|Pilates teaching - it's about awareness|
"Feel ..." This one instruction, followed by a reference to the body or gravity or rhythm, or space, is what really sparks the student to begin to understand Pilates. These type of instruction is called "sensory cueing" and requires a certain level of awareness in the student to be effective. The main thing is that the instructor has to have experienced the sensation themselves before they try to use this type of cue. Many times, I hear instructors giving sensory based cueing by "rote". In other words, they heard it said and have memorized it and say it reflexively when they teach. This doesn't work, and can even have the opposite effect by making the student less attentive for an "authentic" direction. An authentic cue is one that the instructor has felt and knows intimately within their own body. This embodiment of skill is what develops after training for years in the discipline.
Some of my favorite Pilates sensory cues are ones that get you to feel your spine lengthen or release. Drawing the tailbone longer away from the head creates more space in the lumbar spine and feels great when having to do leg extensions or swan extensions of the back. Cues that encourage releasing into gravity are also very nice in that they usually allow the student to relax unnecessary tension. Some teachers always teach with awareness, asking the student what they feel from a movement rather than directing their feelings. If the exercise is taught properly, it will reveal things to you that you only need to ask yourself "what am I feeling" when you do it. Pilates will never be boring if you look at it as an exploration of movement and leave your students open to discover new sensations of control, balance, flow, etc. This way you will always be teaching in the moment and feel more inspired every day as you see your students light up with awareness.