23
Jan

A New Dawn: The Divine Feminine
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
~John Lenon

After witnessing the extraordinary display of passion and purpose around the globe for womenkind and our rights–really for all human rights, announcing our strength to the new (you’ll excuse the expression) President, I thought I would offer up some writing –an excerpt I wrote last year from my upcoming Harper Collins release, Waking Energy …. because all of Waking Energy is about the energy of love.

And when you come from love, anything is possible …

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I feel like singing Imagine right now. Though we have started to wake up in fundamental ways, we have a long way to go. The utter insanity of humanity and the destruction and violence we have wreaked against nature, one another, our wild life, and our natural world provokes rage inside me, and brings me to tears. Our continued unconscious actions threaten life on this planet. We have arrived at a place where the wounds of this conflict are a reflection of our individual and collective disconnection from the very source of all life.

We are being called into an era of conscious evolution, to collectively heal the discord and disharmony and to reconnect to ourselves and each other, to actively participate in creating a new earth, centered in the awareness of our inherent oneness— to finally acknowledge that we are connected with all that is.
In order for us to heal ourselves and the planet, we need to honor the Divine Feminine energy of creation—Gaia, the Goddess of earth, our connection to love, to nature, the source of creation and life itself. Oracle and insight, wisdom, intuition, love, the Divine Feminine is the force of love and unity that flows within our individual and collective psyche, male and female alike.
In early history, people of the earth revered the Goddess. They celebrated a heart centered and vibrant connection to nature and their bodies, enjoying rich creativity and a pouring forth of light and love. Even during the Dark Ages, the ancient wisdom traditions, from Tantra to Taoism rejected formal, puritanical missives, always opening new doors, inviting women to share their expansive knowledge, often deferring to them, studying under their tutelage, and above all, honoring them for their intuition, insight and strengths. Recognizing themselves in one another, with the Taiji, female and male co-creative energies of the universe, responsible for all life—the yin-yang balance an ever-presence in their consciousness and the way they lived their lives, they made no class distinctions between their own male and female aspects. Seeing them as separate parts of a greater whole, they sought to abolish derisive differences, and instead embraced their mutual gifts, profiting in ways their Western counterparts could never imagine.

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23
Mar

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When I first read Joseph Pilates’ Return to Life, the line that stopped me in my tracks was “Decide to remain true to yourself.” To me, this statement encapsulates the very essence of The Method.

There is an unparalleled feeling when you do the work and feel it in your own body. When you show up for yourself,  you experience a kind of euphoric high that simultaneously makes you feel lighter than air and grounded, confident and powerful. You feel this way, because when you move your body intelligently, allowing the breath to illuminate the path ahead, you enliven and awaken the spirit. You feel lighter because you become more enlightened, more conscious, more sentient!

It comes from a commitment to yourself and the practice of following through, so that you can be your very best.

When you honor yourself and do the work, you are rewarded. You are left with a feeling of magic brewing … you are reminded of what it feels like to be truly alive! When you dedicate yourself consistently to a ritual of self-love, it entitles you to a lifetime of learning and upward-spiraling excellence, not only in body and mind, but in spirit—how on any given day, even when you’re feeling tired or low, meeting yourself exactly where you are with lovingkindness and appreciation is how you’ll invite your body to partner with you in your daily excursions and help you rise to your own occasion— to be true to you!

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Don’t you think it’s time that this joyful feeling of self-fulfillment be yours?

Time to rise to your own occasion and make yourself proud. When you commit to being your best, you inspire the same in others–hence the origins of “living by example … ” This superlative interconnection between the self and the world at large, particularly our trusted intimates, provides everyone who chooses to notice the connection– with a mirror. When movement springs from a place of knowing and experience, like the truth itself, it can be passed along in that same spirit of purity, dynamism and inspiration. Executed with finesse, vim and vigor, even the simplest gesture tempts the onlooker to want to move in the same way! Why? Because it’s magic. You’ve turned it on and it’s irresistible.

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24
Jan

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Fear. Loneliness. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Hopelessness. Despair.

Alongside what I still believe is my life-embracing, joyful essence, and moments of uplift from my own inner flame and the love of a few dear friends and family, I’ve been surfing these treacherous waves for the past two years.

We know that Pilates is one of the finest ways to sculpt a beautiful and powerful body, but what about our spiritual selves? What about the life inside that body? What about its truly profound effects on the mind and the spirit?

When I was asked to participate in Mark Pedri’s exceptional film, A Movement of Movement a few years ago now, I spoke about how Pilates had created his method between two world wars as a means to survive life’s twists and turns and hard knocks and to rise above them and thrive. Little did I know then that I would be fighting on my own battlefield not so long after, going into one of the darkest, deepest caves of my life.

Pilates never intended for his method of physical and mental conditioning to be a vanity exercise system. He devised it to help us navigate this human life through the body. It was meant to help us evolve and appreciate ourselves, to make the most of our miraculous machines—body, mind and yes, to enliven–to literally LIFT our spirits.

Yes, undeniably, Pilates can help you to create a body you can be proud of, but in the bargain, it can also save your life.

In January, 2014, I found myself atop a slippery slope and by mid-summer, I had slid into hell. Flying solo in a new city, my mother, who had fought her brave battle with multiple myeloma long enough, decided on July 18th that it was time to leave this world.  To say that I was heartbroken and traumatized doesn’t come close. I was beside myself—literally. Exhausted from the rapid fire, cataclysmic shifts in my life,  from having to grasp how to travel this new terrain, each day, I awoke feeling like I didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. Every rug had been pulled out from underneath me, and while I had a full toolkit, an arsenal of techniques to pull from, I had become so accustomed to sharing them with others, that in some way, it felt like I had forgotten how to redirect that rich water flow back to myself.  Read the rest of this entry »

02
May

Workout. That’s what I want to know.

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When was the last time you worked out and felt so damn amazing that you felt like you had to shout it from the rooftops to even come close to teleporting that singular feeling to the world?
In honor of Pilates Day, this is my homage to the gift that Joe gave the world: The work.
In order to really honor yourself–that miraculous body of yours, move it! Flex and extend it, twist it, cajole it, whisper to it, laugh with it, applaud it, and above all, work it out! Partner with it. It’s yours, and its the only one you got in this life as we know it. It is your house, your true home. So honor it by keeping it happy, and it, will in turn, serve you!
I am often stunned when I teach at large venues and I open the floor for questions, and sadly, one of the most popular I am asked,  is “How do I keep from getting bored, burned out?” And I say I am stunned, because people, if you do the work, if you actually workout and taste the juice, that manna from the Gods at least three to five times a week, and I mean working yourself so well and so hard that you break a good sweat and feel like you kick your own A___, with YES, a capital “A,” then boredom and burnout? Be damned I say. Those are two sorry visitors who will never come a calling again.

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And when I say “break a good sweat,” what I am really saying is, humble yourself. Each and every time. Push yourself out of the nest, outside your comfort zone, beyond your preconceived limits. Let me put an earth-shattering concept before you: What if when you tried something it didn’t look perfect? Would that be okay? What if you stopped worrying for a minute what it looked like and just abandoned yourself to the sheer joy of moving?

I have news for you: You will feel so incredibly proud and fulfilled after trying something that scares you when you pull it off! And that, that’s the magic stuff that builds on itself. (That’s one of the best kept secrets of the work, until you actually start doing it  …) When you give yourself permission to make mistakes and to be human, you know what happens then? You surprise yourself. And more importantly, you feel ALIVE! You return to life. Every. single. time.
And your teaching? Oh man, look out. Because you are evolving through challenge, through this self-imposed adversity, you know that clean, hard work is what your body responds best to, and you then can’t wait to pass it on exactly the same way to your clients! You’re ON FIRE.  And you will know with fairly impressive accuracy what they will be feeling as you make them do an extra ten reps of “knees-off” on the reformer– GRATEFUL, oh so grateful and ALIVE!
And so, on Pilates Day, one of my favorite days of the year, this is my charge to you:
Get on that reformer and do yourself proud. Hop on the chair and try the pull-up with one arm, or going up side, but whatever you do, do it with gusto and work hard in the way Joe intended you to … sign up for a class or a workshop that intimidates you, that you think you’re not ready for … take a risk. Be rewarded. Surprise yourself.
And then the next time I see you, tell me how it’s working out for you–those issues with boredom and burnout.

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No, really, I mean how is it, working out?

___________

Integrated wellness, fitness and lifestyle expert Jennifer Kries is an internationally renowned mind-body-spirit innovator, credited with being the first to bring Pilates, and The Method, the groundbreaking synthesis of Pilates, Yoga and Dance to a mass audience. Her award-winning videos, The Method Series, Jennifer Kries DVDs, and Fit TV’s The Method Show, revolutionized the fitness community and started the explosive wave of enthusiasm for Pilates and mind/body exercise. Her approach to fitness and wellness is unsurpassed. Jennifer brings unmatched clarity and an extraordinary perspective to her teaching. Jennifer has inspired countless readers, practitioners, graduates of her programs, and viewers alike to embrace her all-encompassing philosophy of movement, art, health, life and energy. Through her inspiring work, she leads people to experience a joyful connection to themselves and to their essential aliveness. Students tap into a reserve of power, clarity and freedom like never before. Her attention to detail, superb teaching style, artistry, and knowledge of Eastern healing techniques makes her one of the most highly sought-after mind-body teachers today.

Catch Jennifer at one of her upcoming workshops in San Francisco, San Diego and Oceanside, California this spring/sumer 2015, or work with her in your own home with her award-winning Pilates Method Master Trainer Series, “The definitive companion guide and one of the most exceptional practice and teaching resources on the market for Pilates devotees and professionals.”

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25
Nov

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In honor of Thanksgiving, which is fast approaching, I know that you’re all buzzing around and collecting your goods for the big feast. And while the feast itself can be delightful when spent in the right company, preparing for it can be very stressful.

I’m here to supply you with a pick-me-up that will get you ready for the fray!  Nothing like a good Pilates exercise to serve as the perfect outlet for some of that nervous holiday energy, right?! Can’t think of anything better than the Open Leg Rocker to remind you of your ability to literally “roll” with the punches while you’re doing battle in the lines at Whole Foods!

This little Pilates wonder not only strengthens your core the way every exercise in the Classical Pilates Mat work series does, but let’s talk turkey (couldn’t help myself) –it also sparks the baby monkey inside you, your kid self that just wants to roll around on the floor, go upside-down, scream and yell to your heart’s content and have someone else cook your Thanksgiving dinner!

In all seriousness, it’s a great reminder to have fun while you’re dealing with the grown-up stressors of life.

Adding to this burgeoning list of benefits,  in just a few repetitions, your entire spine and surrounding muscles get a deep massage, stimulating your cerebral spinal fluid, which calms your central nervous system. Add to this, that your will and determination, as well as patience and fortitude are all invited to this party, because the only way you can successfully rock back up to a balance is by calling upon a high-level focus of mind, and selectively recruiting the muscles you need to execute the movement.

But the very best part of the Open Leg Rocker? When you do it, you look like a harvest “Horn of Plenty!” And by virtue of the very shape you create with your body (like a human letter in the Erte alphabet) you feel grateful for all of the bounty you have in your life, and the gifts you are going to enjoy come this Thursday!

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Bet you’ll never look at The Open Leg Rocker in quite the same way after this … and for that alone, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful.

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14
Aug

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Did you know that there is no separation between the mind, the emotions and the body?

Grief has found its way into my lungs, and I am sick with the worst chest cold I have had in years. In some strangely comforting way, it is affirming to know that while we are vulnerable to the sometimes extreme vicissitudes of life, if we can survive the trauma that we experience, we then may also have the power to decide how we meet them, what we do with them, and how we evolve as a result.

My beloved Mother left this earth on July 18th and is now peacefully soaring with the angels, magnificent swallow that she is, exquisite and intentional, swooping and gliding, buoyed aloft by purest love and the light of infinite stars. Like a beautiful bell, music itself, her voice, her laughter, her bright eyes, her face tilted up smiling to receive the sun … radiant with excitement, introducing one soul to another, the grand connector and brilliant creatrice, glowing pearl, shining light, elixir of life! This is how we will remember her–these ways and countless more. The people who knew her were each forever changed for the better, their lives and their very selves magically illuminated by knowing her, truly blessed to have been touched by her singular, other-worldly magic as long as they had, and I know that she will be with us always. No language can express the power, beauty, heroism, and majesty of my Mother, Jane’s joyful love, its radiance, quenchless fidelity like a star.

Her innate, all-encompassing, boundless joy for life, her strength and her indomitable spirit lives on inside me and my family. Endlessly brilliant, insatiably curious, multi-talented, magnetic, beyond generous, compassionate, kind, inventive, creative, intuitive, insightful, inventor, idea-maker, entrepreneur, writer, poet, accomplished pianist, voracious reader and lover of the earth, nature, history, and all things beautiful, exceptional tennis player, talented designer, seamstress, baker, champion of the wrongfully accused and underprivileged, powerful catalyst for social change, alchemist and connector of souls, teacher of what it means to live life to the fullest in the spirit of sharing and love.

Jane sailed on July 18th, her perfect day, as it turns out, because in Judaism, “Chai,” the number “18” literally means “LIFE!” It is considered the luckiest number of Gematria, our mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters. Gifts are often given in multiples of 18, which literally signify the giving of life. It means to “enjoy the time we are all given on earth,” and is said at every celebration as a blessing acknowledging the anticipation of all the good things to come …  in her parting, this was the greatest gift she left behind, that of hope and joy, and this is where I draw my strength, knowing that she wants me to continue her legacy of love and celebrating life, no matter how painful it might become in moments.
Many of you have reached out to me to express how awestruck you are at my courage … please know that I don’t feel my courage. In moments, like a silent, steady heartbeat, I may feel the strength I have inherited from my ancestors, specifically from my maternal Grandfather and my Mother, both of whom were powerfully optimistic, “I will prevail,” kind of people, but make no mistake, I am suffering with agonies I have never felt until now, and the manifestation of these feelings is my very breath, or lack thereof.

After we lost Robin Williams this week, having suffered from suicidal depression myself in the past and survived by the grace of some inexplicable confluence of events, realizations and shifts— by some miracle, really … my heart, which was already cracked in two, started bleeding.

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29
Mar

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Over the past decade alone, yoga has exploded into a multi-million dollar industry. The latest “Yoga in America” study, released in 2012 by Yoga Journal shows that nearly 21 million Americans actively participate in yoga, with the majority of novice practitioners citing wellness, or “stress management” as their primary motivation for taking up the practice, to the tune of spending over $10 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations, and media. Some die-hard yoga devotees argue that as a byproduct of the boom and its growing popularity, many yoga institutions, rather than honoring its roots as a spiritual practice first, capitalize on the public’s demand for weight loss regimes and cater to it, rather than staying true to yoga’s original raison-d’etre. While Yoga was never intended to be a purely physical fitness regimen, and although our western world has cast it in that role, it turns out that yoga consistently asserts the efficacy of its original intent, as well as being a more formidable weight loss contender than you may imagine.

In spite of the fact that in many parts of the world, yoga has been reduced to more of a workout, specifically geared towards weight loss, especially heated vinyasa and Bikram yoga, what I found in my recent quest, was that in spite of humanity’s often single-mindedness, and its tendency, at times, to reduce something as richly- textured as yoga a lowest common denominator that serves their immediate need for instant gratification, because of the very nature of yoga and its inherent principles, people wind up getting a lot more than they bargained for, and exactly what the yoga sages of old intended for us future humans to glean.

Through each downward facing dog and warrior pose, whether practitioners know it or not, the message of yoga’s rich legacy is imparted, touching everyone from the moment they unroll their mat. They soon come to discover that not only can they in fact lose weight doing yoga, but just like the accidental tourist, who winds up finding one of the world’s seven wonders without a guidebook, the accidental yogi, if he or she is fortunate enough to practice with at least a marginally proficient instructor, and demonstrates consistency and dedication, one can actually reap myriad unforseen rewards, and discover the answers to one of life’s most elusive, complex and confounding mysteries– not just how to lose the weight, but how to keep it off.
My forays took me from my backyard in Southern California, all the way to the East Coast, where my own thoughts and instincts after practicing and teaching yoga for over 20 years, were not only confirmed, but corroborated. After interviewing yogis on both coasts, the resounding answer is, that if you really invest yourself, not only can you lose weight doing yoga, but you can get more than you would from almost any other modality that promises weight loss. You can get to the root of your inner burdens and self-sabotage, putting into practice one of yoga’s greatest gifts “letting go of what no longer serves you,” quite literally shedding unwanted pounds the way one would old luggage, and in the process, learn how to adopt a new lifestyle which holds the key to permanent change. Yoga offers something to the practitioner that few other modalities can–a potent combination of ancient science and self-mastery, tools that facilitate the self-reflection required to go to the very heart of the matter, to discover why you gained the weight in the first place and as they say in yoga-speak, how, in fact to literally let it go.

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13
Sep

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I have always thought of the combination of Pilates and Yoga as the perfect marriage.
Both are transformational, focused methods of movement that literally help you to “meet” yourself, to discover your capabilities and facilitate positive change in the body, mind and spirit. In my opinion, their differences complement one another in the best of ways. While Yoga is better known for its philosophical and spiritual components, Pilates also inspires spiritual evolution, but this aspect is not emphasized as much as the physical component; Pilates is known as a “workout,” and Yoga as a “practice,” however, the irony here, is that in order to get good at anything, we have to practice, and done correctly, both Pilates and Yoga are both a workout and a practice. And as you will see, both are worthy of your time and attention for innumerable reasons.

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Here’s a cool, little-known fact for many of you out there: Joseph H. Pilates, who invented the Pilates Method, studied yoga and most of the exercises you’ll see in a Pilates workout are inspired by yoga. The poses in yoga are incredibly similar to the shapes and positions of the body in Pilates exercises; the difference is that in yoga, one holds poses longer, and in Pilates, you move at a slightly faster pace. Rather than holding a pose longer the way you would in a yoga class, staying in one position and cajoling the body into stretching more deeply through the breath, in Pilates, the practitioner dynamically extends as far as possible into a greater range of motion within a limited amount of time using self-imposed isometric resistance, core awareness and breath.

Both Pilates and yoga are intended to cultivate greater awareness and connection between the body and the mind, which in turn, enlivens the spirit.
Both help us to focus on the process, the “journey” of moving, breathing and stretching, rather than the end goal, which can be anything from a stronger, well-toned body to peace of mind.
Both encourage you to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome; they are each regimes that promote consciousness, evolution and self-transformation, while helping you to accrue innumerable health benefits that arise from the specific combination of connecting conscious breath to movement.

The subtle magic of Pilates and Yoga is that the work grows as you do. You rise to higher levels of challenge as your self-awareness and experience deepen. As you gain insight and as your actual physical strength increases, the work refines and redefines itself.
Both are refreshing approaches that see our physical activity as a way to restore total oneness with ourselves and create harmony with our body, mind and spirit, and under this notion, exercise becomes the means to experiencing a personal potential greater than the physical skills themselves.

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23
Jan

‎”Accomplish what is in your heart!”

Happy, Prosperous New Year of The Water Dragon~ May this year be one of Great Blessings, Awakenings & Miracles~

Powerful energies are swirling around in the universe now- can you feel it? Change is happening, like water rushing over river rocks, fluid and inevitable.

Believe in yourself. Believe that anything is possible. Say YES to yourself. Say YES to your intentions, say YES and welcome it all!

May it be so~!

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15
Jan

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This morning I had a dream that I was sledding down the side of a snow-covered hill on my black Tumi backpack, and suddenly, a red-tailed hawk flew down from the sky, and came to light on my left arm. It was so unbelievable. I was so amazed. I can still feel my lips parted in awe that such a magical, spirit, such a wild, solitary, elusive bird had chosen to come to me in such a bold act of intimacy.

It was as if freedom itself had decided to come to me. And not only did it just float there on my arm, but it softly sank his beautiful talons into my flesh, gently holding on, knowing exactly how hard to press, accepting my warm breath on his beak. To see if it was real, I gently went to stroke his head, and he let me and spread his gorgeous wings of white and red in appreciation that I had chosen to reciprocate his intimate gesture with one of my own.

Even now, the feeling of lightness and warmth as big as the sky above, spreads across my chest, from deep within my heart center to his, this magnificent hawk; we were connected, united, and FREE!  What a joy, what a gift that dream was! I am still celebrating it … A message from above. I am still aglow from that moment when my eyes caught him and tracked his trajectory, incredulous that he was coming toward me –when I saw his wings beating in an upward draw, slowing his descent, as he floated down from the ethers, and chose me as his landing pad, a confidant to whom he could silently transmit the message: “Believe it. You are FREE.”

Trial by fire. Oh, and it is.

When I first found this image, I wanted to kiss the earth that I had located a visual depiction that managed to encapsulate the very feeling I have had over the past month. I feel like a stuntwoman walking away from a well-played crash scene, except the “scene” isn’t staged. It’s real. Never before has this conscious awareness of contrast between incarceration and liberty been as stark, as naked as it has been for me of late. And when I say this contrast- I am referring to the battle of black vs. white, shadow vs. sun that comes to dominate the grand stage of the mind. The duel to the death that happens when we entrap ourselves in the stories that we ourselves author, when we imprison ourselves in the cells we construct, when we fashion the very shackles that keep our feet well-fettered.

Rumi said it so well,  “You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?”

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