Understanding embodiment and how to encourage your students towards a body positive attitude in their Pilates practice.

Mermaid & Side Plank Variation

It happens nearly every class. I like to take the temperature of the room…. I ask questions when the students start to arrive and my favorite one is:

How is your BODY feeling today?

I know this is a loaded question. The answers I usually get range from:

That last one always gets me. I hurts my heart. It brings up so much body negativity. How do we as teachers respond? Encouragement and positive body experiences.

“Experiences of strength in our bodies, feeling the movement that we make in space can influence the way we feel about our bodies.”, Jen Hatmaker book: Fierce, Free and Full of Fire, pg. 47 – quote from Hillary McBride 

“Our mind and our body are intricately interwoven, and together are all parts of who we are.  This is why when we don’t like our bodies we feel badly about ourselves.  Or when we feel really powerful in our bodies, we feel really powerful in ourselves.  If our identity is just as much our bodies as it is our minds and thoughts, then we can use our bodies to help us experience power in a way that is just as important to the self as having thoughts and ideas or words that make us feel powerful.” Hillary McBride

“This is called “embodiment” and essentially you don’t just hate or love your body as it looks, but you enjoy being in it.” Jen Hatmaker – pg. 47

How the student feels about their body matters.

If they hate their body, and harvest a spirit of dislike it will infect their practice.  As a teacher you can help them by encouragement.

Here are some of the positive affirmations I speak over my clients:

You are so strong, your body is equipped, you are beautiful

You are present in your body

You are connected

You can tap into the body’s power at anytime

You are capable of anything

Listen to the movement – experience how it feels – enjoy it, be challenged by it, let it be playful, what did you learn?

How does your body need to be supported today?

How do you let go and begin to open your heart center, find your breath and choose to be free from burden?

Feel the sense of light and openness in your practice.

Breath deeply  – every breath inhale strength and release what is not serving you

I see you and you are beautiful.  

Sometimes these affirmations come as positive cues during movement sequences. Have you used any of these with your students?

As for my personal journey; I am walking with my body, thanking her for allowing me movement each day, helping me recognize emotional pain that turns into physical manifestation in the body, I get to deal with the issue, head on.  She is always there for me, and will be with me to celebrate the journey of this life.  

Some days will offer challenges, and I will face them with self-compassion.  I know that I am strong, kind, loving, and my body allows me to feel all of these emotions.

I would love to learn more about how you are able to support, encourage your students creating a body positive studio atmosphere. Send me an email or post on this blog.


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