there for a long time and would continue to remain there but for some, it was a transitional place. Schizophrenia and OCD were just some of the mental health issues that were the everyday norm for those residing at the hostel.

I approached this hostel with the offer to teach a weekly class that could provide breath awareness, standing mobility, balance and basic core work (often chair based).

I won’t lie to you, – I was nervous; Nervous about what to teach, how to teach it, how to engage them- just about everything. As instructors, we can all become quite introverted and self-critical but this was another level of analysing my teaching style and ability- I didn’t know what to expect or how people would react to me.

However, as with most new classes we teach, it’s just a case of biting the bullet, trusting your instincts and being confident in your ability to teach a safe, effective class.

Since this initial class over a year ago, I have worked with a small group of regular attendees on a weekly basis. At first I kept the class short (35 minutes) but the participants were keen to extend this- each class then became an hour long.

This class became the highlight of my week and it’s quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in. Seeing the profound changes from the very first session up to now has been incredible. The concentration levels of the group and the calmness they have compared to the start has really compacted how beneficial the right form of physical activity can be. In my opinion- there should be more things like this, accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Because of this belief, I’m now due to start a class for addicts at a different hostel in South London. Again, I’m nervous because now I’m challenging myself to work with a different set of behaviour patterns. However, I’m excited too and I want to share these teaching experiences with you, particularly if it’s something you want to do too. Check out my next blog to see how I get on!

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