5 Transformative Power Poses in your Pilates Workout

It's no secret that Pilates makes us feel good. But it might be doing more than you think. Amy Cuddy offers us “A free no-tech life hack: change your posture for 2 minutes.”

Yes, our mothers were correct.

Standing up straight is good for you. Cuddy proposes that your posture, indeed great for your body, “could significantly change the way your life unfolds.”

The Pilates Workout: your very own ‘no-tech life hack'

By all reports Joe Pilates was an arrogant man. Consequently, the 2-minute power poses advocated by Cuddy proliferate in your Pilates workout. In each and every workout we have a chance to embrace our inner arrogance and strike a pose, a POWER pose that is. And our power poses MOVE! Change your posture, your mind, your LIFE in 1 hour 3x/week.

Back in the day I was a client of Excel Pilates in Washington, DC. They have a fabulous, powerful tagline:

Empower Your Body. Empower Your Mind.

1. The Teaser

Don't act like you're surprised by this one. Why does it feel so great to do the Teaser? Such a mixture of accomplishment and nausea? It's an infusion of power built right into your workout. Exhilarating and little scary all at the same time. SHOW OFF a little as you circle your arms when you do the Teaser on the Long Box.

Look what I can do!

It's even helpful. And it is certainly okay to have a good time while you workout…:)

2. Stomach Massage with Hands Back

How about the lift of the Stomach Massage Series with the hands back? Those hands back there are what Jay Grimes calls ‘attitude' and it's just the sheer will and lift of your chest and your back that holds you up. And your arrogance…don't forget that.

5 Transformative Power Poses in your Pilates Workout3. Swan on the Barrel

Sail right up into

the universal posture of victory

a lifted chest and both arms thrust triumphantly upward.

4. The Side Bend

In the animal kingdom, Cuddy explains, body language is all about power and dominance: “about expanding, stretching out, taking up space, opening up…humans do the same thing.” Joe watched the animals as well and saw the powerful, expanding, take-up-space positions. Just doing the work becomes an exercise in empowerment if you let it.

Kara Wily (of 5 Top Blogs Answer 1 Burning Question fame) always has top-notch material at the ready. I remember a cue in one of her online classes that kept resonating in my mind, my body and my teaching days later.

“Be GREEDY with space.”

5 Transformative Power Poses in your Pilates Workout

When I was training in dance, I loved to travel.  If I could take off in grande jete in the middle of the floor and land in the corner of the room, that was a good jump.  When dancing in a group piece, however, you also have to be aware and sensitive to the other dancers to keep the group in a bird-formation traveling together.  So I developed the idea that I could be greedy with my space as long as I kept it in my space. I think it has everything to do with what we teach in Pilates.  

Most people do not know the extent to which their bodies can fill in the space around them until they are encouraged to go further.

I like to build stability to build more potential for movement. The more aware I am of my center, the more willing I am to reach out from that center and ‘be greedy with space'.”  -Kara Wily

With this one you can almost see the cats stretching while Joe watched. It helps to feel like you are just waking up from your nap as you stretch your side all the way up to the sky. Take up some space and give yourself a nice treat. Much thanks to Robert Wernick for inspiring all of us to embrace our inner-animal.

5. The Star

Need I say more?

Perhaps we've all seen this footage (0:42 seconds in) of Romana Kryzanowska performing the Star. I love to channel my inner-Romana when working on the Star in my own workout. Her virtuosity is at once effortless and delicious. Will we see a better Star?

I don't think so.

“On my first lesson he gave me the exercise called the Star….and you know, many people never learn the Star at all. So I guess I was pretty much a star then! (laughs)

What Pilates exercise makes you feel powerful? Invigorated? Alive! Leave a comment below so we can all try it 🙂

3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and So Much More

“You can say what Pilates is in three words. Stretch with Strength and Control. And the control part is the most important because that makes you use your mind.”  Romana Kryzanowska

Strength + Stretch = Control.

Stretch beyond your next workout. Examine the Strength of your convictions and marvel at the depth of the Pilates Method. What else is well within your Control? The answers may surprise you.

Strength

3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and so Much More

The common thought on the common matter: pure physical prowess.

Health. Power. Vigor. Stamina.

Okay, pretty straightforward, but how about another angle?

Resilience. Courage. Strength of character. Spirit.

And Joe Pilates would love a look at the super-serious nature of strength:

Skill. Supremacy. Puissance. Backbone. Guts!

The uncommon thought on the common matter: what else is in the realm of strength? Strength + Control =

Calm. Stillness. Composure.

Just a shout-out to all you strong, silent types.

As a new apprentice I remember watching one of my first teachers, Dianne Garrett, give a correction in mat class for the Side Kicks. Using her hands on the trunk of the student’s body to keep it still, Dianne was adamant about the position of the hip and firmly delivered her direction. She had a wonderful, enviable confidence.

Yeah. I want that.

Stretch3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and so Much More

First and foremost:

Suppleness. Resilience. Bounce. Spring!

Now let’s go all humanity on it.

Latitude. Space. Freedom. Tolerance.

Adapt or perish. Move it or lose it. “IN wit the air and OUT wit the air!”

Kathy Grant stated that Pilates is “for the unexpected.” As an 84 year-old woman with decades of Pilates under her belt she was able to avoid serious injury after a fall on a New York City subway platform. It was her Pilates training that enabled her to “bend easily without breaking” and “adapt to different circumstances.”

Control3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and so Much More

POWER!!

Okay, take it easy…

Command. Mastery. Direction.

Nerve Center. Composure. Cool.

Yeah…Pilates is cool…

Control Yourself!

Joe Pilates named his exercise method Contrology, or the study of control. Heed this word only and you can't go wrong. Total Control shall be the fruit of your sweaty labors.

Information Central

The Pilates method gives us a wealth of information about our bodies. It is truly amazing what you can discover by simply paying attention. Pilates helps us control our physical lives and can often direct the future of our movements. We can retain our composure in the face of life’s upheavals and stay grounded in our central command post. Our bodies and minds deserve to be top of the list of controllable items!

Transitions

Transitions in Pilates can be challenging, intricate, vexing and the perfect moment for the body to want to poop out.

During the exercises

Have you found control or it's shiny alter-ego, momentum? (ominous sound-effect here…)

Why does each moment matter so much? Control. But I want to whip my leg around in Single Leg Circles…Nope. Control. Contrology remember? You are in control at all times, not just during the exercises, but in the moments in between as well, linking each exercise seamlessly and efficiently to the next. You are in control not just at the beginning and end of your leg circle, but at every single point along the way. Even that hard part when your foot is really far away from you…why is it so far away if you are not in control? Who's in charge here, you or your leg?

This is Pilates. You might have to use your stomach.

 

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