connective tissue

ZEN•GA 101

by Leslie Braverman on December 17, 2015

“There’s an exciting ZEN•GA™ hum in the studio. We’re committed to merging fascial science with movement that targets and refreshes fascia, the body’s intricate connective tissue system, in a method of serene, focused, mindful awareness.” —Katherine Brown, STOTT PILATES and ZEN•GA Instructor Trainer.

 

What is ZEN•GA?

Fascia is fascinating scientists, movement teachers and medical therapists. The elastic, connective tissue that once merely obscured medical examination of the circulatory system, bones, joints, and organs is now recognized as an important key to how we move, function, and thrive within our skin.

Flow Picture

The four principles of ZEN•GA’s mindful movement are Breath, Support, Yield and Flow.

Created in 2012 by the team behind STOTT PILATES (the gold standard for professional Pilates education), ZEN•GA is a fresh method of teaching a person to move, concentrating on feeling and “seeing” movement within the whole body, holistically. Releasing tightness. Extending reach and range. Emphasizing the embodied mind.

ZEN•GA classes frame the emerging science of fascial lines with ancient traditions of heightened states of mindfulness during movement—in other words, optimal function through fluid, sequential movement.

 

ZEN•GA Breath

If you’ve practiced Pilates for a while then you’ve learned how important breath is. ZEN•GA expands the definition of optimal breathing, and defines additional tools to unlock better breathing practices.

Rather than teaching choreographed breath patterns, ZEN•GA tailors breath technique to infuse vital, visualized energy into both global and fine movements. Nothing should feel forced, strained or static. We use the breath—and fine-tuned, eloquent visual imagery and cues—to maintain heightened mindfulness to keep energy flowing.

 

ZEN•GA Support

The support principle refers to alignment, or good posture.

Good Pilates teachers work hard to make sure exercises are performed with good alignment. However, every one of us has witnessed clients who executed excellent form and beautifully functioning bodies finish class, grab their shoes, and dash out of class just as slumped, tucked or crooked as when they walked in. It’s frustrating and puzzling!

ZEN•GA supplies the missing link to help clients fully integrate good movement principles into their daily lives.  It ignores “perfect” posture as a collection of rules to follow—a set of boxes to check off. Instead, ZEN•GA encourages organic discovery to find what good alignment means to each person, within their body, by experiencing and understanding their own bodies more deeply.

 

The differences in moving and sitting still deeply affects our fascia. ZEN•GA works to associate glitch-free movement with calm recognition. I compare this to the difference between silk—and a rough dryer sheet!—Katherine Brown

ZEN•GA Yield

The yield principle is about achieving that perfect balance between work and rest, push and pull, tension and ease.

As we go about our daily tasks we recruit an appropriate level of work from our muscular system—enough to get the job done without rigidity or excess tension. This is something that your muscles typically do on their own without your executive function getting involved. The process fails, with destructive results, because of habitually doing too little, or too much.

ZEN•GA encourages a dynamic relationship between individual body segments based on fascial lines, and then expands the concept to the relationships between body and its environment. It is exciting for ZEN•GA teachers see our clients feel their bodies as one holistic system, and that A-Ha! moment when they begin to unlock their movement potential.

ZEN•GA Flow

The principle of flow is mastery of the first three principles. It goes like this:

  1. Optimize breath
  2. Find supportive alignment
  3. Access dynamic yield both within the body—and with the environment— to
  4. Achieve the fluid harmony of flow

Flow is that moment. You know it. You’ve probably felt it in Pilates or the sweetest golf thwack—when everything lines up just right. In harmony. Each part of your body supportive of the others in precisely the way intended. You feel strong and capable, yet light, balanced, and easy at the same time. These are moments of breakthrough or personal best. Wouldn’t it be amazing to achieve that kind of flow on a regular basis?

Practicing ZEN•GA is all about inviting positive change, rather than forcing it, and awakening your natural intelligence with guided insights.

On June 3, 2018 I’ll double dip into ZEN•GA Full Body Integration and ZEN•GA Lower Body Focus. Will you join me to discover your inner ZEN•GA?

Katherine Brown, Certified ZEN•GA Instructor, Certified STOTT PILATES Instructor Trainer

 

Pacific NW Pilates is Portland’s finest Pilates resource for personal fitness and therapeutic Pilates.  The studio specializes in customized fitness instruction by 24 fully certified, talented and experienced instructors.

Pacific NW Pilates Education is a STOTT PILATES licensed training center, and offers a full range of professional career education courses and continuing education workshops throughout the year.  

Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.

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