I woke up the other day after having, well, a powerful dream. In this dream I was teaching a new class, with new people in what looked like your typical living room. There were only 3 people in the class- no sweat really, for me, after having taught for so many years. Only, this time, the class did not go as I expected.
Every time I started to walk around, they started walking too.
Every time I stood up, they stood up.
They mimicked my every movement, exactly.
And every time I tried to explain that they needed to stay put and do what I said, instead of copying my movements, it was like they didn't hear me.
This is not the first time I have experienced this kind of thing happening with new clients, only, it usually isn't quite so overwhelming! Even in my dream I was more puzzled than irritated. It's my responsibility to teach them, and if they don't get it, it's something I'm doing wrong. That's what I believe about teaching. So I paused, and I thought for a moment. How could I get them to understand me? So I sat down on my mat, and they sat down too. I looked at them, and I said:
"Usually I don't stop a class like this but I feel I need to make something clear to you now. In my classes, I'm here to be your guide. I am here to watch what you do, and help you do it the best way you can. Sometimes that means I'm walking around you to see where your shoulders are in relation to your hips. Sometimes I'm looking at your knees, or your feet. Sometimes I am seeing if moving one part of your body means you are tensing up somewhere else. I'm seeing how your body works together, and which parts are holding you back from moving freely. I don't usually explain this because I worry you might feel nervous, or concerned about "doing it wrong." Under a spotlight, if you know what I mean. I can only explain why it is I am doing this, and to reassure you that this isn't about judgement at all. It's about compassion toward your body. I want to be aware of what your body is doing- what it's been through, what it needs to feel better. I watch to see what areas might hold pain or tension so I can help you find ways to relax them. I have the highest respect for your body- in fact, for every body I have ever worked with. It is a miracle to me how bodies can change, move, grow and adapt to any situation. The fact you are here means that you also care about your body. You care what happens to it. You want to show compassion to your body too. But maybe you don't know how. So I'm going to help you figure it out. And I help best by watching, explaining, and occasionally, placing my hand on you so you can feel what is happening too. I don't believe I'd be helping you very much by simply moving in front of you, and expecting you to follow along. I might as well be on a DVD then. You're not going to change overnight, but you will feel a difference soon. You will be sitting at your desk at work, and suddenly, you will feel the ache in your shoulders. You will sit up tall and relax your shoulders. Or, maybe you will be picking your child up off the floor. And you will stop, and think to yourself, I'm going to engage my core before picking you up. This is the amazing power of pilates. If you can muddle through this beginning, and not worry too much about doing it wrong, and simply keep trying your best and allowing me to watch and correct, this is what will happen to you. It will improve your life in so many ways. "
And then I woke up.
I thought it was important to share this message with everyone. It was a powerful moment in my dream. A message from my subconscious.
I want to add that it may be that you are uncomfortable being in a class like mine. I offer private sessions too and sometimes that helps people gain a bit of confidence, and get to know me before taking the step of joining a group class. Or, maybe this kind of exercise class isn't for you. My way of teaching isn't for everybody. But I can't change how I work- because I believe it works. I have seen it work, over and over again. If you want to start and give it a try so you can see for yourself, please get in touch.
Have you discovered the power of Pilates in your everyday life? I would love to hear about it if you want to share in the comments.
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.