Mari Scharf is a dance and pilates teacher who delivers classes full of vitality, flow, and awareness. She has been teaching dance and functional movement since 2008 and feels most alive when she is learning about the body through teaching movement for others. Mari particularly loves working with other women, helping to locate and active the deep structural muscles that support us to be strong, graceful, and balanced.
Mari is our Teacher of the Month for August, so we asked her to share about what draws her to Pilates.
MS: What initially drew me to Pilates was seeing how dancers who had a strong practice in Pilates became so much stronger and more capable. Over the years I started to understand how necessary it is to have some sort of mind-body practice to engage with on a regular basis. Pilates is a true mind-body practice because the foundational principles are concentration, centering, control, precision, breathing, alignment, flow, and integration. Yes, the workout is extremely effective, but my favorite thing about Pilates is what it teaches me about my body. It’s impossible to do pilates without being present of mind and aware of what’s happening in your own body. Any practice that cultivates that relationship, that unification, between mind and body is invaluable in the modern age.
Anyone who’s been to my class knows that I’m passionate about helping people to find, activate, and strengthen their core muscles. When people think of “core”, they often imagine washboard abs, but the core is actually much deeper and more important than the surface ab muscles. The core is comprised of the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle), the diaphragm, and the spinal multifidi. The benefits to building a strong core system go far beyond aesthetics, although it will help you to look and feel fantastic! A strong core means decreased or eliminated joint and muscle pain, better digestion, increased continence and sexual function, fuller breathing, better posture, balance, alignment, increased strength, grace, stability and mobility. Not to mention that the way we move through the world physically has a direct and immediate impact on our emotional and energetic experience of the world, and the way that other people respond to us.
Pilates to me is an elegant practice for establishing and reinforcing our own innate source of power and integrity. Everything I do is about facilitating a reconnection, or a stronger connection, with one’s self.
Sign up for Mari’s Pilates class from 9-10 am on Saturdays here!