Jennifer Birch has been practicing yoga since her early teens. At the age of twelve, she got pulled aside after PE class during a yearly check for girls to diagnose scoliosis. The nurses agreed her spine wasn’t quite right, but didn’t need further examination. Almost twenty years later, a chiropractor asked her how long she had known she had scoliosis. She began exploring Pilates when her chiropractor recommended it during pregnancy with her second child in 2002. She received her 450 hour teaching certificate in 2003 from Personal Best Pilates Instructor Academy in Kansas City, and was named Kansas City's Best Pilates instructor in 2004 by Pitch magazine. Jennifer's teaching style has been primarily influenced by her practice of Iyengar Yoga, intensive training in anatomy and physiology, and her belief in the body's innate ability to heal.
Being diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disorder (systemic mastocytosis) in her early thirties changed her life. Basic postures and exercises in both pilates and yoga can be contraindicated for those at risk of or diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis. It was time to relearn these practices with a deeper understanding of their risks and benefits. All of our injuries and illnesses provide us with an opportunity to learn and grow. As Pema Chodron says ‘ you can either get stronger or you can suffer, it is the same amount of work’. Suffering is real, but an educated and informed physical practice can help us to become stronger and suffer less. Jennifer is committed to helping you find an inner sense of alignment and strength, allowing you to move through your life in a more centered and graceful way. Attention to detail, precision alignment, and a deeper connection with your own inner teacher are benefits you will receive from private online sessions with Jennifer’s careful guidance and attention.
Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) developed his ingenious method of exercise in response to a frail childhood in which he survived rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever. His exercise program, which he named ‘Contrology: A Return to Life’ combined his studies of Yoga, Zen meditation, ancient Greek exercise, along with his experience in jujitsu, boxing and even circus arts.
Legend has it that Mr. Pilates was imprisoned in Britain during WW1, and it was there that he began to intensely develop his teaching methodology and craft machines to rehabilitate German POW’s. He offered free ‘contrology’ classes to all the imprisoned German nationals and POWs in his camp. When the Spanish Flu pandemic swept through Great Britain, camps with their close quarters, lack of hygiene and poor nutrition, were hit hard and suffered many deaths. Joe’s was the only camp to not suffer a single death. If you have ever been on, or seen, a pilates machine, you know that it uses springs to generate resistance and/ or assistance (depending on the way you are moving) Those springs originally came into use because Pilates was using the springs on the bottom of hospital beds to rehab POWs. Pilates was literally created to take us from states of disease and injury back to optimal levels of health. Pilates, like many forms of exercise, gently pumps the lymphatic system to support greater immunity. The benefits of practicing go far beyond a smaller size of pants or a flatter tummy! Mastering the ability to move from the body's center, along with strengthening the core intelligently, is at the heart of the technique. Pilates' non-impact approach increases muscle strength and flexibility while improving posture and range of motion.The unique spring resistance of Pilates equipment provides traction for the joints while improving alignment through each exercise. Participating in a Pilates program balances the strength of the muscles supporting the skeletal system, and thus creates a more anatomically efficient body. By balancing the body's strength and range of motion we can restore the body to its natural equilibrium, stimulate a sense of wholeness and generate physical as well as mental well-being