Mat is Where the Heart is

March MATness

By Barbara Stamis

Mat class at homeThroughout the month of March we strive to derive more empowerment from Joseph Pilates’ work. We make an effort to connect with our fellow Pilates teachers, push ourselves to explore the Mat work on a daily basis, and encourage Pilates newbies to experience the feeling of a healthy, agile body. March MATness impels us grownups to explore what Pilates really can be: re-connection with the instinctive movements of our childhood. Making a connection to our primitive cores and to those around us who wish to move and heal, we experience and explore movement and health in “the way of the Mat”.

ScoopBecause I teach privately from my home studio, I didn’t think I’d have enough space, but by moving my furniture around, my living room opened up to comfortably accommodate an 8-person Mat class. And, I thought, if I get just one newbie to try Pilates, then I succeed! So, I decided to host a…

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Cracked Wide Open and Filled with Playa Dust



Through the Buddhist teachings, I have come to understand the phrase, “suffering” as the raw vulnerability that arises when we are awakened to the simple truth that everything changes, including ourselves.  We will inevitably die and pass on from this physical world as we now know it.  This vulnerability is paired with the feeling of being connected to every other human being and conversely, a sense of loneliness, or aloneness.  This year I left Burning Man with these same feelings magnified by a million percent.  I am cracked open and vulnerable, filled with questions and truths about myself and life.  I feel connected, grateful, raw, lonely, elated, inspired, deflated, sad, loved, overwhelmed, small and expanded all at the same time.

My friend, just returning from his first experience on the Playa told me, “The things I’ve learned and experienced… I can’t go back to my old ways.  I want to be and I will be present and aware.  I am forever changed.”  Black Rock City cracked him wide open to a world of love, connectivity, self and communal awareness, and a myriad of other inexpressible things.  He is vulnerable and AWAKE!

Driving back from the desert, my boyfriend expressed his discomfort with some of the flaws of Burning Man.  Massive amounts of resources are used to support our lives out in the middle of nowhere.  We amass endless numbers of disposable wipes, plastic blinky rings and glow sticks without a second thought.  Good viable wood is used for projects and burnt to ashes at the end of the event.  And this year, while Yosemite burned, firemen extinguished our organized contained fires.

These are valid concerns, but I feel assured when someone returns from the Playa deeply touched and vowing to live by the core principles of Burning Man: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self Reliance, Radical Self Expression, Civic Responsibility, Communal Effort, Leave No Trace, Participation and Immediacy.  I can only hope that many of the 60,000 visitors feel that same way.  Like the Buddhist teachings, self-practice,  is how we begin to make change for the better, creating peace and global connection.

So, yes, Facebook and Instagram are lighting up with images of the bright highs, late night dance parties, passion techno remixes and disco pyrotechnics.  But, while these reflect the surface of Burning Man, perhaps they are the deeper vehicles for cracking us open, knocking us down into the fine alkaline dust, exposing our hearts and opening our minds, so that we re-enter our societies more awake, more grateful and more alive than when we left.


Pilates Nerd™ is Here!

We have all been dreaming about this!  A word, a hub, a website that encompasses our very essence!  What exactly is a Pilates Nerd?

Pilates Nerd Definition

My passionate and devoted friend, Karen Ellis, has brought this wonderful hub to life.  Her new website is all things Pilates.  Soon to be filled with even more beautiful quotes, images, blog posts, juicy information and apparel!  (I love the apparel!)  So, in your spare time, dork out a little and check out Pilates Nerd.  Karen’s first blog post is up as well, and I simply loved it!  I know all of you body brainiacs out there will love it too!




“Were man to devote as much time and energy to himself as he has devoted to that which man has produced, what astounding and unbelievable progress would be made; a progress eclipsing all he has so far successfully accomplished…”Joseph Pilates

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Mechanics of Mountain Pose (Workshop!)

I have joined forces with yoga teacher extraordinaire, Sarah Reese, to teach a wonderfully deep and creative workshop.  We are so excited to be collaborating after many years of brainstorming, deconstructing yoga postures and problem solving movement anomalies.  I hope that you can join us!  Your brain and your bod will be challenged!

(Email me for more info or contact Yogaworks directly to register) Mechanics of Mountain Pose

Fuzz, the Magic of Cadaver Dissection, and the Boston Marathon


Last week I was immersed in an Integral Anatomy course for 6 days with Gil Hedley.  From 9 until 5 we dissected 4 human forms layer by layer, unwrapping gifts of philosophical marvel, anatomical wonder and spiritual enlightenment.  How did all of this come from a dissection lab?

Being present with death and exploring the inner workings of the human body’s true physical form did many things to me and for me, but mostly thrust me back into the world appreciating how tremendously precious our lives are, not only as individuals, but as a whole connected universe.

There is no space in the human form.  None.  Everything is connected, whether strung by ligamentous tissue, gliding slippery surfaces, or spider webby fuzz;  there is no airy space.

“Fuzz” is what Gil has defined as the etherial like tissue that lives between layers of fascia.  It is a filmy fascia that creates a sliding surface for other tissues to glide amongst one another.  In the living, the stiffer the fuzz, the stiffer the body.  The more we nurture and massage our fuzz, the more mobile and functional we feel and become.  The wonderful thing about fuzz is that you can’t see it until you start to pull things apart.  As you brush against it with a scalpel or even your finger, it seems to disappear.  Like a spider web, its integrity diminishes and the tissue layers are no longer connected.  But just because you may no longer see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t or didn’t exist.  It still was and is the tissue that holds us together and is part of what connects us from one layer to the next.

So, how is it that our bodies, our forms, our glowing life force energies actually stop at the skin surface?  Are there layers that exist beyond the skin?

Yes!  I believe that there are.  We are as interconnected to the space and world around us as we are within our bodies.  “We are the world.”  Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie were so right on.  We literally ARE the world.  Is it so far fetched to think that we are all interconnected by some kind of fuzzy fractal-like tissue, electricity, or energy?  Just because we might not be able to see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there allowing us to glide and interweave amongst one another, other living things and our nurturing earth, sun, moon and stars.  Aren’t we all making up one large body?  Aren’t’ we all living from and contributing to the function of our planet and universe?

So, how is it that we reap our earth, soil our waters and scar human beings living right amongst us?

Coming out of such a warm and fuzzy loving bubble created by Gil and my fellow *somanauts this past week, re-integration seemed a little scary, but I knew that my energetic high would blossom, spread to those around me and propel me into my teaching.  That being said, it feels terribly sad that this high and feeling of being deeply connected to myself and every human neighbor isn’t felt by everyone or even most of the planet.  The devastation that has just occurred towards the marathon community in Boston threw me for a loop.  Is the fear of being connected and the fear of community so strong for some that they must tear these ideas down by destroying life?  My week long experience leads me to believe that if people were experiencing their bodies, connecting to their bodies, exploring deep within their bodies; this destruction of life would not occur.  When we dig down deep; heck, even shallow, just underneath the skin, we are not only the same, but we are one.  We are interconnected just as the layers of the human form are connected with “fuzz.”  We can pretend it isn’t there, ignore its importance and become stiff, rigid and disconnected; or we can visualize it, massage, love and nurture it, so that it takes form and functions in the harmonious connective way true to its inherent design.

Sending love, light, prayer and healing energy to the Boston Marathon runners, community and to all of us.

*(Like the astronaut who navigates outer space, the somanaut is dedicated to exploring the inner space of human form)

Your Body IS the Perfect Healing Machine… So STOP Icing!

Out with the old and in with the new!  Well, this actually is not a new philosophy and runs parallel to the philosophies of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.  The general gist is that icing for your injury is a huge ‘no-no’.  This brief article and video explain the healing process after injury and how icing is NOT beneficial and is actually counter productive, because it disrupts the natural healing rhythm of the body.  I know many of you have discussed whether to ice or heat at some point with me.  Usually heat prevails, and now we have a deeper understanding of why….

So, enjoy, educate yourselves and we can discuss it when I see you next… Oh, and know that I will never recommend ice again.