Special #2001

The Power of Touch

5 min - Special


Touch is an integral part of Pilates instruction that has become minimized or lost over the years. Madeline Black explores the power of touch and she urges us to explore, study, and embody trusted touch. By learning how to integrate touch through educating our hands, we can enhance movement and go deeper inward. When we can take someone inward during movement, we will find change.

This was filmed at the 2014 Pilates Method Alliance Conference in San Diego, California.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

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Jan 26, 2015
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[inaudible] touch, touch, touch, touch is the integral part of [inaudible] teaching that has been minimized or lost with the growth of our field. I want to return the power of touch to PyLadies and encourage you to explore, study, and embody trusted touch that was controversy over whether it's appropriate to touch and PyLadies. What's not appropriate is an uneducated touch. What's appropriate is an educated and sensitive touch. It's not massage, it's not manipulation, it's not mobilization, it's enhancing movement.

It's tactile queuing. It's sensing tissue tension. It's adding resistance and releasing tension. It's sensing the space between client and practitioner and it's creating a response. And we want a response. We teach Pilati is to help clients integrate mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and all the other Ilis right? But the way to integrate touch is to educate your hands.

So how do we educate our hands? Professional and intuitive touch is based on the knowledge of anatomy. So know your anatomy so you can teach your hands to see, teach your hands to be competent, teacher hands to be affective. Now there might be resistance from someone receiving your touch that's colored by their experience. I'll give you an example. I was sitting upside stretch on the wonder chair for a 60 year old client and as she moved into the position, I placed one hand on her iliac crest and the other hand on her lower ribs to lengthen the movement. Familiar? Yeah. Well she retracted.

So I said, oh sit up. And she shared a story with me about her uncle who love to take her by the arms and swinging her back and forth. And she was just three years old and she remembered how painful that was. And for 57 years she avoided moving her arms overhead or feeling any kind of sense of stretch in her shoulders. Now she was willing to try and I made sure I moved at her pace and my touch was colored by her response. So it became soft, but confirming then it became firmer and precise.

And through this process she was able to let go of her old fear and she improved her arm and trunk movements. So we as teachers develop this partnership between clients and teacher, right. This work that we do is a dance right? To me, it's a waltz. Okay. So let's go back to the beginning. Touch your island sense, the delicate tissue and the light pressure. Touch your arm. Feel the weight of your hand.

Since the skin and below the skin educated hands would say, feel your superficial Fascia. Okay. Now go to the muscle layer. Notice how deep and from this touches, hey, touch your thigh. This is a thicker, denser touch. It requires a firmer touch. Yeah.

So touch is the bridge between the sense of self, the inner you, the internal you, and the external world through a nervous system shift. And when we take someone inward as they move, this is the place where change happens. So I urge you to educate your hands, not just your mind and your core. Okay. Oh, and I really feel strongly that it's a skill that we will hopefully pursue a little bit more through the education. And you will find that touch will improve your clients' wellbeing exponentially. And the best is it fills your fountain of energy for your work.

Okay, thank you.


Wow..so powerful..to be allowed on this intimate journey of discovery and healing with another human is a privilege..we are so lucky! Thank you for your wisdom.
1 person likes this.
Thanks so much. So encouraging.
Excellent ~
More please on this topic Madeline.
Lynn G
1 person likes this.
Very well put. I have been to countless Pilates studio where the instructors have never touched or guided me through movement, what a pity as a thousand words could never been as powerful as an intentional directional touch.
Beautifully said, thank you. After many accidents and operations to repair my body I only began to really release and expand the movements when I started working with two excellent teachers who were not afraid to touch!! It makes all the difference.
1 person likes this.
Wonderfully presented. Touch lasts on our bodies long after words are forgotten. Such an important and well articulated message.
Great reminders!
Really useful reminders thankyou. Such an important part I think of truly taking 'care' of our clients. Best wishes from the UKx
Very powerful words. WOW! Thank you.
Thanks! This was just what I needed to know...
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