THE ART OF MINDFUL POLE
My name is Jennifer Grace and I'm an instructor and the Studio Director at Pole Athletica. I've been teaching pole for fourteen years and boy have those years zoomed by incredibly quickly. During the recent Christmas break I made a conscious decision to be more mindfully aware in an effort to calm and nurture my over-active brain. 'Mindfulness' seems to be a trending word at the moment and for those who aren't aware of what it means, here's a great definition as described by mind.org:
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Mindfulness can be applied to all areas of life including your own pole practice. I recently asked the following question in our Pole Athletica student group: what advice would you give your baby-poler self? Not only did I receive an overwhelming number of responses but the feedback was so insightful and in line with the art of mindful thinking, that it inspired me to create this blog and share it with you.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful mix of sage advice from myself and fellow PA students.
What’s The Rush?!
Take your time, there’s no rush to get to the next level and no shame in repeating a level while building up your strength, technique, flexibility, and confidence. It’s better to take more time for your body to learn the right techniques and build the necessary strength gradually, than try to rush into learning new moves just to get ahead and “keep up with everyone else.”
Learning the basics and getting your foundations right will prevent injuries from occurring and ensure you progress safely and confidently. This is your journey, enjoy it at your own pace and celebrate every small win as it’ll eventually lead to conquering your nemesis pole skill!
A Zen-Like Mindset
Advanced student Wendy recommends “taking your time getting into moves. A Zen-like mindset helps! Stay calm and allow yourself time to work out what needs to be in contact with the pole and what you can relax. Rushing leads to bruises and injuries (this would have prevented me falling on my face!)”.
In addition, going through a mental check-list of what needs to go where before attempting a new move will not only save energy but it’ll help build the right muscle patterns and sound technique which will give your confidence a massive boost. And most importantly, don’t forget to breathe when holding a pose!
Listen To Your Body
Listen to and respect your body as it works hard for you. Learn and discern the differences between a “muscle’s working type of discomfort” and pain. Aside from your usual pole type burning sensation, you shouldn't feel pain when practicing pole and if at any point you do, please don’t push past it or ignore it. This will only lead to injury and potentially make you take time out. Speak up! Have a chat with your instructor; they’ll be able to break a movement down so you can work safely up to it or correct a simple alignment issue.
Practice Makes Progress!
A once a week pole class is certainly enough to make noticeable changes in your strength, tone and physical appearance but as the PoleFit Levels progress so does the intensity of the skills in each level. Pulling your entire body into an upside down position on a spinning pole is unlike any regular gym work-out! You can’t get disappointed or upset with yourself if you’re finding a skill challenging and only coming to class once a week - that’s not really fair on yourself! A little extra pole time will do wonders for improving strength.
The studio is open 7 days a week with practice-time scheduled every-day of the week. Nine out of the eleven hours offered are FREE! It’s free because we want you to come in and practice. If motivation is an issue, grab a few pole buddies and make a pole date out of it! If time is an issue, and hey this is pretty common, practise body-weight exercises in the comfort of your own home without any equipment. If you're not sure what to do, or are looking for some new exercises, I’ve put together a pole specific bodyweight video just for you! Check it out here.
Don’t give up when you experience a challenge; rise up to it! The wins will be so much sweeter!!
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
The studio is such a supportive space and we have a strong sense of community. There are so many higher level students and teachers at the studio who are super willing to help you out along your pole journey. While you may want to just jump into that move you’re worried about, asking someone to spot you or asking if they can show you how it’s done is always a great idea.
Cross Training is Key!
A balanced body is a healthy body! If you’re doing a lot of strength work then it’s equally important that you stretch. On the flip-side, if you’re a bendy babe, you need to make sure you’re including some strength work in your practice to protect your ligaments and joints. Pole involves a lot of upper-body work so it’s super important you give some love to your legs, butt and hips. Level 9 Student Mark says his mobility has improved greatly since including squats in his training again. Level 2 student Biwa feels it’s important to have a recovery practice that is about moving slower and more mindfully. In her words, “I'm learning so much about my body and mind on my pole journey.”
We offer a huge variety of enhancement classes at the studio to strengthen, lengthen and provide students with a balanced cross-training experience. Feel free to chat to Shea, myself or your instructor about what you could do to balance your work-out.
And a final piece of advice from Level 7 student Mandy, don’t forget to point your goddamn toes!
Thank you for reading and If you have any tips or advice to add to the above, please comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Feel free to share this blog if you know someone who might benefit from it.