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Re-Defining Core: Is Your "Powerhouse" Partnering or Fighting with Gravity?

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Updated February 04, 2013

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Core... from the Body's Perspective
Pilates Reformer Twist

Marcos Apodaca Cultivating Twist on the Pilates Reformer

(c)2012, Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle, licensed to About.com

I studied with first-generation Pilates Elders, beginning with Romana Kryzanowska and then over the years with Kathleen Stanford Grant, Mary Bowen, Ron Fletcher and Lolita San Miguel. My studies have shown me the diverse ways Joseph Pilates taught each of these inspiring teachers. These elders tell us that Joe never spoke about anatomy; rather, he implored students to "use [their] whole body". And yet, we in the fitness community have primarily focused on a static muscle/bone anatomy paradigm of muscles working in isolation.

In doing so, we have come to believe that "core control" results from accessing and contracting the abdominals. I suggest that this view of core, as an isolated group of muscles, keeps us locked into a static perspective. We, then have nowhere to go but to do something "to" the body. We are distanced from really listening and moving with the body, in other words, embodying the movement. Our orientation is either effortful as we fight gravity (overusing compensatory muscles), or effortless as we partner with gravity by allowing each structure -- each system, tissue, and cell to play an important role in shaping our movement, and with that quality of movement, our consciousness.

Over my 40 years of teaching, I have come to deeply appreciate the innate intelligence of the body and have learned to listen to its messages. Out of this deeper listening, I developed the 3-CoreConnections Perspective; not as some new concept or belief system, but as in inquiry into what is core… from the body's perspective.

When I learned to honor the deep intelligence of the body by slowing down, discovering and noticing what is happening, my practice and teaching became ongoingly more rewarding and nourishing. Suspending my attachment to how I had previously understood "the core" opened a door, giving me a profound access into how the body works, from a whole person perspective, in relationship with the earth's gravitational field. Sensing this relationship enables us to know ourselves on a deeper level and to be self-healing.

Next, A Shift in Focus

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