I’m a dancer, I used to say I ‘was’ a dancer like somehow one day I woke up and years of dance training had suddenly abandoned my body & psyche, and then my ballet teacher said these seemingly innocuous words to someone also nervously joining the class ‘once a dancer always a dancer’, a light bulb went off in my mind right before my body found itself in the same familiar warm up routine we all do start with every class, one my teacher hasn’t changed in 30 years. My body rests in this space, my mind quietens, I listen to the pianist and I simply do my best.

As a young dancer we were told to practice & practice, that you could never be too flexible and one more turn was always encouraged. We were taught to push ourselves even if that meant not listening to ourselves. The word technique came up frequently, this mystical thing we would somehow embody and recreate with our bodies into passion & artistry. I wasn’t a natural at performing but I loved the process of rehearsals, the creativity, the exploration & the inevitable things that wouldn’t work, including being dropped from a few lifts, I revelled in the creativity of process before the dreaded expectation of perfection & performance.

And whilst I don’t dance professionally these days I am just as in love with the process & the exploration in all movement especially in class. Can I bring my mind present even when my body is being less compliant & vice versa? These days I understand a lot more about alignment & creating space in my muscles & joints, In some ways I move with more ease at 50 than I did at 15 (though perhaps not as quickly, I was always built for Adagio not allegro) I know how to get the best out of my body & I learn from teachers who create further space for me to explore my possibilities & not limit them. I’ve had plenty of experts tell me I shouldn’t still be doing ballet and definitely not pointe work. So as is my will I ignore those who tell me I shouldn’t and seek the teachers who understand my love of this world and help me maintain a body that can embrace the practice as my body is experiencing life now. It’s the same with my clients, they don’t have to love Pilates they just have to translate it into a language that makes their movement freer, their life passions accessible in the healthiest way possible.

So by all means practice whatever you love but the way you practice matters, the experience your body goes through matters. Never allow a teacher to tell you what you should be feeling (though I will often direct what I don’t want people to feel) Keep listening to your body & your instinct, these are powerful tools in building a resilient body & mindset so trust them.

As Aristotle so wisely said ;

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

Most of us will never be excellent but perhaps the Practice is where the true potential lies.



Seraphina Pilates

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