As I move further away from time spent in Los Angeles, a new sense of freedom has emerged. It’s probably the clean, crisp air that’s making me feel both grounded and open, evidenced by the ease with which I practice Pilates, because I know I did not experience this type of expansion living in LA. The funny thing is, my move to Sonoma has become more than just teaching Pilates to a new and appreciative audience; it’s invited me to reclaim my whole self. My lungs feel healthier, my stress level is much lower, and it’s so apparent how a smog-filled big city and hurried life can impede the process of practicing deep Pilates. And I can report with certainty that the mental grit and grime has also lost its hold.
However, the excitement my new students are showing for classical Pilates motivates me to share a few memories of Romana Kryzanowska both in New York and Los Angeles. What a great feeling to share those memories and to know how fortunate I was to learn from and be around Joseph Pilates’ main disciple. Two compliments she gave me regarding the way I practiced Pilates, I still hold very dear. During a Romana workshop, I was as usual working extremely hard, and was aware that she was watching me. She moved quietly to my side and whispered, “You’re doing real Joe, now,” and I could hear the pride in her voice. Those five unforgettable words totally lit me up, especially because I’d never heard her say them to anyone before. Another time during a continuing education class, she told me that I practiced Pilates with great rhythm and that was music to my ears as I continually teach my students the importance of transitions and the innate rhythm in them.
Romana gave me a new level of confidence in my own innate rhythm because one surprising bonus of moving north is I have ventured off the reformer, (after my workout, of course) and into a weekly drum circle where I’ve fallen for the Djuns and Tongue drums. Understanding the importance of practicing Pilates with rhythm can help in other areas of life, whether it’s music, sports or even cooking. There is a rhythmic universal heartbeat that’s available if time is taken to listen. I’ve listened, and a new Sonoma path has opened – it includes hiking, drumming and the opportunity to soar.