Natalie Garay

As a highly intuitive Pilates Educator with a knee-slapping sense of humor, Natalie is applauded for her knowledge and insight of the human body. Natalie has been featured on Fitformoms.com, Wello.com, Soles4Souls.org, Examiner.com, and EveryMotherCounts.org.

Part 1: Lindsay and Natalie chat about practicing Pilates with soul.

Part 2: Natalie helps demonstrate easy movement to create a space for healing.

Using gentle at home Pilates for healing

Natalie invites us into her virtual Pilates studio to share gentle exercises she uses with her clients that are overcoming chronic illness.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your philosophy on healing.

I am a Pilates Educator, a mama and a humanitarian at heart. My philosophy on healing is that I believe movement is essential to our overall wellbeing. Whether you prefer yoga, Pilates, running or a walk on the beach, I believe that exercise is a catalyst to greater things in our life. I have a favorite quote from a Legally Blonde movie (of all movies) “Exercise creates endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t kill their husbands.” I love that! Happy people go out and make other people happy and go on to create amazing things in their life and beyond.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your business and your vision:

My business is something that morphed together from years of experience and lessons as a dancer, a Pilates Educator, solo mama and a love for helping other mamas. Being a dancer in college really opened my eyes to the way the body moves and how it needs to be nurtured to prevent injury. Years later I was introduced to Pilates and learned how to nurture and rehabilitate the body through a proper Pilates practice. During my Pilates teaching years I had the opportunity to work alongside a few amazing Physical Therapists and partner in the care of their post-operative patients. All of this combined with my experience of carrying twins, enduring two months of bed rest and two c-sections later, I learned more about the body than I imagined.

10 years later, I have combined all of the above to develop my business, an online Pilates studio where I offer Private & Group Pilates sessions as well as a video library. The motivation behind creating this business was to help as many women around the world as possible. My vision is to use my knowledge of the body to heal women in mind and body with the Pilates method.

Q: Your business has a value based philanthropic message behind it – please tell us about it:

Back in 2006 I learned about human trafficking. When I heard about the number of women and children who were sold or at risk of being sold into human trafficking I was heart broken. Shortly thereafter, I began working with a couple of anti-trafficking organizations because I admired their work and wanted to help fight trafficking any way possible. During that time, I read Nick Kristof’s book “Half the Sky” and learned about more social injustices women suffer from around the world. In his book, Nick talks about the importance of education in combatting such injustices. By educating women and girls, by giving them a trade, we can empower them and reduce the amount of victims of abuse or social injustice.

After a trip to Haiti in August 2012 with one of my daughters, I left feeling a deep desire to come back to Haiti and help rebuild their country. I have partnered with YWCA Haiti to train their students in Mat Pilates in order to give them a trade. My hope is to do the same with other organizations around the globe.

Q: How have you used adversity in your life to fuel your commitment to wellness?

I’ve learned is that if I’m not taking proper care of myself then I can’t be fully present and available to others, whether that be for my clients or my family. If I’m not feeling strong or inspired or if I have to deal with some not so fun folks, I’m much more prepared for it if I’ve kept up with my wellness program.

 Q: How do you stay healthy, resilient and vibrant?

I’ve been practicing Pilates for about 11 years now and last fall I incorporated a regular yoga practice into my wellness regime that has helped me further in my meditation practice. These three practices are necessary to keep me vibrant and motivated.

Q: What tips do you recommend for your clients dealing with / healing from illness?

I find myself repeating the same thing to my clients, especially those healing from illness: Stretch, hydrate and eat whole healthful foods.

Q: How can Pilates help people with chronic illness?

Pilates is incredible because it can be tailored to any body. I’ve worked with such a wide range of clients and I’ve never experienced a client who hasn’t benefited from it. Pilates exercises focus on lengthening and strengthening muscles from the inside out, which means we’re working on the deeper muscles of the body to build a strong foundation. Stretching alone just feels amazing, it gets things moving in the body and clients frequently end a session feeling better than when they started. In addition, the Pilates breath is fantastic for relaxation.

Q: If there was only one thing a person could find the energy and resources to make a priority what would it be? Stretch, stretch, stretch (and hydrate)

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote for healing?

“Where there is love, people flourish.” I can’t tell you who said it, but it popped in to my head recently and it’s stuck with me.