People are often perplexed when they observe the Periodic Chart of Elements in my office. What application of information could engage Pat Guyton regarding the education of clients?
I like metaphors. The periodic chart of elements represents the building blocks of all chemical structure, the letters of a universal alphabet, and is based in fact. For chemists, the placement of atoms in the periodic table provides the most powerful guide for classifying the expected properties of molecules and solids made from these particular atoms. It is a mandala of the composition of the world, a circle of life. There is a predictable outcome under certain defined circumstances. We may not always understand these principles, but if we study, we can learn the logic and the science.
Pilates has a “chart” of exercises. When taught well and with understanding, the result can be an expected outcome of better health and vitality. It is the movement elements of Pilates that creates these changes. The art of the teacher, as the chemist of transformation, is to assess, teach and observe the progress towards increasing competency. The consistency of the expected change is a result of the law of correspondence. All humans have two arms, two legs, a trunk, a neck and a head. These are structures based on the chemistry of life and the evolutionary development of our species that we can observe as common to all people. We can learn the elements of Pilates, apply the elements in our teaching to the human body. With experience we can expect certain reliable outcomes. Occasionally, we are challenged when clients present with certain conditions or a missing limb, but the principle elements will still lead to improved lifestyle.
What if the periodic chart shifted? What would happen if every ten years the elements reacted differently with unexpected outcomes? Things would be in disarray, including the structure and physiology of our bodies! The molecules of our entire complex organism would present in physical forms that might look very different. The physical body might have three legs, one arm and antenna for eyes. The execution of the Mat work would need to be reconsidered! Thankfully, there are constants in our world that can be relied on for growth and depth through study and experimentation.
Pilates is a constant based on fact. It is imperative to master the tools we have been given. When told that an innovation to the method or the equipment is new and improved, it usually means that the market has created a demand increased sales of product, not teaching. Study should be the prerequisite for teaching and innovation that supports the system. Occasionally we will find a new element that is integrated into the chart, but the remaining elements are not obsolete.
Increased understanding of chemistry can lead to greater accuracy in the predictability of why things work and can provide greater understanding to the natural world. But, carbon is still #6 on the chart and has an atomic weight of 12.01.
Pilates is still movement. The syllabus contains all of the elements needed to increase commitment to health, to body and to breath. The elements do not change. Perhaps our understanding through practice of many years will lead to greater accuracy and precision in our work of assisting others in transformation. The tools do not need to change. The mind becomes more thoughtful through quiet practice and sharing. The transformation of the teacher is a gift to the students. This is the alchemy of practice over many years.