The 2nd installment of Priti’s adventures is here! Our dedicated mentee shares more on her journey through our Advanced Mentor Program and her ever-growing love for Pilates:
My core, my center
Once again I’m struck by how much I have gained from practicing Pilates. I am so much stronger, more flexible and centered than I was a few years ago. This last piece is what I have been mulling over lately: being centered.
Every person who finds out I do Pilates smiles and says something about “the core”. I’m pretty sure they mean strong abs, and that’s certainly true: My abs are kickin’ these days.
But there’s another dimension to the idea of the core that doesn’t get talked about enough, and that’s the part of the Pilates experience where you actually find your emotional, spiritual, mental core. I spent the better part of the last two decades trying to find a place within me that was centered, and I found it through this practice. I bet others have too. We just don’t talk about it that way.
Somewhere along the way we put Pilates into a box, didn’t we? Something along the lines of…yoga is spiritual and calming, and Pilates strengthens your core. But I think that categorization diminishes the essence of the practice and frankly, sells it short!
A good Pilates teacher (and I’ve been lucky, having studied under amazing ones over the last few years!) will take you to that centered place. But its not like yoga in the U.S. where a teacher will open with overt chants, lectures or wise words. Not dissin’ yoga, I love a good class as much as the next New Yorker, but I like the understated way Pilates gets you to a peaceful place. A good teacher is able to guide a student to her core both physically and in the other ways, without ever making it explicit. I dig that.
Part of what I’ve been exploring lately is how to help folks connect their mind and bodies. I’ve been “travelling” with clients, just flowing and helping them use their breath to release themselves physically….and in a sideways backwards upside down path, mentally and emotionally too. Its been an incredible journey and I think I’m finally getting it, what the intent behind Pilates was when it was first developed. More on this soon. But for now, the most interesting thing for me has been walking with clients – New Yorkers, and you know how we do it – who don’t want to be still, to find this place of stillness. It’s a tightrope act of not saying too much, but saying things right, of figuring out who they are and what they want, and how to give them what they really need. That first little breath, of inhalation inspiration, of letting that oxygen flow to that oh-so-tight place and helping it release. Once it hits, my job is easy – they’re hooked, even the hardcore fitness folks. I’m loving, loving this part of the process.
Not everyone thinks that Pilates can fully take you to that quiet place within yourself. A physical therapist I know believes that while a yoga practice can help you quiet the mind and go deep within yourself, Pilates is still goal-oriented so the mind doesn’t necessarily have the same opportunity to find stillness. I can see where she’s coming from, but differ in my take on this. In my practice of Pilates I have found a stillness I did not know before. And there is beauty in that calm.
About the author:
Priti Radhakrishnan is a Pilates teacher in New York City. She received her certification in both mat and equipment from the Kane School/Kinected and is certified in both pre-natal and post-partum Pilates. Prior to embarking on her journey as a Pilates teacher, Priti worked for nearly a decade as an attorney fighting for access to affordable medicines for patients living in poverty in the developing world. She has lived, traveled and worked in over 20 countries.
Priti came to Pilates through rehabilitation after sustaining dance-related injuries, introducing her to a therapeutic form of movement. She plans to combine that with her experience working in clinical and low-income settings: her dream is to ensure that Pilates is available to everyone regardless of economic status.