Time to get your ass (and your sass) back to class :)

Get-your-ass-back-to-class-Sept-2016Whoa! It’s September already!

Come and get your ya-yas out with some yoga and pilates, some deep breaths, a few good swears and a lot of laughs! I’m look forward to welcoming some new faces into our zany fold this fall.

Basement Fusion classes will resume on Wednesdays from 6-7pm, and Saturdays from 11am-noon. Classes begin September 7 and run through December 10, and there will not be a class on Saturday Sept. 24th. Prices are as usual: $15 to drop in, 4 for $50, or 8 for $80.

For anyone interested in getting their groove on, I am also teaching Contemporary Dance on Thursdays 6:30-7:30pm at the DSN Drop-in Centre (236 Dundas St). This is a class for adults of all levels, and beginners are definitely welcome. Drop me a line if you have any questions, or get more details here.

 

WHY FUSION?

Sidebar 10WHY FUSION? All forms of movement are connected. What’s called temple pose in yoga is also known as a grand plié in second in ballet. What pilates instructors call spine flexion and extension is the same movement yogis call cat/cow. Mixing all the movement styles I have learned into my classes is only natural, because it’s what I do in my personal practice.

A little of this and a little of that is one way to find balance in my body, and each movement discipline has important lessons to teach. Yoga’s steady breathing, pilates’ focus and flow, and dance’s opportunities for expressing emotion all blend beautifully together.

The word fusion allows me to mix and match the elements that work best for my students, and challenges me to find new ways to move. Sometimes I add a little tai chi, or a strength training exercise. Sometimes I invent something new while experimenting between styles.

Fusion is my way of celebrating the infinite possibilities contained within our human bodies. Try it for yourself with one of my Fusion Quickie videos.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHevIJoNSPc]

WHY PILATES?

method-pilates-precision-toning-jennifer-kries-vhs-cover-artWHY PILATES? I was introduced to pilates in high school by my mom’s workout video collection (you can try Jennifer Kries’ classic 1996 workout on youtube). I was originally drawn to its ballet aesthetic. I’d been taking ballet classes since the age of 6, so pointed toes and long lines were already very familiar. We always did sit-ups and crunches as a warm-up in dance class, so I knew strong abs were important.

The principles of precision and flow appealed to my dancer brain, and like yoga, pilates uses the breath to bring awareness to the body. Later on, when I discovered my naturally extreme flexibility actually made me more prone to injury, I used pilates to balance my bendiness with strength. But it wasn’t until I took my teacher training that I truly understood the importance of activating the deepest abdominals. It’s actually their job to keep the body in steady alignment, and now I’ve made it my mission to spread the word.

Quick-Fix-Screen-Shot-1-cropThe first thing I teach to new students is how to engage their transverse abdominus, and it has a huge impact not only on how they move but how they understand their bodies. To try it yourself, check out my Pilates Quick Fix video.

Oh What A Night!

Kool--The-Gang-Ladies-Night-517839What do you get when you combine three sassy ladies, a funky soundtrack, lots of core strengthening and a whole bunch of belly laughs? You get Piladies Night! I’m really excited to start this semi-private class back up again.

Tonight’s 8:30 class is full but I’m looking to start more sessions. You and a couple friends can have a pilates-fusion class of your own, and I can help match you with some sassy new friends if yours aren’t available.

I have times available most nights of the week, and prices are very reasonable. Message me if you’re interested and I’ll hook you up!

Pilates: Finding Stillness in Motion 

PilatesWhenever I am asked to describe the difference between yoga and pilates, I am first struck by all the similarities – especially with pilates matwork, which is what I teach. Both are forms of mind-body fitness with a focus on breathing, mindfulness and quality (over quantity) of movement.

In pilates, all movements begin with the activation of the deep core muscles. These muscles are the body’s basis for efficiently fighting gravity, and they are designed for the long-term work of holding the spine in good alignment and supporting the use of the limbs.

The major difference in practice is that whereas yoga tends to focus on the big picture, pilates is prone to compartmentalizing the body. This is especially helpful for people with mobility issues, and those recovering from injury. When something goes wrong in one part of the body, it can be necessary to address that specific part individually at first. Pilates principles would help find ways the core muscles can better support that body part in motion while regaining strength.

I often say that yoga is about finding the movement in stillness (feeling the natural movements of the breath while holding steady in a pose) and that pilates is about finding the stillness in motion (using core support to create smooth, steady movements). But the truth is that the two forms are inextricably linked (Joseph Pilates himself studied yoga, among other disciplines) and are a wonderful complement to each other.

PilatesYou can think of it in the yoga terms of Organic and Muscular energy. Lots (but obviously not all) of yoga poses encourage the use of Organic energy, the naturally expansive energy that is felt in big, reaching movements and poses that increase flexibility. Organic energy movements, often linked with the inhale, feel open and free (especially for tight, stiff muscles). In pilates, the exercises focus on the use of Muscular energy, which is linked with the natural contraction of the exhale. Muscular energy pulls the muscles towards the bones and the bones toward the midline of the body, which feels strong and stable. For people with loose joints (like myself) as well as those with scoliosis or mobility issues, that stability is essential to enjoying expansive, Organic movements without fear of injury.

Although they all subscribe to the six basic principles of concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing, there are many different styles that fit underneath the pilates umbrella (Stott, Winsor, Fletcher, etc), each with their own slightly different focus. I trained in the Body Harmonics method.

In my Pilates (and the pilates half of Fusion) classes, you will find that we do not use any of the big (and sometimes scary- looking) equipment. We rarely stand up, instead using a variety of positions close to the floor to address the core from multiple angles. All exercises are done slowly and mindfully with a focus on core support, typically moving one body part at a time while using deep muscles to hold the rest of the body steady.

Quick-Fix-Screen-Shot-3

Pilates exercises may look deceptively simple, but are a challenge to beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. As in yoga, we use bodyweight to strengthen muscles, occasionally adding props to modify the intensity of an exercise. To balance Muscular and Organic energy we end class with a cool-down stretch to lengthen the muscles used. We don’t ‘Om’ or talk about spirituality in pilates class, but we definitely go deep, linking the body and mind with the breath and cultivating the kind of well-being that is rooted in a strong, healthy body.

Quick-Fix-Screen-Shot-1-cropWant to give it a try? Check out my Pilates Quick Fix video, or drop by Spanda Yoga Centre for a class:
Tuesday Pilates, 7-8pm (begins September 2nd)
Saturday Yoga-Pilates Fusion, 11:15am-12:30pm (ongoing)

 

Reggae Pilates: Satisfy My Soul

Jamaican Yoga 24Sidebar 9Here it is, by popular request – my reggae pilates playlist. It’s a collection of fun, breezy songs that’ll make you wonder if you’re sweating from the workout or the Caribbean sunshine. Ya, mon!

Just remember: Getting rumsponsible after your workout will relieve your sore muscles, but may also reduce your ability to balance… practice safely 🙂