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The Pilates Bookshelf: The Anatomy of Pilates
By Nicole Rogers
It’s surprising that there are so few books out there that directly address the anatomy of Pilates, considering the Pilates world’s enthusiasm for studying anatomy, and considering there are plenty of books out there about the anatomy of yoga. But if you’ve been wishing for a Pilates-specific anatomy text, you’re finally in luck.
Paul Massey’s The Anatomy of Pilates , released earlier this year by North Atlantic Books, covers the basic anatomy of the classical mat series. It is a great introduction to Pilates-specific anatomy, and it is definitely intended for Pilates professionals. The book is filled with excellent illustrations that clearly show the key muscles and how they function in each exercise. The first two chapters provide an introduction to Pilates, and a guide to posture and movement assessment. Then the book provides a description of each exercise: the movement, the breathing, the possible “pitfalls,” and of course the specific muscles that are used.
The book is a straightforward text that deals mostly with musculature.
The Pilates Bookshelf: The Body Has a Mind of Its Own
By Madeline Black
The Body Has a Mind of Its Own (Random House, 2007) by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee is a fascinating and educational book about how we process our experiences through our body. The mother-son science writing team explores the brain’s “body map” and its role in our ability to feel, move, perceive and learn motor skills, as well as how it relates to phenomenons such as phantom limbs, stroke recovery and out-of-body experiences.
The authors explain how the brain works in a way that is scientific yet understandable and entertaining. My favorite part is how they describe the history of the concept of body maps and their importance to the body’s way of learning to move in space and experience the outside world. Read on to see how body maps relate to our work as Pilates instructors.
According to the authors, our peri-personal space changes size in relation to what we are doing. For example, when we are lying on the Trapeze Table performing a movement, our body map goes beyond our physical body to include the bar, springs and table. Beginner Pilates students don’t have the body schema of the trapeze table mapped in their brain yet. They will not be moving with flow and grace with the apparatus but handling the bars and springs awkwardly until repetition develops the schema in their brain. When one is working on the mat, the space shrinks to the area of the mat.
Since the size of the peripersonal space changes, it is important to be aware of the changing boundary the client is creating around himself or herself. When we are cueing or adjusting their body, we are part of that space, inside their boundary. At the same time, the client is part of your peri-personal space, inside your boundary. The boundary is a negotiated boundary between us because we have an agreement with the client based on trust to enter their peri-personal space. Awareness of the negotiated boundary is important to the client-teacher relationship because we want the client to respond favorably to an adjustment.
The client’s body schema develops over time with more practice. I have witnessed clients self-adjust their bodies by a mere non-verbal suggestion when I walk near them to place my hands in a position on their body that I have done many times. It is remarkable how the body schema changes to the place of almost unconscious consciousness of movements. In the book, the authors refer to the power of visualizing an activity prior to performing in order to excel in a high-performance sport or dance.
The book is full of information regarding many in...
The Pilates Bookshelf: Waking the Tiger
A book recommendation from Madeline Black
A Pilates teacher today is presented with clients with issues beyond the physical. They may have problems that are emotional, energetic or spiritual in nature. The physical part is easier for us to understand because that is what we are trained to see and intellectually problem-solve. Sometimes, however, the effort we put into planning and working with a client doesn’t advance the client as well as we’d like it to.