The Body as Teacher: What I’ve Learned Beyond the Power of Pilates

The human body is a terrific teacher; a miraculous, complex multi-layered marvel that most of us know very little about. In our Western world that spends so much time focused externally on the material world and identified with the mind, it’s important to consistently stop , find moments of stillness and quiet, and trust the body’s intuition and wisdom. Personally, I do this through daily meditation practice and by consistently moving my body in ways that allow for me to be more fully present with my breath and in my body.

I’m continually reminded that simply “thinking things through” or strong determination can force an outcome; however, it might not be the wisest one.  In fact, from a spiritual perspective, thinking it through and making things happen by sheer will are the least effective ways to encourage healing and nourish transformation.

Although I’m over twenty years into the practice of Pilates, and recognize the numerous benefits of Pilates, I continue to be most inspired by the body’s ability to change and heal, and transform.

My own transformation through movement and passion for mind/body medicine informs my teaching as well as the way I live and move in the world. It gives me great pleasure to share this with hundreds of clients, students and fellow Pilates instructors, whether individually, in small groups or in retreat settings.

It’s inspiring and rewarding to see clients empowered, confident and awakened to the experience of vibrant health  as they experience the external changes of  better posture, flexibility, a strong core, improved balance, defined muscles and increased grace of movement.  On a deeper level, the benefits of relaxation and sound sleep help to decrease anxiety and stress, promoting an overall feeling of ease and calm.

A piece of movement or a moment in time, even, continuous, connected to our breath, centered in our body, is a beautiful thing, and a profound way to experience our natural and creative selves.

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

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.