We are delighted to welcome our new Pilates teacher to the Yoga West team! A dancer, Pilates enthusiast and wushu practitioner - read on to find out more ...
How did you get into Pilates?
As soon as I entered into professional dance training at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, Pilates was part of my every day life.
I still remember the first class in my dance school when I heard 'the pelvic floor muscles' and I thought that that was a whole new world opening up in terms of my body awareness. Since then Pilates has been an integral part of my practice.
Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted to pursue Pilates seriously?
When I did my PostDip in Dance Science at Laban (2007), I was hoping I would be able to support and benefit dancers with my knowledge. Upon completion though I realised that the work as a Dance scientist was very computer based needing expensive software and I didn't have a skill at hand I could use in the studio or outside to support myself and other dancers. That's when I realised training as a Pilates teacher would have been of much greater benefit. Although Pilates was always part of my life having attended endless classes, I had many question regarding the exercises and technical precision. The need for a deeper understanding led me to train as a Stott Pilates instructor, which answered a lot of my questions and strengthened my practice substantially.
How has Pilates changed you?
I believe somatic practices like Pilates have direct and indirect benefits. The direct effect of Pilates on my body was to reduce pain, prevent injury, and it strengthened and supported my body. It also helped me to understand my body how it works from a biomechanics point of view and it made everyday tasks a lot easier. Having a strong body it made me feel more confident about my general health. Indirectly, the physical benefits of Pilates have affected me psychologically feeling safer within my body, enjoying my body, and being able to express myself with my body. So Pilates effectively enhances the body- soul connection. Finally, Pilates has taught me how to breath into the back of my rib cage, activating a 3-D breath which is very supportive and helpful in moments of anxiety and stress.
What is your approach to teaching?
I simply care about people, and teaching Pilates is one of my ways to help and support humanity. It won't change the world but when people come to my classes I want them to feel safe and that they work with someone who cares. When I teach somewhere and I am a bit nervous, I always remind myself what is the true goal of my classes and that sets my heart in the right place. So far people seem to pick up my intentions. From a technical point of view and because I am coming from a strong dance background, attention to detail to enhance safety is my number one principle. They say practice makes perfect, but that is only partially true. It is perfect practice that makes perfect. I want to teach people correct technique so they can eventually make choices for their bodies. Of course the class needs to follow the teacher's instructions but we all have individual needs. And with correct training we can attend to our individual needs and enhance our personal mind-body connection.
What advice would you give to people who are considering taking up Pilates?
Of course I could come up with all the scientific reasons why you should do Pilates but effectively it is about the joy of life. A strong body can support a joyful life. Having a body means we are alive. So to a great extent our outer life is a reflection of our bodies. It is our responsibility to protect, nurture, and take good care of what is given to us. The body is given to us.
Do you have a favourite Pilates quote?
The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.
Is there anything else outside your Pilates that people should know?
Having started my adult life with a BSc in Psychology, I have a very strong interest in analytical and archetypal psychology. My life has expanded greatly through the works of Carl Jung, Marie-Louise Von Franz, Joseph Campbell and my beloved author Thomas Moore. Getting in touch with the heroic journey and the individuation process, is what I explore as a person and choreographer through my work with The Crossword Ballet. That happens by bringing together ballet, wushu, mythology, archetypal psychology and story telling. Apart from ballet, Pilates, psychology and myths, a part of my heart is devoted to Wushu the most beautiful martial art. I have been practicing wushu since I was 14.