Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pilates at Amphi Middle School

It takes a village to raise a generation.
My village is doing quite nicely, thank you very much.

GRIN's partnership with Body Works Studios and Amphi Middle School is at it again.
This public/private/not-for-profit collaboration started its second year this morning.
 The swept and cleaned Dance Room at the newly renovated Amphi Middle School campus was the scene, equipped with mats and magic circles courtesy of Balanced Body, Inc.
The girls in Coach Powell's Sports Conditioning Class were the participants.

The girls were a bit skeptical at first.
Kyria got them off the mats and onto their feet.
They were amazed at the amount of work it takes to put your feet firmly on the ground.
Hands placed on the front of the hips lets you feel how open they are, how you can raise your ribs and settle your pelvis and feel taller.
These girls have long, aristocratic necks without even trying.
Hands on the hips, not in anger, but in service of creating a balanced body.
That body can then lean to the left, while the hips remain front and center.
Imagine headlights on your hip bones and shine them forward as you lean to the side.
Come up again and feel your foot centers on the ground before you go to the other side.
A plie is not a squat.  You go straight down, bending the knees and folding at the hips.
Your butt does not shoot out behind you.
It follows your upright pelvis straight down.
Once we got the bending straight down figured out, it was time to learn to bend our spines.
Rounding over and touching the floor brought them to their knees.
There was rounding and then flaring as angry cats and lazy cows were created.
A brief resting position, child's pose to the yogi's in the audience,
and then it was learning how hard it is to sit up and out of your sit bones, with your legs straight and your neck long.
Kyria demonstrated the starting position for the roll down,
and then they were on their own.
Hands behind the thighs helps slow things down.
It will take some time before they find their quadrants and their breath.
On the other hand, no one clunked down quickly and everyone tried to stay evenly weighted, left to right, front to back.
For some reason, lying straight out and "getting as long as you can" made them smile.
So did creating the Big X's on the floor.
I don't know why this made them so happy, but it did.
One of the PYP participants was a willing model for the pelvic press.
It's a small movement, but a powerful one.
It takes concentration and a true mind body connection, which often does not come easily.
Once it's learned, it's easier to stay up.
Pressing down with the arms gives the oppositional energy to the lift of the pelvis.
The knees go one way and the upper body goes the other.
The connection is there.... it just takes practice to have it come easily.
I should know.
I've been working on it for years and years and years.
From the mats, legs went to 90/90... 
or tabletop, if that made it clearer.
Kyria made sure that everyone was correctly positioned
before the right legs were pulled in, increasing the fold while the back lay flat on the mat.
Those legs went straight to the sky....except if you were too pooped to pop, as the front right corner illustrates.
Then, those legs came down
and it happened all over again on the other side.
And then, there were the roll ups.
Arms pressing tightly to the sides of the body, exhaling and pressing rib cages to the floor,
they all managed to rise up and over
 and come to sitting.
It took me seven years of mat class to be able to do a roll up.
These girls did it the very first time they tried.
I was impressed.
They didn't think it was all that awesome, but I begged to differ.

With fingers woven behind heads,
trying to sit up and out of the hips
sit bones firmly planted on the mat
they bent over, curving their backs and breathing deeply.

I'd have taken that picture, too, but I was consulting with Coach Powell.
The girls needed to finish up and get back to the locker room to change.

Before they left, GRIN gifted them with new socks.
The floor might not always be as clean as it was today.
It's important that the participants feel that the space is conducive to the work.
GRIN is glad to help.

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