What, when and where was your first experience of Pilates?
I originally trained as a dancer in 1993 at the University of Surrey and Pilates was a mandatory part of the course for the first year. I don’t think my first experience was especially positive but that was mostly due to the teacher. It was much later in 2000 when I attended a class at my local gym when I really found my connection with Pilates. I liked the feeling of flow during the class and initially the focus on abdominal support. Since then, I have come to realise that it’s so much more than just a physical movement form! There is much more focus now on how the technique connects you with mind, body and spirit.
What made you decide to move from student to teacher?
I initially wanted to have a deeper understanding for myself but the more I practised, the more I realised that I wanted others to have this feeling of ‘letting go’ that I was starting to experience through the movement and this is what continues to motivate me now.
What teaching tip has had the biggest influence on the way you practice? And the way you teach?
Don’t think about it too much, just move! Don’t make it happen, allow it to happen! By trying too hard physically and mentally, we often create more unwanted tension. It’s actually very difficult to practise from a place of ‘allowing’ because a lot of the time in our day to day lives we are trying to make things happen and use a lot of time, energy and effort in doing so. Our bodies would feel more nourished and nurtured if we really listened to it and followed what it really wanted. This of course is an ongoing challenge for us all but becoming more aware through the breath and movement assists this process.
What does your own self-practice involve?
My self practise is a combination of pilates on the mat and the pilates machines which I am lucky to have at home. I often begin with some of the evolved pilates repertoire to mobilise the spine, shoulderblades and joints. Then I focus on creating and deepening my awareness of abdominal support which leads me into the classical repertoire devised by Joseph Pilates. This is a general pattern but within that, I choose exercises or movements that my body needs that day.
If you only had 10 minutes to practice, what would you do?
Lie in basic rest and breathe!
Who/what is the biggest inspiration on your journey at the moment?
My teacher Hana Jones. I learn so much from her which I incorporate into my own practise. It may only be the most subtle feeling or change in the way I do an exercise but the shift is huge and gives me a completely new feeling and/or understanding of the exercise and it’s purpose. This not only benefits me but my students too. What role does Pilates play in the way you live? It really makes me aware of how I sit, stand, walk, breathe, in fact, it gives me a greater sense of how my body moves generally. If I spend just a few moments paying attention, I can allow very subtle physical changes to occur which can affect not just the physical but the mental and emotional body too!
What do you hope your students to experience when they practice with you?
I hope that through their breath, concentration and movement they start to experience a deep connection with their mind and body so that they can start to release and unravel areas of tension or ‘holding on’, and in doing so, begin to have a sense of what it’s like to feel free.
George teaches at Notting Hill on Fridays at 13:00-14:15.
View George’s teaching schedule.
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