This week I attended both Mods and Lila, two of the more challenging core classes available at Anya (pause for applause...thank you). But this post isn’t going to be about how great I am for doing a bit of exercise for once. It’s about a theme I noticed while doing that work in various parts of the Anya studio: lines.
If you’ve attended anything at Anya, you know that “centerline” is an important phrase. This is a cue that helps us lengthen, to get taller and graceful, by lining up crucial points: sides of big toes, inner knees, pubic bone, tip of nose and crown of head. (I’m forgetting a few, but you get the gist). You can centerline while standing in front of a mirror in the group classroom, or while laying on your back on a reformer. But what I found, in my studio roaming this week, is that you can centerline with the help of some inanimate objects as well.
In Mods, I positioned my mat by chance right below one of the ceiling’s exposed pipes. That became an external cue to line myself up. It was extremely helpful in the bridging series; Johnson challenged us to maintain centerline with our hips elevated, and feet pushing into on a soft inflated ball (yeah, right). When we stood up and grounded our feet, I noticed the wooden floorboards provided perfect lines to create a straight foundation. I have knock-kneed tendencies, and straightening out my feet, I’ve learned, is the first step to correcting every awkward bend from there up.
Later, in Lila, we were working on the wall. Not only are the Pilates Sticks a cool toy for teasing balance, but the metal bars affixed to the wall are great visual triggers. Thanks to Sarah’s cueing, we tried to broaden our collarbones to mimic the horizontal bars. We used them as inspiration for opening the sit bones wide, which gives space for an elongated back and leg line. The top bar was even a gentle reminder to keep gaze set high, which opens the base of skull to gently stretch your neck.
When lines are all around, overhead, underfoot, perpendicular, and in plain view, it’s hard not to try and mimic their form. In my one-on-one with Courtney she helped me find a bit of length in my waist, effectively ironing out some lumpiness. It was a great trick, and one I’ve been able to take home with me by imagining the pipes, floorboards and metal bars in the studio. Why shouldn’t my posture be as unequivocally straight as theirs?