Have you ever been humming along in a Yoga or Pilates class when you realize all the other students are panting, sweating and shaking, barely able to sustain a pose that you just popped right into, easy peasy? Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you were probably doing it wrong.

Painting by Edgar Degas

In my progress in semi-private Pilates classes at Anya, I’m learning that the tasks are often HARDER than they seem they should be, not the other way around. And one of the main reasons they can get so tricky, is the specificity of the command. “Open your sit-bones,” for example. What the? Some students may arch their back, sending a derriere upwards and think “heyo, sit-bones open!” But to really center-flee those bones is a much trickier task. ‘Where ARE my sit bones,’ you’d have to wonder, and ‘what do they connect to?’

We’ve all been through some kind of Anatomy class in our lives (shout out to ninth grade!) but the lesson here is that, just because you can locate a particular bone on a skeleton, doesn’t mean you can find yours. If you can’t visualize a command correctly on an internal level, your bits and pieces might not understand what they’re supposed to do. You might be just bending and pushing in a general way that kind of approximates what you think is going on. And that might be easier, because your major muscle groups (like your good, ol’ glutes) make it so.

The homework I did this week, which I’m now passing off to you, was to take a bath. Of course, there are hygienic and relaxing benefits to this assignment, but the reason we’re doing it with our bones in mind is to really get to know our parts. (My focus right now: the legs). Get a salt scrub that you like and spend some time massaging around, pushing deeply on thighs and hips and calves. What’s going on under my knee cap? What happens when my legs end and my center of gravity begins? Are sit-bones there? Can I differentiate between the two muscles in my calf, or better yet, the two bones? This type of feeling around is the internal version of doing Yoga or Pilates in front of a mirror. You can “see” what you’re doing (internally), and figure out what needs to work a bit harder, less hard, or what’s totally misaligned. Then, the best part. You can work on improving it. Hear the cues, see the activity, and, next time, be the student getting it right. Extra bonus: smooth skin.

*My current salt scrub of choice is the Elemis Lime and Ginger Salt Glow. Courtney likes one from Trader Joes.


Written by Laura Norkin
Body Banter