11 Things I've Learned From Teaching Pilates & Yoga
I have been teaching Pilates for the last twenty years and Yoga for the last seven years. Prior to that, I taught dance for over a decade, which means I've been teaching bodies to move for three decades. I've learned many valuable lessons over this time that I would like to share with you.
The importance of encouraging people to MOVE. Letting people explore movement in their bodies and acknowledging they know their body best.
I've learned my goal is to help people feel capable, strong and confident in their movement choices. Being a cheerleader for people in class is a highlight of what I do.
Having a lesson plan is valuable, but being flexible and ditching the plan to focus on peoples' needs is far more important.
No two days will feel the same for anyone. An exercise/sequence that felt easy one day or week may feel challenging the next day or week.
Celebrating the little or big victories, the "ah-ha" moments with people. My greatest joy is watching people see progress. When the 'Full Roll Up' becomes something that is done with ease; watching the joy in someone's face when a once challenging exercise becomes attainable.
What is going on in peoples' lives effect them and their movement experience. I have watched people go through cancer treatment, loss, and family strife. I have lost special people/friends to disease and mourned them. I have learned to give people space when they need it, encouragement and TLC.
Group exercise is about social connection. Some people prefer in-person classes over virtual because they are seeking connection and we know social connection is vital to our mental health. The pandemic taught me a new way of teaching - virtual, but it is not my preference. I have learned I get positive energy from teaching real people and I hope they get that same energy back from me.
Checking in with people. We all have so much going on in our lives and over twenty years I have watched people float in and out of class and then back again, often when they have a sore back that has flared up. I have learned that our movement journey is not a straight line; we veer away and sometimes find our pathway back again.
I don't have all the answers. I am not able to diagnose or treat any specific injury or condition. However, I am fortunate to have relationships with physical therapists and am able to refer people to these professionals for evaluation and consultations.
There are many different ways of moving and methods, and no one is right or wrong. Unless someone has an injury or specific condition and needs to modify for that injury/condition, all movement is good movement.
Harder, Faster, More....is not necessarily better. I've learned that if we hope to maintain a healthy, mobile body as we age, we need to be intelligent about how we move and exercise. Rest days are essential.
Finally, over twenty years ago, I learned a valuable lesson from a very important teacher to me. You can ALWAYS learn something from every single movement class you take. At the time, I was exploring many dance styles, and taking many dance classes/workshops. Even a class you feel is poorly taught or may feel uncomfortable in your body, will teach you something. The teacher in me today recognizes this from a teacher and student perspective. It is why I continually take movement classes wherever I travel; learning to better myself as a movement teacher never stops.