Pilates Teachers' Manual

Finding Your Flow State

September 15, 2022 Olivia Bioni Season 6 Episode 12
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Finding Your Flow State
Show Notes Transcript

Finding your flow state is my solution to feeling stuck in a rut, boredom, overplanning, and  being disconnected from your clients. Tune in to learn how the qualities of attention, intention, and invention changed my teaching game. 

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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.

[00:00:56] Hello. Hello everybody and welcome back to the [00:01:00] podcast. Today we're gonna be talking about finding your flow state. And what inspired me to make this episode today is I got a really beautiful compliment from a client. And they said that whenever they're doing Pilates with me, they feel like I'm in the present moment with them. And I thought that was a really beautiful and poetic thing to say. I knew exactly what this client was talking about and it's that flow state of teaching, which I hope you've experienced. 

[00:01:31] It's pretty cool. It is this state of being that has like perfect concentration. That's almost effortless on your part that you're totally attuned to what's going on in the class. You might say things like, oh, we were vibing or we're on the same wavelength. That's like every cue you give lands, every joke you make people laugh at. It seems [00:02:00] like time disappears. It's sort of a time paradox where you look down at your watch and you're like, oh my gosh, we've got like three minutes. Like let's do the other side. And we're, we're done our clients after class are like, oh my gosh, where did the time go? I feel like I just was lying on the reformer and now we're done. Just this total awesome awareness and like being in this current of energy, the transitions are really seamless. It just flows. It's your flow state. 

[00:02:29] I love being in the flow state because it requires the least amount of energy. It seems, it seems like it almost is invigorating. You don't have to give energy. It's like, you're just in that current. I see it as a solution to being in a rut. Like you can't be in a rut in your flow state, also boredom, like feeling like you teach a lot of the same stuff over and over again, which is totally not wrong, but it can potentially get boring and being in your flow state while you're teaching that simple [00:03:00] stuff is a great way to not be bored. And I also like the freedom that comes with going with the flow and that maybe you don't get to everything that you plan to teach, or maybe you thought you were gonna do some reverse planks and that's not on the table anymore, but it like almost doesn't phase you because you're just so in alignment with the people in your class, 

[00:03:24] Well, that sounds fantastic and I think that we would all love to be there ideally all the time. So what I'm gonna be talking about today is what I've defined as the three ingredients of the flow state. A lot of things that go into finding your flow state and some other contributing factors to the flow state, if you will.

[00:03:50] So I think that being in your flow state has three ingredients. And they're really cool. So you can say you heard it here first. I would say the three ingredients are [00:04:00] attention, intention and invention. Attention comes from something that I believe to be true, that several other teachers who have been guests on the podcast have shared, and that's this idea that our ability to see things as Pilates teachers is one of our greatest skills. That when people are in class with us, we can see what they're doing and it's a skill, just not being the person doing it. We have this outside perspective. We can see what's working. We can see what might be holding people back. I absolutely love having other teachers or colleague, friends, or even taking classes and having that teacher give me feedback on something they see me doing because they can just see more. Because they're not worried about doing the exercise, they're just watching me do it. 

[00:04:52] So our ability to really deeply look at what our clients are doing, like where are [00:05:00] they holding their breath? Where are they tensing? Like what's going on really? This, this focus, just this attention to this other person is so powerful. To be in your flow state where these things are flowing, they're flowing because you're seeing what your students are doing. And then you are reflecting challenges back to them. You're seeing where they can go a little bit further. You're seeing where they might need a little bit more support or a modification or another way of approaching something. And paying attention to what your clients are doing, even if it's something super simple, like footwork, even if it's something you've taught a million times, like the hundred that you could teach with your eyes closed. Teaching with your eyes open is, is really something awesome that we can offer and helps us get in the flow state, because we can't think about what comes next when we're looking at what's happening in front of us. It's like listening to listen [00:06:00] versus listening to respond. Like, we're not trying to have a response. We're just seeing what's going on. 

[00:06:07] I would say that being in your flow state is intentional in that to be there. You have to have a sense of openness, a sense of willingness to hold space for whatever's coming up in that person's body as they're going through exercises. You know, paying attention to their body language and you know, where do they get that frowny, game face? And where are things really easy? Where are they starting to lose their connection and sort of tune out to things? How can we, you know, direct their attention to the next task, to the next goal?

[00:06:41] And I think it's also this willingness to let your client guide you and to kind of, I don't wanna say throw away the roadmap necessarily like it's, it's good. And our knowledge, what we have, what we know about Pilates and the exercises is fantastic and we need that as [00:07:00] well. But we have to recognize that the best laid plan may not be the best for the person and by looking at them and seeing we can decide, you know, where are we gonna change things? Where are we gonna do different things? That openness, willingness to experiment, I think, and to try. 

[00:07:18] And that goes into the last one, which I'm calling invention. And that is using all of the incredible knowledge you have about the exercises ,about the body, about the psychosocial factors that might be contributing to this person today, you take what you know, and you try things. You know, we invent things. Joseph Pilates invented exercises, invented equipment. And, you know, if you've ever taught virtually and the client's like, oh, you know, I'm in a different house. And you're like, okay, well, do you have like a yoga block or a small box or a thick book or something? Like we think on the fly all the time. 

[00:07:59] We [00:08:00] invent exercises. It's like, well, maybe you don't have a reformer, but you have a resistance band and you can tie it to. I don't know the doorframe or something. I don't recommend doing that, but there are like doorframe attachments for things. And so you can make exercises happen based on what's available. We do that large scale for things like, oh, well, if you don't have an arc, then we can do it with a pillow or a foam roller or a bolster. But we also do that or we can do that. And I would argue, we do do that in the flow state when we see what people are doing and we just know where to push a little bit further. And so maybe they were doing an arm thing and they do something that's like kind of funky. And you're like, ah, well, let's explore that. Like, let's get deeper into that. 

[00:08:45] We start to use our client as the roadmap, like they are the roadmap. And I really think that you don't need to plan the cues to say, or even really the exercises to do [00:09:00] beyond like a really broad picture. You don't need to memorize any of that, because if you just look at your client, you'll see like, okay, what do we need to do next? Like, what is their body telling me? And also, what are they, the person, telling me when you check in and you say, Hey, how is this feeling? And they're like, I hate everything about this. Can we do something else? Yeah. It's like that too. 

[00:09:22] So those are, those are the three, I think, contributing factors, attention, intention, and invention. And especially invention. I think really speaks to this creative utopia of the flow state, where it's just like, I feel my most creative when I'm in my flow state, because I feel like my clients are in tune with me. They know how I teach. They know where we're going. We've set these goals together and then it really just becomes this playful exchange where time flies.

[00:09:55] Coming up after the break, I'll be talking a little bit more about other [00:10:00] foundational aspects of getting into that flow state and probably just share more about how awesome it is, because it's like, it's one of those things that like, once you experience it, you're like, oh, I would like to do that all the time, please and thank you. So that's coming up next.

[00:10:23] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaOodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.

[00:10:42] Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. [00:11:00] Now, back to the show.

[00:11:20] So the million dollar question, how do we achieve this awesome flow state? And I would say that one of the foundational pieces of it is the knowledge and training and experience that you have as a Pilates teacher. In order to be flexible and color outside of the lines, you have to be really, really knowledgeable about what's inside the lines. And you ideally have practiced it enough, have seen it enough in other people's bodies, in your own body that you get curious and you start [00:12:00] to explore, and that's how we get outside of the lines. But first we have to have the basic skills of teaching the knowledge of the exercises and the choreography and how to modify and all of those things. 

[00:12:12] And then once you have that foundation, which I would argue is also growing all the time. Like every class you teach, you're learning more about teaching. Definitely. But, you know, you have that foundation, you know what you know, but you also know that there's more than one way to do things and sometimes, you know, will have a modification for an exercise and it's like, or you can do this, but then you'll have a client who like, can't do that. Or the equipment that they're on, doesn't allow them to do that thing that you had planned. Like I've taken classes or taught classes where people have extender mats on their reformers that like cover their springs. And like, I don't have an extender amount on my reformer and it just makes how you do certain exercises, like how you [00:13:00] would modify certain exercises is just gonna be different based on different equipment.

[00:13:04] So you have this knowledge and then you can use what you know, to solve problems and that's takes a lot of practice as well. So you have all of that knowledge, all of your teaching experience. And that's just a lot of practice of teaching the same exercise a bunch of times, which- 

[00:13:25] It never ceases to amaze me that I'll think that I have like a really good cue for an exercise and it might be a really good cue, but then I'll say it to someone new and they'll just be confused and I'll have to think of another awesome cue because we've talked a lot about cuing on the podcast. And one of those things is that there is no perfect cue that works for absolutely everybody. But there are cues that work for more people than they don't work for. And so just through practice, you can sort of identify those crowd pleaser cues that people make sense of. They're not like too complicated. The imagery makes [00:14:00] sense. Cuz sometimes you'll be in a flow state and the imagery you come up with. You're like, I don't know how we got there, but I guess we're all melting ice cream cones or something. And uh, that's a new way to think about mermaid, you know, something like that. But just through practice, just through your experience teaching, you troubleshoot, you find the successful cues, the successful jokes, and then you keep those.

[00:14:22] And then in terms of teaching and being at ease with teaching and being in that flow state, you just have like a lot to draw on just because you've done a lot. I think a big piece of it is also taking care of yourself and being in a place where you can hold space, because that does take energy that does take practice. Things like getting a lot of sleep yourself and eating well and drinking enough water and just having the bandwidth to be with another person. 

[00:14:52] Because for me, again, I find it invigorating, especially in one-on-one sessions where I find myself really just like [00:15:00] vibing with a person, cuz it's also just one person to vibe with. I'm not trying to vibe with a room. Like I just have one person's energy to match. And just knowing that I've made time for myself to move that I've done my own practice, that, you know, I'm not skipping meals, cuz I'm trying to get more appointments in anything like that. I know I'm gonna be in a better place if I do that. 

[00:15:20] And even if I'm not my best self, that I'm still being really professional in leaving the things that are bugging me at the door so that I can be this. Maybe not a blank slate, but I can be this best version of myself for my clients. And that takes a little bit of practice, I think as well. Yeah, just being there for your clients to be this cheerleader, to be this set of eyes, to help them meet their goals.

[00:15:51] I would say that my flow states are often really simple stuff. Like it's not the fanciest wildest- [00:16:00] I'm working on high bridge on the reformer currently. And like not in flow state doing high bridge, but exercises that I'm really familiar with, that I really know inside and out. And then also working with clients that I know well. Like I recently started working with a newer client and they're absolutely lovely to work with, but I don't know their sense of humor yet. And I don't know if they're frowning because the exercise is hard or they're just really concentrating or they hate everything. Right. So I think also being familiar with the people that you work with, and they're also familiar with you helps you get on the same wavelength I'd say a bit faster. 

[00:16:42] I think being in a good head space, which for me, I actually find that I teach a lot more classes in the morning. So I usually teach before noon. I think that I'm a better human in the morning. Like just where my energy level is. I think I get a lot of stuff done and I'm really high energy in the [00:17:00] mornings.

[00:17:00] And then after lunch, I tend to like mellow out a bit, mostly because no teacher is teaching between like noon and two we're all, , we're all eating lunch, but you know, that's something I know about myself that it's like, I'm better when I'm like fresh out the gate, highly caffeinated, ready to go. And if you're listening to this and you're like, okay, but still that mythical flow state. 

[00:17:24] Ah, I wish I had a recipe. I tried to have a recipe. I had ingredients, but I think for you, it's also gonna be finding clients, finding classes, and really finding the joy in what you do, teaching the things that are interesting to you to begin with regardless of what your client's goals are. We all have our own way of relating to people and teaching and our game plan for getting from point a to point B. 

[00:17:53] And giving yourself permission to be the teacher you are, be the teacher you wanna be, [00:18:00] that you're not trying to parrot someone else's cues or someone else's lesson plan, but you are really doing you in the highest possible Pilates instructor way. That you are problem solving and relating to this other person and just doing your awesome stuff, but doing it in a way that's authentic to you. That really feels like you. 

[00:18:25] I'm an introverted person and interacting with people can be tiring, especially for long periods of time, which is hilarious because my job is working with people all the time. But I find that when I'm teaching clients and classes where I'm authentically myself, I'm not trying to be anyone else, it's much less tiring. It's much more a state of being instead of a state of trying. I just am. 

[00:18:54] But I think the root of it, and what I'm trying to get at is that when you [00:19:00] have confidence in what you know, and you know what you know so well, then you can let what you know happen and really spend your energy and your attention on your client and making that class really special for them really connect with them, really meet them where they are.

[00:19:21] And it's one of the most powerful things that I hear from my clients and that I hear about Pilates teachers in general, and just how in awe of us our clients are for, you know, just being this like unwavering Pilates presence for like good in their lives and in the world. Um, and it really makes what we do worth it.

[00:19:43] Huge thank you to all my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee. That September newsletter is gonna be going out soon. So I can't wait to meet up with you and have a coffee chat, hear about all of your adventures and answer any and all of your questions. If you're interested in getting in on the fun, visit that Buy [00:20:00] Me a Coffee page, join the project as a supporter or a member. And, uh, we can do that cool stuff on the monthly. I hope you have a great couple weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.

[00:20:19] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual, and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

[00:20:42] The adventure continues. Until next time.