Erika Bloom on Mindful Movement and Finding Your Practice
While there were plenty of highlights from our Amagansett Wellness Retreat that we hosted at the Reform Club last month, our Pilates session with Erika of Erika Bloom Pilates was a sure high note. To continue our own Pilates practice on the west coast, we asked Erika to share her thoughts on wellness, self-care, and how we can work daily movement into our routines with ease.
- Rip & Tan: Tell us about your wellness journey. What was it about Pilates that resonated with you, and what eventually inspired you to develop Erika Bloom Pilates?
Erika Bloom: When I discovered I had an autoimmune condition, I found daily movement to be integral for my self-care and healing. Not just any movement, it had to be healthy, nourishing, supportive, and balancing to my body and mind. At that time, I was also a professional dancer with injuries transitioning out of my career. I wanted to continue practicing beautiful movement that kept me full of joy, as well as strong and flexible.
As Pilates initially kept me strong as a dancer, it later helped address my injuries and was the right choice for my autoimmune condition. Now throughout aging, prenatal, and postnatal, it remains the right choice.
I love the way Pilates is a lifelong practice because it is so healing, healthy, pleasurable—and interesting. I will always remain engaged with the practice because there’s always more to learn about my body and about the approach of the method.
I love how it helps me stay connected to my body, mentally and emotionally centered, and in tune with what my body needs with food and sleep. I enjoy Pilates within the thoughtful community of my studios on the apparatus and also daily at home with my kids through our digital membership.
- Rip & Tan: What does the Erika Bloom Method entail and how does it differ from traditional Pilates?
Erika Bloom: The Erika Bloom Method is based on exploring healthy human movement and how our bodies were designed to move. What’s functional and healthy, and then what movement is possible within the body? Exploring this possibility takes our range of movement and places the information into the brain and fascia systems so that we can move healthily in every movement through our life. It encourages the fluid moving through our bodies to deeply nourish our bones, joints, tissues, and organs. It goes beyond achieving the shape of the pose to what you as an individual need.
We’re incorporating the best genius from all the mindful movement modalities throughout history: Alexander Technique, Klein, Feldenkrais, Bartenieff, Franklin, and Pilates. We view The Erika Bloom Method as a living method. When there are new discoveries about movement, we examine them for their efficacy and incorporate them. In this way, the knowledge of the method and what we’re offering our clients is always expanding. For 20 years, we’ve been able to observe what truly works and how people look, feel, and function in their bodies.
- Rip & Tan: How would you describe your approach to health and well-being?
- Erika Bloom: My approach to health and well-being is to focus on being incredibly present: in my body, the moment, with my breath, the people around me, my emotions, and what my body needs for nourishment. Fostering presence is a practice that includes movement and meditation. I very strongly believe in daily movement and daily meditation, even if it needs to be gentler. Through this presence, I’m meeting myself where I am and teaching others to do the same. If I need rest, I rest. If I need to move more, I move more. Doing it all from a place of self-compassion rather than judgment.
- Rip & Tan: Walk us through your daily wellness routine. What are the self-care essentials you count on?
- Erika Bloom: Sleep is so important. I try to go sleep and wake up as close to the same time every day as possible, in rhythm with the sunset and sunrise. I try not to multitask, and rather employ presence and mindfulness in every part of my day. Making sure I have a balance of nourishment not just through foods, also through laughter, love, friendship, quiet, joy, creativity, and intellectual pursuits. Nourishment should be coming from everything. I also spend time in nature and disconnect from technology nearly every day. And if I haven’t said it enough, a daily movement practice is essential, as is having moments through the day to check in with myself. In addition to my daily Pilates, the structural integration and acupuncture that we offer complete my personal wellness.
- Rip & Tan: What are a few at-home Pilates moves we can work into our own routines with ease?
Erika Bloom: Along with bridge and flight, I love side leg lift and medial glide parallel lift. This movement is nice because it improves hip function, especially if you walk or run often. The engagement promotes a healthy back and pelvic stability. It helps lift your pelvis off of your legs so you can lift your spine off of your pelvis. The bonus is all these things give you a great tone in your glutes.
For this move, lie on your side with top leg extended straight in parallel, bottom knee soft. Have both legs extended straight, toes pointed. Lift your leg straight up toward the ceiling only as high as you can while keeping it isolated in the leg and not hiking your hip or shortening your waist. Keep your pelvis stable by drawing your belly in. Lower the leg back down.
- Rip & Tan: What tips do you have for someone still fine-tuning their own wellness practice?
Erika Bloom: Choose movement that you love so that you can sense joy in your mind and body as you’re doing it. Remember what’s right for another isn’t necessarily what’s right for you. It’s important to really listen to yourself and listen to how your body feels. Schedule your wellness practices into your day and calendar as a non-negotiable appointment. We can really benefit from investing in private sessions that are truly personalized. Whether in-studio, at home, or online, you get to receive feedback and support from an expert with an outside perspective. It’s also a way to create accountability, to show up and get into the habit of taking care of yourself every single day.
Make your wellness practice a family affair. Sharing your healthy life with your partner, children or friends makes it all that more attainable. Healthy living is part of what you can do together to connect whether it’s movement, hiking, or making healthy food. Additionally, take time for yourself. Drink water, take a walk, go to sleep, give yourself a facial massage. Make yourself a priority.
- Rip & Tan: What does living well mean to you?
- Erika Bloom: It means remembering that living healthily is about balance, not moderation. Joy is never going to feel as good as feeling really present and being healthy. It’s about learning what truly nourishes me and keeps me healthy and then staying mindful enough to choose that. I focus on the pillars like daily movement, sleep, and hydration, and then other prescriptions are ever-changing. For example, what I eat might shift or at times I’m more internal and at other times want to be more in community.
Photos by Jennifer Trahan