RAISING THE BAR WITH MODERN MOVEMENT SCIENCE EDUCATION: MEET INSPIRATIONAL YOGA AND MOVEMENT TEACHERS.
An Interview with Jenn pilotti
"As our understanding of the science of movement evolves, so, too, will the cueing of asana and how the physical aspects of yoga are used in a class setting".
Who is Jenn Pilotti?
Jenn, is a graduated of B.S. exercise science, physiology emphasis from U.C. Davis. She is she Owner of Be Well Personal Training in Carmel, CA. She has completed numerous post graduate courses in stress, pain science, journalism, and neuromuscular techniques and holds several certifications, including FRC MS, MovNat level I, GMB Trainer, DNS EXT, and NASM CES. Check the interview below with Jenn and get to know a little more about her, her practice and her teaching.
How did you begin in the movement/yoga culture?
- I began practicing yoga in 2004, frustrated with what I felt was a lack of quality movement in the fitness industry (I was and still am a full time personal trainer). It was obvious to me something was missing from traditional fitness programs; I hoped yoga would fill in the gaps. I quickly discovered something was missing from yoga, too, and it wasn’t until 2009 and a bit of internet searching that I began to realize there were other modalities that created ease, mobility, and strength in a three dimensional way that weren’t traditional fitness or traditional uphs. It would take another couple of years before I truly began studying these other modalities, but my eyes were, at least, beginning to open.
What impact has yoga/movement had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
- It’s made me more calm. Movement has taught me how to trust my body, notice my habitual tendencies, and tune in with myself. It’s made me feel more okay with life and not trying to control things (because many movement modalities are about trust; trust places control outside of the self. You trust the floor to catch you, you trust the person to lift you, and you trust the bar to hold you). It’s helped me learn focused attention and open monitoring. Movement has shaped the person I am today.
Who have you studied with?
- Back in my yoga days, I studied with several well known Ashtanga teachers. Tim Miller. Maty Ezraty. Chuck Miller, Kino MacGregor. I also studied with Jason Crandall, Tiffany Cruikshank, Kathryn Budig, and Coral Brown. Towards the end of my time on the mat, I studied with Tias Little through online courses and Jules Mitchell.
I have studied movement from a variety of people. Kellen Milad. Shira Yaziv. Jon Yuen. Shawn Mozen and Sara Clara. Sebastian Grubb. Ryan Hurst. Tom Weksler. Almog Loven. Marlo Fisken. Matan Levkowich. There are others who I’m sure I’m forgetting. I also have extensively studied Feldenkrais and Parkour through online resources. I am fortunate that I have been exposed to a variety of techniques and gifted teachers.
Why did you decide to start teaching?
- Lol, I don’t know if decide is the right word. I was asked to teach at our little cooperative yoga shala many years ago, in 2008. I felt like a fraud because of my lack of flexibility. I never felt like I was impressive enough to be a yoga teacher.
As I studied and learned more techniques, my comfort level teaching grew. I also realized a traditional yoga setting wasn’t for me, since I couldn’t stick to a traditional yoga class format. I wanted to teach asana as a skill and focus on the movements between the asanas, which wasn’t why people were coming to class. I still teach a yoga based class six times a year to US Navy Captains, but I am given freedom to present the material in whatever way I deem fit; I began teaching that class, too, because I was asked. I don’t actively seek teaching opportunities, they just seem to appear for me to explore.
Tell me about your school/training/ courses.
- I offer online courses for professionals who want to take their teaching to another level about subjects such as cueing, hypermobility, or coordination of a specific area of the body. I also offer online courses that are geared more towards anyone that wants to learn. These courses focus on specific skills, such as pulling, or awareness of a specific body part, like the pelvis. I also teach webinars and in person workshops, where students are given time to experience and integrate the concepts in an environment that asks students to be open minded and work outside of their comfort zone, just a little bit, in a playful way.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga/movement journey?
- I would tell someone just starting out that while it is tempting to jump from training to training, learning as much as possible, stick with one concept for a while. Learn it well. Then, move on to the next thing. I find students are often paralyzed with so much information, they don’t know how to apply the concepts, or what movements are “right” or “wrong” in specific settings. It’s much easier to understand where different philosophies and training fit if you know the fundamentals well.
I would also encourage people just starting out to spend time each week working on movements and concepts alone, with just their memory and their understanding as their guide. To truly embody movement concepts requires practice and learning. Part of learning is being a little bit uncomfortable as you struggle with remembering and applying what you the ideas you have been exposed to with your own body. If the goal is to teach, this personal practice and struggle will prove invaluable.
What is the philosophy you try to transmit in your teaching?
- The philosophy I try to transmit is the mind and the body aren’t separate. As a result, there is a time for strength and power; there is also a time for softness and ease. Being able to feel and experience these two extremes enables a practitioner or student to find balance.
What was one of your most profound moments in teaching?
- I don’t really have one specific instance stood out as profound, though the evolution of teaching was interesting—I remember the moment I finally realized, “I know some things. It’s okay that I’m standing up here, creating an opportunity for people to explore movement.” Self confidence has never been a strength (that could be an Instagram challenge on its own).
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
- I think the realization that yoga doesn’t satisfy all of the requirements for fitness has been challenging for the community as a whole. The true movement community is still fringe; while it’s becoming more mainstream, it’s not as widespread as yoga (my clients think nothing of 2x4s, hanging apparatuses, clubbells, lots of floor space, and different tools I use for game play. Whenever they work out on their own at a “regular” gym, they come back and tell me all of the things the gym didn’t have that they use with me, including floor space for crawling patterns and movement). What yoga looks like and how yoga classes are taught is being challenged, which causes a bit of an identity crisis. It will be interesting to see how things progress with time.
What do you see influencing or affecting yoga teachers and students in the next five years?
- Yoga will continue to be influenced by other disciplines until it finds a new “normal.” As we get further away from the people who introduced modern yoga (specifically, Iyengar and Jois), the asanas and how they are put together will evolve. As our understanding of the science of movement evolves, so, too, will the cueing of asana and how the physical aspects of yoga are used in a class setting.
What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?
I went to a yoga retreat with my husband 8 years ago. We were spending a week with 40 other students with a senior Ashtanga teacher we had met once. We arrived and noticed other people were setting up their mats in the practice room, even though practice wasn’t scheduled to begin for a few more hours. Not wanting to be left out (or to have a bad spot), we got our mats out and looked around for a spot. “Let’s go here,” my husband said.
“Are you sure?” I asked, surveying the room. If I were teaching, the place he wanted the mats is the place I would consider the front.
“Yes,” he said. “This is definitely the back.”
When it was time for practice, we weren’t just in the front, we were front and center, awkwardly so, like two overly excited school children. Needless to say, we moved our mats for the next practice, and I’ve learned to wait to set my mat out until I know what the teacher considers the front.
Check out Jenn´s Instagram and her website if you want to know more about her online courses and upcoming events!