5 reasons why I’m excited to teach Yoga Tune Up®…


Last September, after 7 intense in-class days, a 7 page test, an essay (which is now on the Yoga Tune Up® blog), and a mountain of context grids and anatomy homework, I became a Licensed Yoga Tune Up® Practitioner.  Here I am a year later still stoked to be part of this community of movers and shakers. Here’s a few reasons why this is awesome for me, but more importantly, for my students:

1.  It’s eye-opening: As Yoga Tune Up® founder Jill Miller often says, this practice reveals our body’s “blind spots.” These might be areas where we are weak or restricted, but very often they are places that we just can’t quite feel. Being able to actually sense your body is one big step forward in learning how to appreciate your body.

2. It’s great for every body: How many practices do you know that are actually built upon fine tuning each pose for the individual practicing it? Take the seemingly simple Downward Dog. This a pose you might encounter 20 (million) times in a regular Vinyasa class as you flow from plank to high lunge to standing and back again. For some lucky people this might feel great, but for those of us with tight shoulders and hamstrings, it’s hardly a resting pose. Instead of treating Downward Dog as a mere linking pose, a Yoga Tune Up® class will break it down into manageable pieces that will deepen your strength and mobility. Or as one of my students said after class, “My shoulders are tired, but feel loose.” Tired – meaning she worked hard, but loose, meaning free and comfortable. And that’s ultimately my goal as a teacher – to get my students to work hard in a way that makes them feel great.

3. It’s seriously playful. Does your practice involve poses called “Propeller Arms” or “Dancing with Myself”? Do you get to “Body Surf” around the studio on a blanket? It’s not that I think that fun is better than serious, but I love how mixing the irreverent with the sacred making for some great learning and a great time.

4. It’s not just about yoga: Even though it’s called Yoga Tune Up®, the principles of this practice make it applicable to almost any movement modality. Good alignment is good alignment. I came to this training as a Pilates teacher with a so-so personal yoga practice, but I take what I learned in this training into every session and class that I teach – whether I’m teaching a private, a large group class, or even just myself.

5. The Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls: If you’ve heard about Yoga Tune Up® before this blog, you know why I’m saving the best for last. These grippy, pliable rubber pain erasers help you massage away layers of tightness and soreness from your own muscles and joints. It’s not just that the various sizes help target each area of the body so precisely that makes these balls amazing, it’s that they put your body care back into your own hands (or feet). Jill Miller put it best: “Self-care is the new health care.”


Curious to try out this practice for yourself, check out my current class schedule. See you on the mat!


New Day, New Time: Semi-Private Pilates at Satori

Hey Pilates peeps!

My Semi-Private Pilates Mat Class at Satori is rocking over to Tuesday and Thursday starting August 20th.  The time will also shift from 12 to 12:15.

I know, so many changes — but this means no class cancellations on holiday weekends (yay!) and more open changing rooms to make your transition from work to class and back again, easy and efficient.

Photo by Alli Novak, May 2010

Grasshopper by Alli Novak, May 2010

What stays the same? My personal blend of humor, nuance, and deep body knowledge applied to the Pilates method, the super small class size (no more than 6 students) and all the personal attention that comes with it. You’ll explore your body through movement and leave class feeling longer, stronger, and more energized.  Sign up online here or call (415) 618-0418 to book your spot.

Ode to the Mighty Wunda Chair

The Wunda Chair is small, but mighty.

Like all of the other large Pilates apparatus, you can exercise on the Wunda Chair while sitting, lying on the back, belly, or side, standing, and weight bearing into the arms. The difference? A matter of size. With the small dimensions of the Wunda Chair –  even lying down becomes an act of defying gravity.

Need a visual? Here’s some awesome vintage (1936!) footage of Joseph Pilates himself and a few of his star students enjoying a sunny afternoon with the Wunda Chair:

Curious to try for yourself? Book a session with me here.

Intentional, practical magic: A 3-step process for the New Year.

1. Set an intention.

2. Establish a practice around your intention.

3. Experience the magic.

Photo by Alli Novak, 2010

Photo by Alli Novak, 2010

This is not a new idea. In his book, Return to Life Through Contrology, Joseph Pilates himself wrote “Physical fitness can neither be acquired by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.” Yet, even if I were to only do the 34 mat exercises prescribed in Return to Life – I wouldn’t call this method an “fitness routine.”

To me, and countless others who are trained in this method, it is a practice. Like yoga and bodywork, therapy and medicine. To reap the greatest benefits – whether you want a flat stomach or a pain-free back – it requires deliberate attention and intention.  It’s the art of making every movement meaningful, not just in the hour-a-week you spend on the Mat or a Reformer, but all the time. How you sit in your office chair, how you walk between the TV and the fridge.

This probably sounds exhausting, but with consistent, deliberate practice, the magic (a.k.a. results) often just happens. The day will come when you realize your back doesn’t hurt after a long day at work or you’re able to balance perfectly on one leg on a ball.

In the end, I think this is why Joseph Pilates called his method “Contrology” – the art of control. Taking responsibility for one’s physical fitness with a regular practice. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013.

“Cue-tie”: Eyes in the back of your head

Greeting Pilatistas!

I’m starting a collection of my favorite cues and images, aka “Cue-ties,” to help you get the most out of your Pilates practice, both in and out of the studio. Enjoy!

This week’s “cue-tie” is unapologetically stolen from the illustrious Madeline Black. I had the privilege of attending her Pilates for Scoliosis course at Pilates on Tour last month and this little nugget is just one of the many I picked up at the conference.

Look out through the eyes in the back of your head. 

In our culture of computers, smart phones, books, television, etc. it’s a not surprising that the forward head posture has become pandemic. As a Pilates teacher, it’s literally my job to help people bring their bodies back into balance, so I’m always looking for new ways to coax my clients out of this posture.

What I love about this image is that not only does it align their posture, but it also shifts their focus to a more body-mind directive. Less analytical and more experiential. A place where they can let the natural intelligence of their body lead the movement.

Even better – it’s not specific to Pilates. Try looking out through the eyes in the back of your head next time you’re in front of your computer (i.e. right now) and see if you can’t sit up a little taller and easier.