This Saturday at the Jules Pilates First Anniversary Party, Susan Trier will lead a free QiGong mini class.
(More here for details: event page for party )
You have probably heard me tell a lot of stories. One of my favorite stories is why I took my full Pilates teacher training. The main reason is that my good and wise friend Susan Trier told me to. Sometimes it takes me a little while to do what I am told, but I have to say, when Susan talks, I want to listen. She has so much knowledge and so many great ideas, she has never steered me wrong. Last fall, Susan led her first workshop at Jules Pilates. I asked her to do something about the pelvic floor. A delicate subject, but one that she handled with grace and wit and her typical deep knowledge. Susan herself has completed many trainings. She is a certified personal trainer. She has her comprehensive Pilates and yoga trainings. She is certified in Tai Chi and A Total Control Program ™ for the pelvic floor. AND prenatal and postpartum fitness, Parkinson’s wellness exercise and zero balancing. I only mention some of her trainings.
Susan will lead another pelvic floor workshop at Jules Pilates this spring because we both know this a subject that a lot of people need good information and exercises for but it can be difficult to find classes and get access to info. As well as it is, well, let’s face it, sometimes embarrassing. But if you’re able to come to the workshop, I guarantee you will comfortable in Susan’s presence and you know what? Also have a really good time.
Here is what Susan says about the workshop in the spring, followed by a brief interview.
Me: What would you like to see your students be able to achieve by practicing Pilates?
Susan: For me, Pilates is a keystone discipline. Learning to: use your core to support your body; extend and open your spine; and feel your feet connected to the ground allows us to move with fluidity.
Pilates can help our parents keep their independence and mobility. It can preserve their dignity.
For our daughters, it can help them relate to their body without judgment. And for us, it speaks to us of staying active, witnessing the changes in our lives. Pilates is more than Teaser and yet, isn’t it just a little bit fun when you can finally do something well that is physically challenging?
Me: Any quick words of wisdom about the pelvic floor?
Susan: The pelvic floor is an area of unknown for many of us. We only think about it when we have trouble with it. For example: leaking, an UTI, pain or discomfort during sex etc. We need to befriend this area of the body and learn what we need to do to keep it vibrant and healthy. Its our gateway to mobility, vitality and our sexuality.
Me: Do you see similarities or differences in the Pilates method to health and QiGong?
Susan: Pilates and QiGong share a fundamental perspective. Both of them advocate moving the body from the center: the “core” or “power house” in Pilates; the “dantien” in QiGong. Movement originates from this place and then ripples out into the limbs.
Another aspect that Pilates and QiGong share is the importance of grounding through the feet. In Pilates, whether it’s footwork on the reformer or extension through the foot in mat or grounding into the floor in standing work, the foot is understood to be a critical component. In QiGong, the ancient texts speak of the practice as: “rooted in the feet, powered by the legs, guided by the dantien, and expressed in the hands.”
One aspect of QiGong which can feel very unknown to Pilates practitioners is moving with ease in a “relaxed” manner. In QiGong, this quality of movement is termed “song” or “openness”. This has been interpreted as “relaxed”. For many of us, however, “relaxed” means just the opposite–“collapsed”. When you view QiGong movement as extended and open, the support of this type of movement comes from the deepest muscles, those closest to the bone. With this support, the movement is slow and seemingly effortless. Pilates isn’t known for this “effortless” movement. Yet a deeper aspect of movement in Pilates is “length” and “extension”, particularly in the spine. This is a very “song” concept.