Pilates for a strong back and core


Practicing pilates is a wonderful way to embrace an authenticity of experiential being and awareness.

If you are new to pilates you might have never heard the term somatic practice and may even be wondering just exactly what that means. Somatic is a term that refers to the soma or cellular body relating to the neuromuscular aspects of the body as distinct from the mind. Therefore, a somatic practice is one inspired by the neuromuscular aspects of the soma or soma body. A somatic practice focuses on the development of subjective awareness as the soma body is sensed and experienced in myriad manners. When experience of the soma body is engaged mindfully with a clear intent and purpose as is done through pilates movement exercise it can be a truly transformational and empowering practice.

Practicing pilates mindfully with a contemplative focus is the perfect way to engender somatic knowledge, intuitive awareness and an authenticity of experiential being grounded in the sentient, perceptual soma body.  Our bodies are apperceptive somatic vessels that can be inspirational tools and complex entities harboring experiential, kinesthetic wisdom, engendering psycho-spiritual awareness and intuitive insight, if we simply take the time to listen to the subtle somatic musings they offer.

As young children many of us were very physically active and lived our lives immersed soaring through nature ever present to enchanting hours of carefree movement our hearts and souls embraced wholeheartedly with great joy.  I remember spending much of my day after school running with great delight even rapture over hill and dale as my body and spirit, were free to roam and soar, guiding me through vast stretches of field and forest.   I can recall that I would slow down just long enough to catch my breath or a moment’s respite under the shade of a nearby tree before running off again. On occasion, I would hang whimsically from my knees upside down hidden within a tree’s branches perceiving the outside world from yet another subjective if topsy turvy perspective.

As children we tend to be more in tune with the sensed physicality of our soma body and embrace our somatic being through spontaneous, carefree, liberating and expressive movement.

When  I was a freshman in college I discovered the art of dance and fell in love with the kinesthetic and creative challenges engaged in pursuit of an expressive ephemeral form. I jumped into the somatic venture wholeheartedly captivated by an intuited sense of embodied purpose which dancers often share when working together creating the choreography and expressive essence of a dance.  Despite obvious competitive aspects of performance I was fortunate to find in my own personal dance explorations, improvising, choreographing, teaching, and creating dynamic movement structures, a strong physical and spiritual bond within a community of individual participants and co-creators. The somatic elements I have come to know experientially as a dancer, choreographer and now facilitator of various somatic movement modalities I am pleased to share with the many pilates students and clients I currently see in the studio and have the fortune to teach and motivate.

Today my approach toward pilates is as an experiential somatic movement form. It is intentional and spontaneous as well as contemplative and reflexive.  I personally enjoy actively participating in the somatic process, improvising and structuring pilates movement sequences of varying styles and purposes. I commit myself fully to the captivating and challenging endeavor. I engage my physicality and my intellect, my mind and my spirit, my memory and my imagination in the sentient, experiential process.

I seek to engage others in the same inspiring process hoping they embrace the somatic experience with as much passion, commitment and joy as I do. 

Participating fully in an experiential somatic process is of value because moving and breathing, contemplating one’s actions meditatively, attending to spontaneous streams of somatic sensations, images, emotions and ideas while currents of oxygen cycle vitally through one’s body is a very rejuvenating experience. As actively engaged movers, our whole sentient being is inspired and revitalized, body, mind, heart and soul.  Spiraling streams of energy, oxygen and life force through one’s body, mind, heart and soul, can be very empowering. Healing energy and rejuvenation is free to anyone who chooses to embrace the moving somatic experience with an open heart and mind, upholding a sense of possibility and wonder, a lightness of judgement, and a positive loving intention.   In essence, performing movement with a sense of gratitude and grace can be well worth the effort and even lots of fun.  We move, perceive, sense and stretch; we spiral upward and sweep around; we swing, swirl and curl, extend, reach and roll.  We stimulate sensations, awaken memories and divulge myriad imaginative captivations that our bodies hold.

We sweat a little; we breathe deeply; we release tension and endorphins flow, so we cannot help but feel inspired and good from the inside out.

Pilates as a somatic practice is a sort of moving meditation grounded in informative movement experience. Pilates is one of the most popular and well known somatic forms gaining huge popularity with the public today. The founder of contemporary pilates, Joseph Pilates took much of his inspiration from gymnastics and the calisthenic movement of his day as  well as the ancient practice of yoga. In Living Yoga, Georg Feuerstein describes yoga as “unitive discipline, the discipline that leads to inner and outer union, harmony and joy.”   Pilates is much like yoga in that it is a disciplined practice of uniting the many dynamic energies of the body through movement and meditation, cultivating an awareness of subtle body alignments, kinesthetic connections and somatic distinctions. Similar to yoga, through pilates practice one nurtures the ability to move better and fosters a deep seated understanding of tranquility and sense of stillness, cultivating an internal calm that underlies a readiness to move embodying correct posture and dynamic body alignments, embracing agility and action with spontaneity, freedom and joy.  

Cultivating a beginner’s mind one can discovered the joy inherent in any somatic practice like pilates.  In my elder years I have engendered a new love of pilates practice that perhaps now rivals my first love of dance.   The dynamic power of peace grounded in an energy reserve or inherent a kinetic flow can also be an inspiring aesthetic sanctuary in which new physical sensations and somatic insights are born.

Pilates engaged as a somatic practice offers rejuvenation and healing through mindful understanding of kinetic body movements and dynamic stillnesses.

I believe pilates like any and all forms of mindful movement and solitude embodies metaphors of experience and living imagery that release healing insights and energy, relating our physicality to a spirituality, unifying our body, mind, heart, and soul, sensed as a whole being and complete self. My greatest challenge as a pilates practitioner and somatic facilitator is to develop methods of enhancing that feel good whole experience whether through increased respiration of oxygen or focus on the breath and or challenging kinesthetic patterns and or insightful contemplative sequences. I believe such practices are inviting even to the staunchest of disbelievers simply because such symbolic rituals of holistic experience reach down deep into the very core and essense of our living nature, making contact with the most intimate aspects of our primordial selves.

I believe that we cannot help but come to know the body of power, energy and light when we aspire toward kinesthetic experiences of authentic metaphorical and archetypal expression that practices such as pilates behold and can readily reveal to us.

In my personal movement practice it is a sense of grounding along with an evanescent sense of being a lithe creature of light that moves and inspires me most, motivating my introspective endeavors, moving me outward and onward from a still presence engendered deep within my whispering soul.   I believe in a metaphorical and archetypal reality sensed as being-ness grounded in the earth and born of eternal light which can be cultivated through myriad movement forms like pilates, yoga, dance, tai chi, marshal arts, and essentially, any intentionally designed and actively contemplated somatic practice.

For me the most powerful and enlightening somatic experience is in that intuitive moment when we sense everything is as it should be and we feel good about it.   As I continue to teach myriad forms of somatic movement including pilates, I continue to learn about my somatic essence. Learning I continue to find new avenues to inspire healthy choices for myself and to engender experiences of authentic awareness that are empowering to me and others.  My most cherished aspiration is to integrate my experience and to share the subjective knowledge I have gained through practicing myriad soma-kinetic forms, aligned into a creative pedagogy of embodied spirituality.  It is my belief that such a practice is founded on an epistemology engendered philosophically, embodied in experiential wholeness, inspired through a dynamic awareness of the body’s activity and stillness, sensed subjectively and intuitively within manifestations of our deepest archetypal being and most soulful, metaphysical presence.

May  you always practice pilates mindfully with naught but love, care and kindness in your somatic heart.