(I use the word teacher here, but I’ve come to realize that when I’m really doing my work well, I’m not at all a teacher, but a facilitator and witness. The real truth is that we are each learners and that anyone who chooses to work with me is benefiting on account of their efforts primarily and secondarily my own. Above and beyond all else, this concept determines my practice. This respect for the learning process and the learners involved in it, is the very foundation of my work in my little Pilates studio.)
As with all teachers, my teaching practice is a reflection of me and my life circumstances, and it likewise influences my perspective on many aspects of my profession.
I have always wanted to be a teacher in some capacity and it seems that I always will be. To know that gives me a sense of confidence about my daily work that I can appreciate given the many challenges that it presents to me.
When I started teaching Pilates I had no idea what I was doing, I’m sure if some of my first clients were asked they would attest to that. I find it interesting that some people stuck with me through my years of learning and that some moved on to other experiences. This is partly why I’ve always thought that my relationship to my clients is just as important as the content of what I teach them. We all learn from each other in so many ways. I have always been grateful to have each and every one of my clients because I’ve learned something from every session that I’ve had with them. We are each others’ teachers in so many subjects spanning far beyond Pilates.
I think that this notion of a sharing back and forth between my clients and I is partly a result of who I am and partly result of the circumstances under which I teach. I have worked alone for the majority of my teaching years and always apart from my teachers given where I live. I think that my teaching style tends to be more experimental and collaborative with my clients for those reasons. If a question comes up, we’ve had no one to ask but ourselves and so we’ve done our best to honor what we know about Pilates and do what feels right. I have had the wonderful learning opportunity to have some of my teachers work with my clients. That is the only time that I’ve been able to see somebody else’s interpretation of how a client works or what to do about any number of conditions or scenarios that they happen to be experiencing. Apart from those precious moments with a senior teacher present my clients and I have been much more like collaborators than teacher and student. in the frequent case that we’re confused about something, we’ve had to figure it out together. We tend to try out lots of theories until we strike upon what feels best. I tend to ask clients what they feel a lot in order to know how they’re doing with a given exercise. I think that this also helps them to build awareness of what’s happening in their body. Romana told me once that she was trying to help me feel certain things. This made perfect sense to me given my tendency to check in with my clients’ physical experiences.
As time passes we all get better. My clients in earlier days had to muddle through with me as I stumbled to figure out the best way to help them achieve any number of goals. This is another reason that I have so much appreciation for my clients. Had they not been willing participants in my frequent experiments, I would not have as much grace and acuity as I do today. Not that I’ve reached my desired level of either of those qualities, but I’m certainly farther along than I once was.
And this is how I continue. I am always reaching toward a new frontier, as I am always interested in gaining more comfort and grace in the scheme of the constant change which defines this life that we live as humans. Real Pilates is movement first and foremost because we humans are always in motion at some level in our bodies. To be in practice with Pilates as a teacher and as a student is to be in practice with life.