Do You See What I See?

Pilates Rapo2

I've had a revelation. Literally. What does this word mean? To see again. To have your eyes opened. To understand. Well, that's what I've undergone.


Out of necessity I have had to record a number of my teaching sessions to have them viewed and analyzed by my teacher, Brooke Siler. We have this arrangement because I'm in Toronto and she's in New York. And with the exception of my trips there for my seminars and workshops, distance means my observation hours are done via Skype or uploaded videos onto a private channel on YouTube.


I often draw my clients' attention to their reflection in the mirror so that they can check their form and see what I see, where corrections need to be made. After all Pilates is all about the lines we are making with our bodies: our "Form". It's always so interesting to me when I see that moment of understanding in a client's eye because they didn't realize their bodies were not doing what I was telling them to do despite their mind believing that's exacyly what they were doing. The mirror does not lie though, and it is in that reflection that we have our true form revealed. That is where correction begins.


Well, I've always worn the hat of "observer" as the teacher. At times when a mirror was not available, my hands and words would give the cues and help shape my client's form into what it is I wanted to see from them. But now, with technology allowing me to record for posterity and critique how I teach and have my clients move, I am also getting to see myself and my clients as an outsider. I can see the lines from a bigger picture. And when it's my own practice sessions I record and watch or have observed later by my teacher, I am amazed at how many more corrections I would offer myself if I were standing right next to me and giving me a lesson.


Today I had the pleasure (some might not agree with the use of that term as 10 minutes into the session I wondered out loud to Brooke "how much longer do we have?!") of being taught by Brooke via Skype. What an experience! There was no one in the studio. No distractions. There were no hands of hers to guide me, push me, pull me into the right form. Nothing but her eyes on me and her words to lead me through the exercises. I have never felt more in tune with my body, more connected to someone's voice, more challenged than this morning. Hours later, I still feel the heat in my body from the burn of my muscles. I am addicted. I can't wait for another torture session! (Just kidding Brooke; I loved every minute of it, even when I came close to whimpering).


I could never have felt this if I hadn't opened my mind to the fact that what I'm doing and what I think I'm doing are not one and the same. I have to rely on a second pair of eyes, watching my lines, watching my every move and take my cue from what those eyes see. I have to feel what they see, seek it in my own body UNTIL I produce the quality of movement that gets me the praise from my teacher.


To my clients I would say: Be patient. Don't rush through the exercises. Don't think harder and faster are better. Listen to my cues. Listen to my instructions. Listen to my corrections. Process it until you feel it. "See" what I see. Feel what I say. Remember the principle of precision and concentration. The mind controls the body. And the body, willingly, obeys.