I met Niedra Gabriel online. For weeks and weeks, I benefited from her online Pilates classes. I was so nourished by her words and the movements she proposed in her classes, that I reached out to her. I hope this interview helps you think differently about the importance of movement.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Israel and then went to ballet school in London in my high school years. I traveled a lot during this time and became an avid student of the physical arts.
My ultimate life purpose is to unlock the mysteries of the human body as a portal to soul expression. This desire has motivated me to study many types of physical movement, nutrition and personal growth to support and honor the life force through in our bodies as well as share ways to optimize who we are in the world.
I am a seasoned Pilates and Yoga instructor who takes a holistic approach to understanding the body and exploring its tremendous gifts. I am committed to health, fitness and personal growth in both the U.S. and abroad. I’m currently involved in creating and delivering concentrated training, workshops, retreats, teacher training, and continuing education classes.
How do you define movement?
Everything, life is movement! Breathing is movement, being conscious about how you move is functional life affirming “movement” and this includes how I walk, sit, stand and sleep!
Ideally, how does movement impact women (mentally, physically, hormonally)?
Women have to move. We internalize a lot of emotion and moving helps calm our hormonal system down and get us empty again. We are designed to dance, sing, play and express through movement. When movement is part of women’s daily life they tend to be happier and calmer and more beautiful.
What do women really want when they move their bodies?
To feel their grace and presence. They want to feel themselves and feel radiant.
Why is movement something which needs to be taught? Aren’t we all moving naturally as we go about our days?
Sadly, our lives are no longer natural or normal. We sit in chairs, sit in cars, and sit in front of computers. Even babies are put into strollers where they slump around (indigenous women carried their babies on their backs or sides) so we do not develop functionally optimally. Children also mimic the adults around them, and adults are now slumped over cells, stressed out, and children copy this. So yes, we need to learn to move optimally again.
What are some ideas about weight loss and exercise that women are holding onto that are not serving them?
It is really a whole life process of coming back into balance and harmony. A woman can go “on a diet” and restrict her food intake for a period of time, and achieve “ the goal” but if she has not changed her relationship with food, why she eats and food choices she will go right back to the the same person she was before and the weight will come back.
The same goes for exercise – why are you exercising? Why are you choosing this form over that form? What do you really want to experience ? What do you want to achieve? So before the activity there really needs to be some inspection of who you are on a deep level and what is troubling you and where you are out of alignment with your vision and values – only then can a vision and direction that will support the “why eat a certain way and why exercise a certain way“ be a motivation that enhances life.
What is special about Pilates?
It is an alignment based style of exercise. Pilates first focus is internal and skeletal integration. Pilates done with the right focus can unravel a lot of dysfunction in the body, wake up dormant and atrophied muscles and release joints that were not moving. This makes Pilates a sophisticated approach to upgrading the body. Through a regular Pilates practice a person can become healthy and integrated enough to then enjoy other sports or activities without injury or dysfunction.
If women want to try Pilates, how should they start?
Finding a teacher to work with is ideal. The teacher should have a good concept of correct movement and you should enjoy the class. I say this as there is a lot to learn and you want to enjoy discovering your body. There are also online classes that are great, not as good as a live teacher looking at your movements and making sure you are doing the exercises correctly, but in these modern times, online is a popular way to get a workout in as well as a way to experience many types of teachers and styles of teaching
What is it that keeps you motivated and excited to do this work?
I am a movement junky and I love learning and teaching. I always exercise or take classes myself so I am always learning and I love sharing what I learn with people who want to learn from me.
Can you recommend online resources for women interested in learning more about Pilates and movement?
Pilates: Pilates Anytime and Pilatesology offer streaming Pilates classes on all Pilates equipment for all fitness levels.
Through my Spirit Moves, I currently offer in-person movement retreats, teacher training, and private Pilates sessions (both in person and online). Coming soon, I will open my “online studio” where I will teach streaming classes to my students worldwide as well as offer in-depth educational programs for anyone to access for their personal practice and progress.
Pilatesology.com Code: Niedra-2137
Pilatesanytime.com Code: 7628PBE
Your turn: Out of everything, what will you remember from Niedra’s wisdom?