As a Pilates teacher and trainer, I strive to communicate to my students in a way that works for them. One of the many valuable lessons I have learned in my teacher training is that not everyone can take direction the same way. I was taught you must find multiple ways of explaining the same movement. One description does not fit all when it comes to learning and the mind body connection.
We all learn things in different ways. How do you learn? Are you a verbal learner? Tell me how to do it and I’ll understand. Are you a visual learner? Show me what it looks like and I’ll understand. Are you a tactical (touch) learner? Help me position my body properly and walk me through it physically and I’ll understand.
Many of us are a combination of the three. For me, I more of a visual and tactical learner. In some cases showing me is all I need but sometimes I may need you to move my foot for me to the right position for example. I have a harder time hearing a description and translating that into a movement.
I strive to offer all three types of cues to my clients and I’m usually pretty quick to figure out what you are responding to the best. Have you ever been in a situation where someone is giving you instructions that you don’t understand and they simply keep saying the same thing over and over again? It’s frustrating isn’t it! They are not teaching you in a way that you are receptive to learning and most likely unaware of this.
If you can figure out your learning style – you can use this to ask for what you need. I had a client tell me the other day, “I’m not very body aware, I don’t really have the mind body connection down and I’m going to need you to show me what each movement looks like for me to get it.” I loved that he was aware of his learning style and able to ask for what he needed so he could get the most out of his session. Knowing he is visual – I still gave verbal cues but I coupled those with visual cues and examples and some tactical cues where necessary.
Many who are new to Pilates are not very body aware or lack the mind body connection. Most sports emphasizes speed or strength without focusing on what muscles are making the actions happen or how each should feel as they go through a movement. Can you imagine ask sprinter as they are doing a 100 yard dash or a basketball player during a dunk to focus on what muscles are working and how they feel? It’s understandable why the mind-body connection is not the emphasis in these scenarios! We are moving to quickly to stop and think.That being said though, as you do find a better connection – this will help you in other sports and activities. If you are more aware of what’s working – you can also be more aware of what needs work! Knowing that my shoulder hurts when I shoot a basket is one thing but knowing that my should hurts when I elevate and internally rotate makes diagnosis and treatment that much easier! In faster moving actions, sometimes it’s after the movement where we can make the mind body connection and rethink how the movement felt.
Next time you are in a session, try to think about what kind of learner you are. There is no right or wrong or better or worse way to learn. Understanding how you receive and process information will help you to ask for and seek the kind of information and guidance you need.