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Beginner’s Mind - Advanced Mind

Posted Aug 11 2008 9:16pm

By Lesley Powell

Last week a new student dropped into one of my equipment classes. Ten minutes into the class she asked what level was the class. It was obvious that she was used to a very fast Pilates class. When I gave feedback to the class, she was obviously too bored to hear the cues for better connections. Speed represented being advanced.

I do like to be challenged. But to do an exercise with bad form is a waste of time. You are working on your habits, not creating better function. I do teach exercises that are sometimes beyond the ability of the student. One; it teaches humility and the importance of the prior warm-up as the building blocks for more difficult exercises. Some students organized better when challenged. For instance a student with back problems organizes her spine better in downward dog and plank pose than in double leg stretch.

This weekend I was teaching Balanced Body University’s Pilates Mat I. I had a variety of students, from new to teaching and professionals teachers bridging over to BBU. It was so amazing to see how all the students were absorbing the information of movement principles. We spent the entire morning exploring biomechanic principles.

Kylie, who has done the BBU’s reformer training with me, said her Pilates practice has totally changed with understanding how the body moves. Before in taking a multi-level class, she would get bored when the class had to slow down to accomodate new beginning students. Now with this deeper knowledge, she welcomes working at a slower pace to explore finding deeper connections. By going deeper into the movement principles, she found that she is working even harder than before. One workout at a slower pace, her abdominals were sore the next day from this deeper concentration. Kylie was a competitive swimmer in college.

For some beginners, they don’t have the concentration skills to go as detailed as the students of this weekend. As a teacher, you have to find the balanced and the flow in your structure of your class. Too much information and perfection to detail can be deadly as well. Concentration is a skill. A good teacher will give guidance to the student how to center their mind to better thoughts.

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