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Using Signals in Pilates

Returned to Pilates for the first time in several months. It is always a delight to diagnose areas that are more agile and others that are responding less.

Today I felt an unfamiliar sense of ease. It reminded me of a comment by master dance teacher and Pilates instructor Dana Lewis. One of her main goals is to make movement effortless.

Something has changed in me allowing more freedom of movement with less of a forced quality. My instructor is Rebecca, a former professional ballet dancer. I responded to each of her suggestions with less grit and more lightness than usual. I was able to relax my neck, open the focus of my eyes, and take long deep breaths. Rebecca noticed immediately and gave me an image of the rib cage easily opening and closing like a bellows.

What has changed? By exploring the image of signals forming networks, I had to concentrate less on specific actions of pulling up to maintain posture or keeping the motion consistent when pushing or pulling. I applied two actions simultaneously that connected areas throughout my body. For connecting the torso to my pelvis and legs, I activated a single signal from the psoas connection to the mid-spine at the bottom of the rib cage. Along with that signal, I pressed together the sides of the hips at the muscle tissue just outside the protruding hip bones. This activated the psoas at the lower spine connecting the torso to my inner legs and joints all the way to the area under my toes.

To make sure, I am getting the lift and the immediate flow of signals, I pulse both these areas as I initiate every repetition. A network has formed so that I can free my focus to attend to the entire body and to an open attitude of brightness rather than extreme effort.

The results were surprising. I spent the rest of my day in an easy settled state.
Tim Hurst. 03/23/17

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Dana Lewis Perspective

Each Person has their Own Movement Quality and Body Rhythm

From my Pilates and ballet training I look at each person as an individual. Each person has their own movement quality and body rhythm. It is like a blood type. It affects the rhythm of their movement and the way they treat themselves, the way they treat their pains and their injuries.

Ballet and Pilates Keep the Body Rhythm Steady

My ballet training has definitely influenced my perspective. My first goal is to stay healthy and next is to make movement effortless. I learned that it is OK to feel awkward. I work with balance and with being off balance. The body will create balance when it is allowed to move in different ways and to make the accidental mistakes. Each person is different and will find what works for them.

My goal as a teacher is to help each person find a healthy way to keep moving, that does not hurt, that feels better at each session, and develops stability from the core.

I watch the way people walk to see how they treat themselves. Many people have decided to live with an injury rather than knowing they can feel better with some help.

Pilates and ballet can help the person in several ways. One is to keep them moving by keeping their own body rhythm steady rather than stopping. The idea is to move through the weak area.

A tendency is to stop movement to concentrate on one part of the body with a weakness or a pain. Often that pain is related to two other areas in the body. When you move the body as a whole, the weak area is supported in a new way. Often the pain will go away or change to a new place.

Another tendency is to tighten up muscles when a movement is difficult. Gripping and trying to work so hard makes progress slower. What I do is to quiet down their rhythm with easy movement and breathing.

The Importance of Continuous Movement

The breath has to come first, then the smoother movement will follow. They need to feel like their movement is normal. I switch exercises for them to feel more relaxed with different movement. Once they have a bit of relaxation, they can understand how to work with resistance.

With both Pilates and ballet, it is important to carry through with the movement the best you can. You move through your weakness and your mistakes. It is all a matter of muscle memory. If you complete the movements then the body will remember and work out a way to get stronger. If you stop then the body remembers to stop.

Some Key Principles of Ballet

Ballet gives the opportunity to move in space and with different rhythms. You also learn to listen to music and discover the musical quality of movement.

Pilates builds on ballet by training large and small muscle groups to work together. Most important is learning how to extend to one direction and resist in the other direction. This push and pull balance makes (the person in) Ballet move easier and helps to find the most efficient way to move.

Understanding body mechanics is important for anyone, a dancer or just the person getting in and out of a car or turning over in their sleep. Of course both ballet and Pilates specialize in circular use of the joints to develop all the areas of the body. The goal is stability by developing strength and flexibility is each area. The hips and lower back are like springs. The shoulder area has its own strength. The arms and legs float in every direction. The core is the main area of stability from the bottom of the ribs to the bottom of the spine.

Advise for Workouts

Keep the movement going rather than thinking you need to do more or push more.

Pilates builds small muscle groups so let the muscle memory work for you.

Everyone has a physical weakness. It will always show up. Be OK with what is going on.

Pay attention

Focus on the problem. The problem becomes an asset.

Anyone can do Pilates with mental or physical disabilities, Autism or Aspergers. Kids pick up patterns so they do fine.
Dana Lewis Paraphrased quotes.
052715. Tim Hurst