How to approach yourself in movement.

Diana Bailey Essential Motion PilatesLet your Brownies bake!
By Guest Writer Diana Bailey

Approach your work in Pilates with this general frame of awareness:

  • stsack of brownies.First you organize yourself in the movement much
    as you would assemble and mix ingredients to bake.

Second you refine the mix and maybe make a couple
of adjustments.

     The last and most important thing is to let it bake.

                                                   In my experience, I have to train myself to do this. To
accept whatever happens.

                                                           Brownies do not cook if you keep opening the oven and poking them. So cut it out!  Have some fun with it and give yourself permission to be okay with today’s result.   Practice leaving room for more AND being happy with what is.

 

The Foundation of a New Life Path in Pilates and Movement

A passion for learning more, understanding more deeply, drove me. In 1996, I met Ron Fletcher, a master teacher of body contrology, a master teacher of movement and dance for over fifty years. He came to the work after his own injuries while working as a professional dancer. His unique style of incorporating modern dance technique, percussive breathing (focused breathing using sound and rhythm) with the core of Joseph Pilates’ teachings, spoke to the artist and dancer still thriving within me. Of course, I related to his healing journey and charismatic teaching style as well. It felt only natural for me to apply to his company and training program. For the next decade, my life followed an energizing, focused path of national workshops, seminars and conferences with Ron Fletcher and his master teachers.

In 1998 I opened my first Pilates studio in Denver’s Capitol Hill. With much help and physical labor from my husband Robert, we converted first an apartment and later a condo into a small, private Pilates studio. I had the pleasure during those years to work with many athletes, actors and dancers in Denver community, and loved it!

After much thought, prayer and meditation, I decided in 2000 to move home to Tucson, Arizona and open a Pilates and Movement studio here. I had been away for school, work and “life” a long time and wanted to be closer to my parents. Modeled on the amazing instruction I’d experienced, my approach was to offer customized programs and personal attention focused on the whole person. Today, my Tucson Pilates studio still offers this same environment. I’ve added Movement and Wellness seminars; small group classes from beginning level up to those suitable for instructors, and frequently present off-site workshops, as well. It has been and continues to be incredibly rewarding. I am grateful to my loyal clients, family and the Tucson community.

As for my own health, Pilates healed my back, arm and neck, but I continue to suffer from TMJ “lock jaw,” headaches and ongoing upper back pain. The TMJ specialist I work with guides me with gentle jaw exercises, an appliance and joint injections to decrease inflammation and increase range of motion. Each time we meet, I  remain hopeful about my body’s ability to heal and repair.

I share this because it’s important for us to remember that the healing journey is ongoing. It’s a test of patience, discipline and the practice of acceptance.  Staying in the present and practicing present moment awareness is a tremendous help.  I remind myself constantly that healing is not linear and that it is a process, and as I encourage others to be gentle with themselves, I try to give myself the same gift.

 

Part Four of Five of the article: “An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformative Power of Pilates” by Geneviève Nedder.

The Healing Path of Pilates

Before surgery, the physiatrist recommended  Pilates as one way to help prepare for surgery.  He recommended Amy Anderson (A Living Art Centre), who specialized in Pilates rehabilitation. I’m forever grateful to Amy for introducing me to Pilates and setting me on the path of my healing journey.

I walked into Amy’s studio, looking around the small room filled with strange balls, barrels, beds and other odd-looking equipment. We spent the first several hours together “learning to breathe” and with her gently guiding me through the practice of simply lifting and lowering my arms. Next sessions focused on turning my head slowly from side to side, more breathing and more engaging of abdominal muscles.

Within sixteen sessions and four months, I’d show up to Pilates rehab sessions without a neck or back brace. I had more feeling in my hand and fingers than in years. In a few short months, Amy helped me build mobility, have less pain and most importantly, begin to reclaim my body.

I was elated. Something other than surgery worked and I was making it happen! Re-energized and re-focused, I continued Pilates rehabilitation and moved on to Pilates conditioning for well over a year. In Boulder, I entered a pre-pilates training program at the Pilates Center (Amy Alpers and Rachel Segal), and continued to be impressed with the results and newfound body awareness.

During my year at the Pilates Center, my low back pain disappeared completely. The Pilates regimen prevented the need for surgery. I was realizing the body’s ability to heal, how to recognize and listen to its wisdom, allowing the universe of information and energy to flow. I came to believe firmly in the transformation that can come when we allow the body’s natural healing process to occur and make the time and space to truly listen to our bodies.

Part Three of Five of the article: “An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformative Power of Pilates” by Geneviève Nedder.

The Best Laid Plans: The Life-Plan Derailed

The life I’d planned out carefully now seemed unattainable. I couldn’t exercise, dance, act, direct. Some days I couldn’t even drive a car. Forced to be sedentary, depression crept in, combining with constant pain to make even part-time work an endurance contest. I was thankful just to push through a day and even more so to sleep through a night.

The accident threatened to completely derail the reason I’d moved to Denver, a directing internship with the National Theater Conservatory, an acting school at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. I’d planned to build on my undergraduate studies in acting, and directing, to use the internship as a stepping-stone to a graduate directing program. That life-plan brought me to Denver.

Determined to find pain relief and continue to pursue my dream, I tried every traditional approach, including, physical therapy three times a week, and  steroid injections from a physiatrist. I also pursued non-traditional and holistic therapies  chiropractic treatment, weekly massage therapy,  and acupuncture.  I wouldn’t be satisfied with just a magic bullet, I wanted a sense of normalcy.

Because of nerve compression from the neck injury, I had very little feeling in my  left hand and fingers, and frequent tingling and burning.  Often I couldn’t pick up so much as a glass of water  without dropping it. Many glasses and dishes were broken during those first few years of healing.

The medical recommendations were overwhelming. The neurologist: pain medication and a back surgery to relieve constant low back pain. Plus, a rib resection to alleviate nerve compression. TMJ specialists: jaw surgery on my right temporomandibular joint. The physiatrist injected steroids and encouraged continued physical therapy.

It’s almost comical now when I look back at the array of appliances and props. A neck brace to drive and really, just move around, a bite-like retainer for my TMJ, a lower back brace to help with the pain and special pillows and medications to sleep.

Finally, in the fall of 1995, I gave in and decided to take the path of surgery. The first: rib resection in hopes of decreasing neck pain and possibly regain the use of my  left hand and fingers.

Part Two from the article, “An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformative Power of Pilates” by Genevieve Nedder.

An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformation

Imagine waiting for the light to change, top-down on your convertible, and singing along with the radio on a gorgeous Tucson day. Something makes you look over, and you see a large construction truck coming at you nearly head-on. You’re blocked in by other cars and can’t avoid the collision.

That happened to me in 1992. It was frightening to see that truck turning toward my driver’s side door and knowing I couldn’t escape. There I sat, completely exposed, and instinctively, I grabbed the rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror (given to me by my grandfather, Giddee Paul, years ago) and began praying for safety, protection. The next thing I remember, blurry and dreamlike, was policemen and paramedics surrounding me, and then I passed out.

That accident happened just two months before my graduation from UofA, leaving me with a long list of injuries: a herniated disc in my lower back, whiplash, severe increase in TMJ issues, chronic upper back and neck pain and terrible headaches. A professional actor and director, I had moved and danced my whole life, but now it was as though my body was betraying me. I’d request movement from it, and my body simply couldn’t do what I asked without causing pain. If it hadn’t been for chiropractic treatments and weekly massage therapy, I probably would have been flat on my back. The regimen gave temporary relief, but I essentially lived in constant pain.

Fast forward one year. A four-way stop in Denver, Colorado on a snowy February day. I’m hit again. A pick-up truck slides through a 4-way stop and  plows into the passenger side of my car, causing me to slide on the icy road and spin head-on into a tree. Once again, I struggled to focus through the noise of officers and paramedics, but blacked out.

When I finally awakened in a hospital bed, a doctor and a policeman insisted that I was “one lucky lady.” I didn’t feel lucky at all. I felt scared, aching and disconnected from a body I’d always counted on, but one becoming more unfamiliar with each passing moment. I now had a litany of injuries: fractured cervical vertebrae at C 3-4, C 5-6, a dislocated rib and a shoulder injury, My TMJ problems intensified as did low back pain. At 25 years old, I felt completely debilitated.

Part One of Five of the article: “An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformative Power of Pilates” by Geneviève Nedder.

Taking it to the next level: The Wundas of Pilates Chair

So first things first: I am not an exercise fanatic. You will not find me at the local gym 5x a week, churning out cardio, lifting a multitude of weights or pushing the squats (as much as I fantasize about regaining my 30-year old backside, reality is…). That said, I’m “into” the Pilates Chair; specifically, the Pilates Chair Quartet class I’ve been taking at Body Fundamentals here in Tucson.

It started with exploring an alternative to the monotony of guilting myself into a gym workout a couple of times each week with limited results. I’m a marketing writer, which means a lot of sitting in front of a computer. Not conducive to fitness or flexibility. I’d done some Pilates in Seattle several years before and knew I’d enjoyed the variety and the class camaraderie. Over coffee one day, Geneviève Nedder suggested I try the Beginning class she’d recently developed and launched at the studio.

After only a few sessions, I remembered why I’d enjoyed Pilates so much. I felt so good after each session. Because there are only 4 of us in the class, Stevie (the instructor) could easily correct our form or suggest alternative moves to accommodate a bad knee or ankle, back injury or the like. Within weeks, I could see the definition in my arms, my hips were narrowing (!) and I was feeling more optimistic about anti-gravity effects than I had in years!

I’ve since moved to the Beginning / Continuing class for more challenging, faster paced work on the Wunda Chair (Intermediate is really fast and more suitable for those who are teacher level). I’m challenged in each class because every workout is different. Each movement and progression hits different areas, so you can’t “zone out” but need to remain very “in the moment” to complete successfully. That’s a great benefit of Pilates too, it makes me slow down and focus. I can’t think about what’s next on my to-do list or project deadlines. I have to breathe and pay attention in order to move properly.

I’ve committed to a weekly Beginning / Continuing Pilates Chair Quartet class and recently added a semi-private Pilates session to the mix. The visible results include a narrowing waist, more defined arms, and tighter glutes. Plus, I’m more flexible and have better posture. My most exciting achievement to-date? The Pike! I think of it as kind of an inverted push up. Very challenging, I feel really strong each time the bar rises a little higher.

Yes, I still (try) to work in straight-up cardio a few times a week with either a round on the elliptical, a walk or a bike ride, too, but Pilates has become my gift to myself, my health… and my anti-gravity efforts!

nora haileNora Haile runs her own marketing writing and communications support firm, nhaile communications, providing writing and online marketing support services to small to mid-sized businesses in Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.

Pilates & Movement: Learning Your Body’s Natural Language

Geneviève teaching in TucsonI’ve had the great pleasure to learn my body’s natural language over the more than twenty years of practicing and teaching Pilates and movement, the last 15 while running a small business in Tucson.

The human body is a terrific teacher. It is also a miraculous, complex mystery that most of us know very little about. In a world focused on external results and mind identification, it’s important to stop the mind, and find moments of stillness. Trust your body’s wisdom. “Thinking it through” or strong determination on their own cannot force this knowledge of wisdom from the body. It must be experienced through a connection to stillness and internal energy.

As I begin my 20th year of Pilates, I’m most inspired by the body’s ability to change and heal, thereby leading us to a transformation of some kind.

Our bodies are constantly healing and regenerating.

My own healing and transformation continues to inform my teaching and the way I move in the world. Learning through teaching is a gift. I have the honor of sharing this with students and teachers, individually, and in group and workshop settings.

The external changes, including improved flexibility, better posture, a strong core, defined muscles and moving gracefully, leave students feeling empowered, confident, happy and hopeful. They have a greater level of certainty about other types of exercise and their self-image in general.

A piece of movement, integrated, connected to breath, centered in the body, is a beautiful thing to see and a profound way to experience your creative and natural self.

Geneviève in Tucson studio teaching.Pilates, like many movement modalities, is taught in different ways from varying style perspectives. It’s important for students to find the style that works best for them and a teacher they feel comfortable with.  I believe that with strong technique, freedom follows. Being a passionate student of the piano and language, I compare learning the fundamentals of movement to learning the fundamentals of playing an instrument or learning a new language.

It’s a step by step, many-layered process. Layer upon layer upon layer.

When learning an instrument or language, including the “language” of movement, the fundamentals are essential. They lay the foundation for everything that comes afterwards

 

Keep breathing and moving!

Geneviève

 

 

An excerpt from The Unexpected Cure, an article by Geneviève Nedder, previously published October 29, 2012.

Talk Less, Breathe More.

stones and ocean
Practice breathing with every movement.

Breath is Life. And as we know from Vedanta philosophy, Yoga and Meditation, “Where attention goes, energy flows.”

Take a moment to center yourself before moving by bringing your attention to your breath.  Fill up your lungs  on your inhalation, empty your lungs on your exhalation. Let your breath be easy and soft to begin.

Try connecting your breath your to your  movement during your pilates sessions this week. Be easy with  your breath and your body. Try not to make this a strong effort. There is tremendous power in learning how to move without tension.  Our bodies are designed to move well and with ease.  They’re designed to move freely. Increase your awareness of how and where you hold tension.  If you’re holding your breath,  pause, slow down and consciously exhale.  Try  to practice without a lot of chatter, internally or externally.

Talk less , Breathe more.

The benefits of this kind of awareness and focus on your breath encourages calm and relaxation,  helps focus muscular engagement and release,  and allows for ease of movement.

Keep Breathing,

 

emailavatarb3               Keep Breathing words on top of nature photo

 

Previously Published in October 2011

Welcome to my new blog!

Hello friends and thank you for visiting my blog.

  I have a new home at www.changingthroughmovement.com

In addition to teaching, writing is one of my passions.  Thank you for joining me here in this space as I share my journey of healing and transformation.

As I continue to learn, study and grow so will my posts. In addition to Pilates and Movement, I’m excited to now include posts on Health and specifically Mind/Body medicine.

Upcoming Posts include: Breathing and Meditation practices,  An expanded series on Back Pain Relief,  and monthly posts on nutrition.

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope you’ll participate in the conversations.

With Gratitude,

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