Each year I attend my annual Pilates conference and I walk away with so much I want to share with you! Each year an unofficial theme seems to emerge for me. Two years ago, all the talk was about fascia and the importance of understanding, moving and working with your fascia. Last year, Pilates as therapy and as a tool to rehabilitate came through loud and clear for me.
This year, I walked away with another important overarching message. This year the idea of freeing up our movements was repeated in class and workshop after class and workshop. This may seem like a contradiction to what you may typically hear in Pilates class. Doesn’t Pilates promote stability? Doesn’t Pilates ask us to be precise and exact in our movements? The answer is yes to both of those questions but that does not mean we can’t be free as well. Let me explain!
While Pilates is an excellent way to learn how to stabilize shoulders and hips and engage the core – that stability should still allow for full fluid movements. So how do we do that?? We build strength. We build body awareness. We make the mind connect with the movement. We pay attention to posture. We build up our smaller muscles to support our movements and support our spine. And while we are doing that – we allow our bodies to move.
Let me give you an example – often in Pilates you are cued to keep your shoulder blades in place. This is a good cue when the goal of the movement is to keep our arms below our shoulders. When we are asking you to lift your arm above your shoulder and head … try keeping you scapula down and see what happens? You can’t lift your arm fully! You are restricted.
One of the workshops I attended spoke to the fact we may have over-cued our clients and hindered their movements through the years. It is important for me as an instructor to know when to ask for stability and when to ask for freedom of movement. When drawing leg circles – we may want to focus on small circles – or we may want large fluid circles. Both exercises work the core but require different engagement. We need to be freer in our large circles.
While pelvic stability is important for many movements, we also need to be able to move through our pelvis to better support the spine and free up tensions we may carry in our low back. There is a right place and wrong place to let that pelvis move in Pilates class!
So next Pilates class – lets move, lets explore freedom in our bodies!