March 23, 2011
How do you get into the zone during your workouts? How do keep yourself true to the discipline of clean transitions, advancing your own practice and challenging your own personal ideal? Where do you give yourself slack? One of the things I have learned over and over again in the years of my teaching is that the commitment to my own practice is directly related to the quality of my teaching. When I keep my practice strong I find myself so much more engaged, focused, excited and energized not only in my teaching, but also in my daily life. I realized early on the more I personally do Pilates, the more I have to share about it. Romana once told me that if I stay true to the method, the method would reveal itself and stay true to me. What did she mean by that?
For me, it is simply a matter of working with three important factors. First, I intentionally work full out every time I practice. This means to go for quality and not to skimp when I don’t feel like it. I challenge my personal best by maintaining awareness of extraneous movements and by focusing on precision and movement quality, reaching for the goal of the exercise. By working with a balance of tempo and control with squeaky-clean transitions, a new world of discovery opens up for the one-hour I give myself. I know the places in the workout where I have choices to include a variation or perhaps omit something, making instantaneous decisions about how and why to do so; always mindful of where I am going next. I notice the nuances occurring in the moment and work get the feeling or purpose of the exercise starting with the first repetition and then carry it through to resolution in as few repetitions as possible. Sounds like a tall order, but that is what goes on in my head. Experience has taught me that by going deeper in my personal practice, gems of insight are a joyful reward.
The second factor, which reliably draws me into the zone, is to breathe as full and deep as I can right from the first exercise, whether it is on the mat or reformer. This works like a charm to clear my mind and begin the flow of the session. I get in tune with the reformer springs and listen to my breath in time with the sound of the springs working with the movement. I can hear the quality of movement by the sounds I hear. Immediately aware of tension or sluggishness in my body through the breath, I can control the way I feel. Bad mood, good mood it doesn’t matter; after a few good oxygenated breaths in timing with the movement I am on my way to the zone. Early connection with full breathing also creates a deeper powerhouse connection and helps set the rhythm for the entire session.
The third factor that keeps me on point is to keep the workout fresh, fun and varied. Some of this is a matter of session design. Will today’s workout be on the reformer, reformer mat, reformer on the cadillac, or will it be on the chair and barrels? What kind of fun can I create for myself in this one hour of playtime? What discoveries can I make? How can I make this hour really matter to add value to my day? What can I do in this workout to make it feel worthwhile? So a combination of what I bring to the experience is as important as it is deciding what workout design I choose.
Challenging my ideal for that particular day continues to mean honoring my body and at the same time reaching for my edge. When I expect the best from myself, I feel confident asking the same from my clients. We are role models for our clients and when our energy is bright and clear, our clients pick up on that and are uplifted as a result. Energy begets energy. Pilates is a practice, not a performance and there are always places I can improve. That for me is part of the ongoing discovery into self-mastery that captured my imagination when I first began Pilates and what keeps me coming back for more.
Filed under: Movement Matters