Influences of A Movement Teacher

Opening Note: I wrote this article because I read and listen to Pilates teachers express their concerns about how in the moment of a session, with all good plans and intentions, still feeling whether they are true to themselves and their teaching experience. It may be self doubt, insecurity or thoughts you have about yourself. By writing this article, my intention is to bring your four dimensions into awareness so that you may find better balance and be a true influencer through movement.

 “The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” ~ Lao Tzu

 Influences of A Movement Teacher

 As we move, our body is in motion through four dimensions. Movement occurs in space, which takes us into the energetics of the universe. I move near you, my movement energy is projected toward you. This influences the space around you, which then enters your field of movement. Of course, the same is true from you to me. This phenomenon occurs all the time in our lives. In the Pilates studio or any place of physical training, the teacher or trainer is directing, sensing and making decisions on the experience of the client or students. How a movement teacher observes the client’s field, approaches the client based on this observation, and the ability to assess the movement by truly seeing them through the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies is the place where the most influence is available.

 As a lover of all aspects about the body, and teacher/practitioner/body healer for my life, coming to embrace all the dimensions, beyond the four, has given me fulfillment through helping others move and be their best selves. Every day you have the opportunity to create the field for your clients to become stronger, feel energized and have the “zest for life” by integrating all the dimensions into one single session. Understanding and embodying these influences is what clearly directs you as you spend the time in session. There becomes no doubt or feeling of not knowing, no imposters in the room. You reference your self, and become aware of the influences you project and receive.

 Physical Body

 How do we bring the physical into balance? Move your body. As an influencer of movement, referencing gait patterning is helpful when observing and guiding a client’s body. Gait is the most functional and human movement we do. The human body is designed to walk even if we are unable to. The motions of gait, three planar spirals are inherent in our physical body. These motions occur whether you are lying, sitting, kneeling or standing. Even though a movement appears to be in the sagittal plane, the other planes are present or you would not be able to move. Knowing how to see dynamic movement with 3D vision gives you the direction of how to train what is needed for the client in front of you. The 4thD of movement is time. Mixing up the timing of movement gives the brain-body connections a challenge necessary for stimulation and changes in the brain-body.

 How does the body behave when out of balance? A spiral has a center space, a core, where movement rotates around. In quantum physics this is called a toroidal. Our body’s connective tissues (bone, fascia, muscles) are in spiral form. In movement, when the physical body is out of balance, there will be a disruption of the continuity of flow. A person’s gait would appear as if walking on two tracks, one for each foot, rather than on a single track. The spiral wobbles. The body’s rhythm will change from one transfer of weight to the next. Or if seated, the spine will move excessively in one direction and be more restricted on the opposite side. The client may also have a limited sense of where they are in space as they move, called proprioception. The awareness of moving in space is altered. You see a variation of motion like one leg swinging around rather than moving through each joint from the foot to pelvis.

 Quality of a body in balance: Movement occurs easily from one joint through the next. The movement does not get stuck or miss a joint. Observing the movement, the body appears to flow through the core space of the spiral. Proprioception, the how to move within the space around and within yourself is evident by the ease and sense of confidence.

 Emotional Body

 What is it? If we are experiencing an emotion, even if we are not able to express or name it, it is present in our body. Emotions are not only held in the body, it also resides about 8 inches off the body. It is generated from our nervous system, and hormone responses from how we are feeling. The emotional body is also how we relate to all things, interpret and respond to situations. It is how we react. Touch, for better or not, stimulates the emotional body. The emotional body is the bridge between the physical and mental bodies.

 Qualities being out of balance: irritated, anxiety, tense, cannot concentrate, obsessive, depressed, hormone imbalances so possibly it is hard to maintain healthy body weight

How to see it: The body will hold certain postures matching the various qualities. A very tense person’s body will unconsciously hold the joints limiting their movement. There is an amnesia in the body, the not knowing they are able to move in a certain ranges. Another example, a person will be lethargic, they are hard to get moving. Or you may see shaking while perfomring a movement.

 How to address this in a movement session: Movement with a connection to self; not working out with the negative intention of having improve a flawed body. Unraveling the tension in the body through techniques such as MET, Strain and Counterstrain, fascial release techniques. Focus on releasing stress and anxiety through visualizations and breathing. Learning and understanding emotional intelligence.

 Mental Body

What is it? Our thoughts, attitudes, judgements, self perception of value in the world, it is our cognitive processing.

How to see it: Notice a person’s learning style whether it is limited or well integrated. How words are used and their ability to focus. Is there clarity and direction?

 Imbalanced: One extreme is thinking too much, being excessively driven, narcissistic, lacking empathy, doing too much. The opposite is the lack of purpose, having doubt, ideas lost quickly, low self esteem.

 How to address this in a movement session: The client needs positive feedback. Working with them to self reference their body. Teach them how to feel and sense the body through breathing, and slower movement. Tactile cueing for sensation of the body. Meditation is recommended in addition to a physical practice.

 Spiritual Body

 What is it: It has little to do with what we believe culturally when it comes to religion or spirits. It is the feeling of being connected to something beyond our selves. The element that no one and no situation stands alone, it always takes more than one body to create all that exists in life.

 Qualities of being balanced: Being present, calm, having the feeling of being connected to self and outside of the self, nature. The person may be highly creative. It is a synthesis of the balance of all three bodies. Seeing others as you see or wish to see yourself and act accordingly.

 Out of balance: it manifests victim behavior. One may isolate or separate as an active member of community or society. The person may act entitled. No sense beyond one’s existence.

 How to address this in a movement session: Partner with them, give them movements where another person, or more than one person, needs to participate in order for the task to be successful. Move in nature, take them out doors for a session. Recommend a retreat. If appropriate, small conversations where the person may reflect on themselves.

 All the bodies are present but sometimes one is more dominant than another. It is useful to be aware of when you are in one more than another. We adapt, survive and shift through these bodies. Be conscious of your own balance and how it influences those around you. Movement is the gift for the human body to process life and be present.


Black, Madeline Centered: Organizing the Body Through Kinesiology, Movement Theory and Pilates Techniques, Handspring Publishers 2015

Jill Willard Intuitive Being, Harper Collins 2016

Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light, Random House 1987

Sharon Wielselfish-Giammetteo Integrated Manual Therapy co