In this Issue
Feng Shui Your Practice
Follow our easy tips for making your studio or space ready for Pilates success—physically, mentally and even financially.
When it comes to creating a professional space that promotes well-being, most Pilates practitioners have a pretty good idea of what it takes. Muted wall colors and gentle music, for example, can contribute to making clients feel relaxed and nurtured. But there are also a host of other details, such as the layout of the studio, which can have a great impact on a client’s experience. According to feng shui—the ancient art/science of placement and space planning—these elements can also have a dramatic effect on a practitioner's own feelings, not to mention his or her reputation and monetary success.
For the last 3,500 years or so, the Chinese have used feng shui—literally “wind and water”—to harmonize environments by balancing the flow of universal life energy, known as chi. “Feng shui is a method for seeing life in a holistic way and trying to recreate that symbolically within your home or healing environment,” says Anne Mansfield, executive director of International Feng Shui Guild based in Beaverton, OR. To achieve this end, feng shui practitioners work to balance the opposing energies of yin and yang. Yin elements are receptive, cold and soft, while yang is active, hot and compact. Feng shui also draws on the five elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood to help mindfully organize your environment so that it fully supports you in your life.
Energy Tricks of the Trade
From the moment clients get out of their car, you want them to realize they are entering a nurturing environment. To initiate this feeling, feng shui wisdom suggests you start by making sure your business name and address are clearly visible, you have a plant outside your door, and the entry is unobstructed, warmly lit and inviting. Next, if you have a long hallway leading to your practice rooms, it may create too much energy or “racing chi.” Slow down that energy by adding rounded tables, plants, or pictures.
The colors you choose for your walls can make a huge impact on how clients experience your space and that may ultimately contribute to the financial success of your business. For both the waiting area and practice rooms, choose colors that are soft, such as skin tones or perhaps muted shades of green, since this color is associated with healing, growth and new energy. Be sure to keep the practice space a comfortable temperature, warmly lit and well laid out.
Other suggestions: Add shiny, metal touches to your administrative area to increase precision, and use natural candles or sparkling lights to conjure up the notion of enlightenment associated with the element of fire.
While many of these recommendations may seem fairly intuitive, it’s often difficult to see your own environment with fresh eyes. You might want to consider taking things a step further by hiring a feng shui practitioner. By using her heightened intuition along with either a special compass or an energetic map known as the ba gua, a practitioner can pinpoint the exact energies of your specific practice space. “A feng shui practitioner can see the things that you might be blind to,” Mansfield says. These details will ultimately help you achieve the most enlightened intentions you have for your practice—a feat that will benefit both you and your clients.
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Move From Your Heart
Courtney poses with one of her furry friends.
Shorty after Pilates teacher Courtney Miller, a recent PS cover model, adopted her boxer, Paris, from the Humane Society, she started bringing her to the Pilates studio where she teaches. “I instantly observed some amazing changes in my clients on the days when Paris was there,” says Miller. “They were more focused, appeared relaxed and happier, and it was easier for them to connect to their bodies and breathe during our sessions. I know dogs are often used as a therapy tool but I was experiencing firsthand how Paris’ presence not only relaxed the clients physically but seemed to calm and focus them on a neuromuscular level.”
That year Miller decided to feature Paris on her holiday card, and her clients loved it! As a longtime supporter of the Humane Society and an advocate of pet adoption, she wanted to do more. So, she created the Move From Your Heart calendar, which features rescued dogs from around the country. All proceeds from the sale of this irresistibly cute calendar go to The Humane Society of the United States.
You can purchase a single calendar or package of 10 by visiting www.movefromyourheart.com.
Courtney Miller is a fully certified Pilates instructor with STOTT PILATES®, Teacher Trainer and master instructor for Xtend Barre as well as a published fitness expert and an online Pilates instructor for Pilates Anytime. She has more than 12 years teaching experience working with clients, from post-rehabilitation to professional athletes, around the world and she specializes in prenatal Pilates.
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& A with Rael Isacowitz
Q: What can I do to improve my foot alignment?
A: The feet are the foundation of the body and will affect your life profoundly, from standing still to walking, running and most other activities. Imagine a marathon runner whose feet (or one foot) are slightly out of alignment. Over the length of a marathon, in which he or she goes through the gait cycle thousands of times, he or she will lose time and energy and possibly cause chronic strain and even injury. This is, of course, an extreme example. But even over the period of a day, we go through the gait cycle many times and any misalignment of the feet can result in inefficient movement and problems all the way up the kinetic chain.
An excellent way to start correcting alignment of the feet is by doing the footwork on the Pilates equipment. I teach the same footwork routine on the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair. Each piece of apparatus has specific advantages when it comes to the footwork. Typically I would start with the Reformer. The two joints to address in terms of alignment and gait would be the ankle joint, for dorsi- and plantar-flexion, and the subtalar joint, for supination and pronation. At times it may be necessary to place a small cushion or ball between the ankles and possibly the knees to guide the alignment. The Foot Corrector is a wonderful small piece of apparatus, which, as the name implies, is to correct the function of the feet.
Once good foot alignment has been established, you can progress to the many, challenging upright positions that demand good foot, knee and hip alignment. These include Forward Lunge on the Wunda Chair, Full Lunge and Front Split on the Reformer and the “Fuzzie” series on the Cadillac. Pilates lends itself to full body integration and has so many options that involve the entire body, yet it often all boils down to the foundation—the feet!
Above: Sharon Gallgher on the Balanced Body EXO Chair. Check out her challenging Chair routine in the Jan/Feb issue of Pilates Style!
Rael Isacowitz, MA, has been practicing Pilates for more than 30 years and is recognized internationally as an expert in the field. In 1989, Rael founded BASI Pilates®, a comprehensive Pilates education organization represented throughout the world. For more information, visit www.basipilates.com.
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Close Up: Knee Stretch Push-Ups
by Lindsay Smith, modeled by Ariel Abreu
In the January/February issue of Pilates Style, Lindsay Smith explains how Pilates is the perfect complement to the intense practice of Mixed Martial Arts. Below is one more exercise to help bolster the strength and flexibility needed for such a rigorous sport.
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Body Benefit: increase upper-body strength and stability while challenging balance.
1. Get in a Plank position with your legs hip-width apart. Bend your elbows along the side of your ribs, lowering your body to the floor while simultaneously bringing your right knee toward your right shoulder.
2. Return to the starting position. Repeat on your other side. Do 2-5 sets, alternating sides.
Advanced: While in Plank, walk your feet up a wall to above shoulder level. Repeat the exercise, adding a slight twist of the body toward your knee.
Romana Kryzanowska-trained M. Lindsay Smith regularly works with Muay Thai and MMA fighters (www.knockoutpilates.com) and is also the regional Pilates manager for Equinox in NYC, the largest Pilates program in the world (www.equinox.com). Ariel Abreu is a champion Muay Thai fighter with Take on Productions in NYC and trains with Camp Undefeated (www.campundefeated.com).
When Claire Mark, a Chicago-based yoga teacher and avid cook, set out to find a cookbook that reflected how she ate—mostly vegetarian, some fish, no tofu or other fake meats, and lots of whole foods—she couldn’t find one she liked. The recipes needed to be quick, simple and nutritious without sacrificing flavor or taste.
After searching in vain, she decided to put together her own cookbook. One year later, she produced Cooking with a Yogaview, a yoga-inspired collection of more than 100 original recipes from Mark, her fellow teachers at yogaview yoga studio, as well as students, friends and a few chefs at renowned Chicago restaurants.
Spaghetti squash is in season—it’s an ideal cold-weather dish, and makes the perfect wheat- and gluten-free pasta!
1 spaghetti squash
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese or cheese of your choice
2 tablespoons basil, diced
Chili flakes (optional)
Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Add ¼ inch of water to a casserole dish, and position spaghetti squash, cut-side down. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and place squash on a plate to cool, cut-side up.
Scoop out the seeds, then drag a fork over the flesh of the squash, pulling toward you to release thin, spaghetti-like threads.
4. Add the olive oil, cheese, basil and chili flakes and mix.
5. Transfer to a plate or eat right out of the rind! Serve hot!
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