Mind, Body… Spirit?
Pilates Style|September - October 2019
Mind, Body…  Spirit?
Pilates is rooted in the mind/ body connection, but the spirit part often doesn’t get as much attention. While some argue that spirituality is irrelevant to the work, others believe it’s a key factor in maintaining a balanced body. Here, Pilates teachers share the spiritual practices that best support their Pilates regimen.
Amanda Altman


WHO: Gráinne O'Driscoll, a Pilates teacher in Dublin, Ireland

WHAT SHE DOES: Meditation, gratitude journaling, affirmations, yoga

HOW IT FOSTERS PERSONAL GROWTH: Meditation brings calm, and I find myself less reactive. Gratitude journaling helps me appreciate the simpler things in life, making me realize that these are the important things. Affirmations are things I would have been quite skeptical about in the past, but I find if you say something often enough you’ll believe it. Of course, they have also made me realize the negative things you tell yourself that can become entrenched; now I try to nip these in the bud!

WHY IT NURTURES HER PILATES PRACTICE: In Pilates, I’m more disciplined and more mindful about the movements and the breath. I’m also less likely to compare myself to others and less likely to self-criticize. Pilates has also given me body awareness, as well as strength and stability in the joints, which has helped greatly with those all-important balance poses in yoga.


WHO: Jenna Zaffino, a Pilates teacher in Chicago

WHAT SHE DOES: Mantra-based affirmations

HOW IT FOSTERS PERSONAL GROWTH: I try to include a mantra-based meditation each day, even if it’s just repeating my affirmation for a minute or two between clients. Working with human beings can be unpredictable, and it’s up to me to keep my mind-set moving in the right direction. Mantras help me shift away from thoughts and feelings that don’t serve me, allowing me to course-correct when things go awry.

WHY IT NURTURES HER PILATES PRACTICE: My belief is that everyone has the opportunity to create a relationship with a spirit of their own understanding. The use of mantra and affirmation helps me feel connected to a greater purpose—and not get caught up in the small stuff.


WHO: Lissa Michalak, a Pilates teacher in New York City

WHAT SHE DOES: Meditation, Chan Buddhism/ Shaolin Kung Fu

HOW IT FOSTERS PERSONAL GROWTH: The goal of my practice is to make everything a meditation; I try to bring awareness into everything in my life, which makes me want to set a better example for my clients and students, to inspire them to take the practice outside the studio.

WHY IT NURTURES HER PILATES PRACTICE: I feel that understanding your body better helps youtreat your body better. And when you are clear in your own body and movement, you can transmit that clarity to your students, just by being in that clarity yourself!


WHO: Katharine Jemmett, owner of The Studio @ksjbodycontrol in Reigate, Surrey, UK

WHAT SHE DOES: Practices Christianity

HOW IT FOSTERS PERSONAL GROWTH: My faith is my foundation of being, underpinning who I am and how I live. If I’m true and accountable to myself and consequently to my faith, I can be at peace with myself. If I am at peace with myself, I can love myself. If I can love myself, this love can spill forth as love for others.

WHY IT NURTURES HER PILATES PRACTICE: Being true and accountable to myself enables me to live in the now, with an openness to honestly deal with and manage life—and my practice—in all its fullness.


WHO: Kelly Roberts, owner of Beach Pilates and Wellness Studio in Bethany Beach, DE

WHAT SHE DOES: Journaling, mindfulness rituals

HOW IT FOSTERS PERSONAL GROWTH: I journal every day, writing down five things I’m grateful for. I also write down 10 goals/dreams/ambitions. My evening routine consists of self-care, prayer, gratitude and goal setting/inspiration. It allows me to find time for myself after busy days, to manifest the things I want for my life.

WHY IT NURTURES HER PILATES PRACTICE: They allow me to continue to build on my Pilates practice, and to have intention and set wellness goals. As a business owner and mom, I tend to put everyone else first. The journaling and other rituals allow me the headspace to really focus on myself and my needs, which I tend to put off.


WHO: Emma Jory, owner of ePilates Online; currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

WHAT SHE DOES: Ashtanga Mysore and Hatha yoga, follower of Thich Nhat Hanh [a Vietnamese Buddhist monk], Transcendental Meditation (TM)


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September - October 2019