Conscious vs Unconscious Movement

The starting point for learning new movements and actions is found in conscious movement. Learning to walk, turning on a light switch – it’s the same general process in all actions and movement styles that have a set of choreographed actions and/or technique. Each movement or action requires focus and mindful attention to the new learned skill at hand in order to master it.

Once the action becomes mastered, a neural pathway corresponding to the movement is created and from there, one moves into the realm of unconscious movement. This is to say that the action becomes second nature and one ceases to be consciously aware of performing it.

Past physical, emotional or psychological trauma can also influence and affect unconscious movement and action – as well as the associated decision making process. In many ways, your body is informed by the past to influence the decisions you will make in the future. For example, movements can – and often, do – conjoin with behaviors and belief systems to either inhibit or enhance how we move.

As we work to release emotional habits, old patterns and pathologies, we become more aware of ourselves, our feelings and what, in our bodies, has been inhibiting us. That inner work permits a further unlocking of layers of unconscious behavior that also allows us to go deeper into that unconscious movement and to bring more consciousness. Not coincidentally, the very physical movement we are trying to reconnect with, also becomes a perfect way to unconsciously unlock our inhibitions and greater connection with consciousness.

In this way, the awakening of the mind can mirror – and occur in tandem with – that of the body.

This, however, doesn’t mean that as teachers, we are directly responsible for unlocking subconscious patterns in our clients. For example, if we over-cue a client, this can interfere with the natural progression of their body’s intended outcome.

In fact, the internal healing that happens over time through repetitive movement is an independent and natural progression. In my experience, we are there to guide the client and make choices to help awaken the internal curiosity of the body. Similarly, we want to avoid allowing our ego to inset itself into what ultimately should be the client’s growing- and healing- process.

We learn to direct the technique without over-explaining. In unconscious action in the body responds to habitual, albeit conditioned, epigenetic or circumstantial patterns – still, underneath all the patterns lies the inevitability of consciousness- waiting to be discovered. Our work is found in helping guide our clients- and ourselves- to that awareness.

I challenged myself to a 10, 20, 30 mindfulness project and here are my final thoughts below:


Jordan Beinhorn

Jordan began her pilates career at 17 while achieving her BFA in Dance at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2016 Jordan opened Pilates on Traction, the only classical pilates studio in Downtown Los Angeles’ popular Arts District. With the birth of her son Marius in 2018, Jordan moved her practice online, continuing to teach while raising Marius in Colorado where she recently relocated. Jordan has been invited to teach at the classical pilates, Return To Life Conference in Brazil this November, pending status of the COVID 19 global pandemic.

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