Happy March Mat-ness!
This month is dedicated to Pilates lovers everywhere! Started by Benjamin Degenhardt, the purpose of March Mat-ness is to celebrate the creation of the Pilates method and the original mat order of exercises from Joseph Pilates's book, Return to Life.
The beauty of Pilates On Demand is that you can take my classes anywhere, which means we have plenty of opportunity to take part in March Mat-ness this month. So where is the BEST place you've taken me yet?!
Send me a picture from where you are celebrating March Mat-ness this year or feel free to post and tag @pilateswithsarahpowellshaff!
I hope you take time to appreciate the beauty of the Pilates method and all that it has done for your body this month. And I hope you enjoy the new drop of classes!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to
The White Helmets.
When the bombs rain down, the White Helmets (also known as the Syria Civil Defense) rush in. In a place where public services no longer function, these humanitarian volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or politics. Known for their distinctive headwear, the rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth and have saved more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.
Former bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and many more professions besides, the White Helmets are volunteers from all walks of life. Many have paid the ultimate price for their compassion – 252 have been killed while saving others. As frontline humanitarians, they are protected by international humanitarian law. Although they work exclusively in areas outside of government control, they have saved lives from all sides of the conflict, including that of government soldiers. Their inspiring work has earned them recognition at the highest international levels and they have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
The White Helmets’ motto is taken from the Quran: 'to save a life is to save all of humanity'. In a conflict where too many have chosen violence, the White Helmets wake up every day to save the lives others are trying so hard to take.
The White Helmets is led by a democratically-elected Leadership Council that represents teams across the country, headed by Raed al Saleh who was formerly the Head of the White Helmets in Idlib, northern Syria.
The work of the White Helmets has expanded in response to the needs of the communities they serve, now providing essential services to millions of people. Their work includes fixing electrical grids, maintaining sewage works, clearing rubble from roads, removing unexploded weapons, as well as community education and preparation for future attacks.
The White Helmets have had female volunteers since their formation – now there are 221 women who are trained in medical care and light search and rescue work.
Like their male counterparts, the female White Helmets started out doing search and rescue work. Seeing the needs of their communities, the female teams have now expanded their work to provide trauma counseling, community education to help children and families prepare for attacks and recover afterwards, and in areas where there are few medical services, they have opened women maternal health clinics.
Their data and eyewitness testimonies, as well as photographic evidence, have been vital sources of information for international investigations into war crimes compiled by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and human rights groups. These crimes include the use of chemical weapons, the collective punishment of civilians through starvation sieges and the targeting of hospitals and medical facilities. The leading perpetrators of these crimes, the Syrian government and its ally Russia, are targeting the White Helmets on the ground and attempting to discredit their work online and in the media.
The White Helmets dream of an end to their work pulling bodies from under the rubble and a time when their beloved Syria is at peace. When this day comes the White Helmets want to play their part in rebuilding a Syria where everyone's rights are realized.
Already they are dealing with some of the most visible remnants of the war – unexploded weapons. They have trained teams who are clearing farmlands so that farmers can start growing the crops needed to feed communities. They are restoring schools so children can return to learn in safety and securing roads so that everyday journeys are no longer a matter of life and death.
Thousands of people are confirmed to have died already in Syria in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that has toppled houses in every city and village across northern Syria and southern Turkey.
White Helmets volunteers saved almost 3,000 people from the destruction caused by the earthquake. Now, they start the next phase of their emergency response: recovery and rehabilitation.
The White Helmets' response hasn’t stopped just because the cries for help from under the rubble have. Help them provide urgent support to Syria's earthquake survivors.
To learn more about their work and to give directly to their organization, visit their website.
I hope this post finds you starting 2023 with peace, joy and movement for your body, mind and soul.
I have done a lot of reflecting since the start of this year on what I am doing everyday to my body - what I'm putting in it, how I'm moving it, how I'm taking care of it, what it's absorbing such as stress, anxiety, screen time, social media. There are certainly many, many opinions out there on what you should do and not do to be "healthy." And one thing I really wanted to share in my reflection - I am not an expert on anything. I am a permanent student. I have no room to tell you to eat this or don't eat that, get this many hours of sleep, don't do social media or use screens. And even though I have eleven years of teaching experience in Pilates, I don't want to be another voice in your head standing in your way and building fear or anxiety around movement. I want you to move and figure out your own bodies in a safe, judgment free zone. Because any movement is better than no movement. And it's there in that zone that you find joy in movement because you then have autonomy over your own body and what it can do.
So this month, my focus in all my classes is "better health," which really means we move to feel good, not because we are trying to force our bodies to do something that we feel they should be able to do. Every month, I'm proud of the classes I build, but this month is extra special. All of the classes feel GOOD and will have you learning something new about your body. I hope it brings you joy and leaves you walking away feeling confident in the skin you're in.
As of January 24, 1,230 people in the U.S. have died from gun violence so far in 2023. At least 69 of those deaths were in mass shootings. That's why this month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Sandy Hook Promise Foundation.
Sandy Hook Promise is a national nonprofit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Based in Newtown, Connecticut, their intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning their tragedy into a moment of transformation. By empowering youth to “know the signs” and uniting all people who value the protection of children, we can take meaningful actions in schools, homes, and communities to prevent gun violence and stop the tragic loss of life.
The mission of Sandy Hook Promise is to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. Through their proven, evidence-informed Know the Signs programs and sensible, bipartisan school and gun safety legislation, they teach young people and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others.
They have had 18 million participants, 23,000+ schools engaged, 150,000+ tips anonymously reported, 397 confirmed lives saved with crisis intervention, 102 acts of violence with a weapon prevented, 12 planned school shootings prevented and passed STOP school violence Act 2018. Their next steps include 1) expanding their proven Know the Signs programs to teach more youth and adults how to prevent violence, shootings, and other harmful acts with age-appropriate, antiracist curriculum that can be delivered online or in-person, 2) Sandy Hook Promise strives to ensure its work environment, programmatic work, and culture reflect the values of race, equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI) and 3) through their sister organization, Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, writing and championing common sense policy to prevent gun violence and support mental wellness.
To learn more and to make the promise, visit their website: https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/
Growing up, my family always celebrated holidays such as birthdays and Christmas, but my mom has always said, "Holidays are just another day." Now, she's usually saying this at times where we can't all be together to make us (well, me) feel less guilty. But she is right, holidays are just another day on our journey through life.
And that means we don't need to buy into "New Year, New Me" or "New Year, New Body" rhetoric. You are perfect just the way you are. Today is another day to make small choices that can better our experience along this journey. And today is also a great day to go experience all that life has to offer. Life's too short to waste time with beating ourselves up over what we wish we looked like instead of living fully in the body we have.
My new year's wish for you is that you love the body you are in, to use Pilates On Demand to keep you moving and to thank your body for all it can do.
This last month, I was in shock to learn of the passing of Stephen "Twitch" Boss, a famous dancer who committed suicide at the age of 40. As a young Black male dancer, he shined in a way I have never seen before. His smile, his movement, his joy, his warmth and kindness completely captured me and my heart and made me feel as if I knew him. This really shines a light on how dangerous social media can be. We publish only what we want others to know - we hardly ever share the messiness or the darkness that can be consuming us.
While it is important to check in on one another and make your community feel seen and heard, I am completely sure that he had a full community of loved ones doing just that. So work needs to be done beyond just being there for your community. It is important to amplify how valuable and necessary getting mental health care is for everyone.
With that, this month, 20% of our proceeds will go to Black Men Heal.
Black Men Heal was established in 2018. It was created as a solution to a broken inequitable mental health care system that does not center the needs of marginalized Black and brown communities.
Their focus centers on the mental health needs of Black Men because of the lack of resources attending solely to this population. Their mission is to provide mental health treatment, education, and resources to men of color. Their goals are to eliminate the barriers that contribute to health disparities and inequities that exist for BIPOC communities to seek treatment, and to help increase the likelihood that Black men will self-initiate treatment for mental health struggles. Aside from the health disparities that marginalized communities face when seeking quality and unbiased treatment, additional barriers that prevented BIPOC men from seeking therapy 1. affordability/cost, 2. lack of cultural competency in treatment provider selection, and 3. the stigma. Black Men Heal was created and developed to eliminate each of these three barriers.
Black Men Heal is a nonprofit that provides FREE mental health treatment-both individual and group therapy to men of color. Their offering to the community is a safe space that provides the opportunity to heal from intergenerational trauma and systemic racism. They pair the men with therapists of color who can attend to their unique cultural experiences.
75% of their men continue on with their therapists after the eight free sessions.
To learn more about their fantastic work, please visit their website.
Replenishing Self Care
Way to go! You have made it to the end of 2022 and you survived and, dare I say, thrived! I don't know about you, but seeing the world "back to normal" and trying to live as if this pandemic still doesn't exist around us has shown me my endurance isn't quite back to what it used to be. But we are all trying - we are showing up, doing all the things again and doing the best we can. And if you showed up to your mat even once this year, I am so proud of you!
Self care can and should look different to everyone. What works for me will certainly be different than what works for you. But Pilates will always be self care for every body who shows up. With attention to detail, breath, flow, you will always feel as if you meditated and got a great workout in all at the same time. Your mind and body will feel clear, energized and replenished.
And with that, the holiday season is always a great reminder that self care and Pilates are not about weight loss and being as skinny as you can be. They are both about nurturing the body you live in and giving it the love, movement, joy and breath that it deserves. And that is what we will always be about here at Pilates On Demand.
And as always, the first day of the month means it's time to check out the On Demand library for a whole new set of videos! I so hope you enjoy!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Child Rights and You India.
In honor of our current trip to India, this month, it was important to us that we give back. Child Rights and you (CRY) envisions a happy, healthy and creative child whose rights are protected and honored in a society that is built on respect for dignity, justice and equity for all. Their mission: 1) take responsibility - to enable people to take responsibility for the situation of the deprived Indian child and so motivate them to seek resolution through individual and collective action thereby enabling children to realize their full potential, 2) mobilizing potential - to make people discover their potential for action and change, and 3) inspiring collective action - to enable peoples’ collectives and movements encompassing diverse segments, to pledge their particular strengths, working in partnership to secure, protect and honor the rights of India’s children.
CRY was born of a dream to ensure happier childhoods for all children. In 1979, Rippan Kapur – an Indian Airlines purser – started CRY with 6 friends and just Rs. 50. Today, over 4 decades later, CRY works with 102 local NGOs across 19 states in India and has impacted the lives of over 3 million children.
CRY works with project partners at the grassroots level to create sustainable change for India’s children. Their approach is modeled around bringing change at all levels. With our support, they address children’s critical needs by working with parents, teachers, Anganwadi workers, communities, district and state level governments as well as the children themselves. They focus on changing behaviors and practices at the grassroots level and influencing public policy at a systemic level – thereby creating an ecosystem where children are made the nation’s priority. They currently have 102 project partners across 19 states in India that work on various child rights issues.
In 2021-2022, 908,479 children were impacted overall; 85% of children in CRY project areas, between the ages of 6-18 years, in school*In the 6-14 age group, our enrollment and retention rate are 15% better than the all India enrollment status, based on the ASER report; 86% children in CRY project areas, under the age of 5 years, prevented from malnutrition with only 17% children in CRY project areas underweight, as compared to 32% all India status as per NFHS 5; 99% of adolescent girls, in CRY project areas, between 11-18 years, protected from child marriage; 96% children, in CRY project areas, between the ages of 6-18 years, protected from child labor. CRY endeavors to multiply the impact of every rupee spent by getting infrastructure and services from the state that benefit the entire community in perpetuity.
At CRY, they advocate for children’s rights at multiple levels and influence policy by engaging with key stakeholders in the government: 1) Free and Compulsory Education for India's Children - CRY participated in the ‘Voice Of India’ campaign, as a part of the National Alliance for the Fundamental Right to Education (NAFRE), to propose a constitutional amendment to the government for free and compulsory education to all children and as a result of the ‘Voice of India’ campaign, NAFRE contributed towards bringing in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009; 2) Member of Technical & Advisory Committees - CRY is recognized as a child rights expert and is a member of Niti Ayog’s sub-committee on ‘Child Rights and Child Protection’ and is also on the central advisory board on child and adolescent labor under the Ministry of Labour and Employment; 3) Providing Technical Support in Policy Making - CRY provided technical support to State governments in drafting the following policies: Chhattisgarh State Policy for Children, Manipur State Policy for Children, Jharkhand State Policy for Early Childhood Care and Education; 4) Sensitizing Policy Makers to the Needs of "Childescents" - CRY conducted an in-depth study, based on secondary data, on the status and needs of children between 15-18 years of age – the first of its kind that recognized those over the age of 14 as children as well. The resulting report, “Childescents In India: We Are Children too!” was presented to policy makers, academicians and practitioners. It was also carried in the G20 Summit Summary Briefing Booklet. The G20 summit is a global economic summit of leaders from countries across the world; 5) Enabling Capacity Building of Government Officials on Child Rights - CRY makes submissions to various relevant ministries and statutory bodies, which has contributed towards system strengthening and capacity building of government officials on child education including early childhood care and development, elementary education as well as juvenile justice, child labour, child trafficking, child marriage and child sexual abuse.
To learn more about their incredible work, visit their website: https://www.cry.org/
It is November 1st, which means we have a whole set of new videos up on the site for you to explore! I have to say, I am SO excited to share these videos with you. We have a lot of fun with props, and have no fear - I give plenty of at home options if you don't have the props we use. Plus, you can ALWAYS do the same videos without the props. These videos will make you feel SO good while giving you a really nice challenge and sweat. And with the end of year fast approaching, now is the time to really set aside time for yourself to keep moving and giving yourself the self care that you need and deserve.
And with the holiday season almost upon us, Pilates makes the PERFECT gift!
Gift cards are available on the site!
Feel free to gift a month of Pilates On Demand ($20) to a friend or family member to encourage some self care in this chaotic season.
And reminder - - this is a big election month, so please, GO VOTE!!!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to The Covenant House.
November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, and as the Covenant House is a past Pilates for a Cause organization, now seemed the time to contribute to their work again.
Since 1972, Covenant House has opened its doors to over 1.5 million young people experiencing homelessness and trafficking, one youth at a time. That’s half a century of believing in youth and nurturing their promise, talents, and courage. In 34 cities across six countries, more than 2,000 young people sleep in a Covenant House bed each night. No one is ever turned away without support of some kind. Their services and programs are available at no cost. Many complex factors increase a young person’s chances of experiencing homelessness. Demographic risk factors for becoming homeless include being Black, Hispanic, or Indigenous; parenting and unmarried; or LGBTQ+. Children raised in poverty and youth lacking a high school diploma or equivalency also have a higher risk of homelessness.
Covenant House meets immediate needs for food, clothing, safety, and medical and mental health care. They have specialized programs for young parents and their small children and for human trafficking survivors. And they help young people experiencing homelessness to advance their goals and achieve sustainable independence with education, job readiness, and career pathways programs.
Through a strengths-based, trauma-informed practice model, refined over time through decades of outcome data, they help young people discover and develop their power to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. Their continuum of care includes immediate care in their short-term housing program, transitional living and rights of passage program, public education and prevention, and aftercare and permanent housing support.
Covenant House envisions and works toward a world where every young person has a safe place to sleep and the love, respect, and support they deserve, and need, to thrive.
They are steadfast in their commitment to build a present and future of safety, healing, housing, and opportunity for young people facing homelessness. Covenant House is committed to providing unconditional love, absolute respect and relentless support for each young person who walks through their doors.
The five guiding principles: Immediacy, Sanctuary, Value Communication, Structure and Choice.
Covenant House is committed to helping every young person who needs them 24/7, 365 days a year. Their programs and services are fueled by donations from individuals who believe every child deserves to be protected and loved, philanthropic institutions who seek to transform community outcomes, and partnerships with businesses leveraging their scale to empower a just society. Learn how they utilize resources efficiently and maximize their supporters' goodness on their website: https://www.covenanthouse.org/
Happy Apple and Pumpkin Season!
I hope you have had a great first month with Pilates On Demand! I've got another exciting line up of classes added to the platform that you can find under "New for October." You also can filter based off of equipment needed, length of class and body part by using the Filter button.
New to the platform? For $20 a month, you get full access to the on demand library filled with classes that vary in length, focus and level. There will truly be something for everyone. And 20% of the proceeds will go to a different organization each month with a focus on social and racial justice.
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to
World Central Kitchen - Climate Disaster Fund.
Pakistan floods. India floods. Hurricane Ian. Fires on the west coast, European heat wave. It is clear that climate change is affecting communities around the globe, specifically the most marginalized community who lack the time and resources to prepare for the deadly disasters coming their way. World Central Kitchen has been on the front lines of these catastrophic events:
"As world leaders promise long-term policies to address the climate crisis over several decades, WCK launched its Climate Disaster Fund – and we will raise and spend $1 billion during the next 10 years to assist communities impacted by extreme weather events caused by the climate crisis. The Fund was initially seeded with $50 million for immediate disaster relief and to invest in long-term solutions that help build resilience for communities on the frontlines. Climate crisis-fueled extreme weather leads to most of the disasters to which we respond. The increased frequency and ferocity of catastrophic weather events requires us to adapt our models of disaster relief and humanitarian response. In 2020, World Central Kitchen spent more than $250 million providing meals for communities in the United States and around the world across a range of disasters from multiple hurricanes to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the $1 billion Fund is an ambitious commitment, it represents a fraction of what is needed to meet the immediate food and water needs of our fellow human beings suffering from a climate crisis of our making. WCK’s goal is to innovate and develop models that can be replicated across the world and supported by the only people who can truly scale solutions to states, countries, and continents: our political leaders.
WCK has witnessed first-hand the crisis of climate-triggered hunger in our own hemisphere, a crisis that is driving hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees across the continent. The more that people have fresh food where they are, the less they will need to look for it elsewhere—that means supporting communities to feed themselves and helping farmers to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
The goal of the Climate Disaster Fund:
Provide meals for hungry people whose lives are turned upside down by climate disasters. We will bring food, water, and other resources to communities in the aftermath of extreme weather events as they increase in frequency and intensity around the world.
Build resilience in frontline communities. WCK will be investing in communities disproportionately impacted by climate disasters, often communities of color. We will expand our Food Producer Network that began in Puerto Rico and recently launched in The Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, and Guatemala. By investing in local food producers with grants, training, and market access, we can empower communities to be more self-sustainable and resilient in the face of future disasters. We will also continue to develop Community Relief Centers, a philanthropic partnership with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Archewell Foundation. These kitchens and community hubs are built in regions of the world prone to climate disasters.
Change the systems that leave people hungry and thirsty. We need to start improving access to nutritious food far before disaster strikes. WCK is expanding our policy efforts to work with local and state governments to take the successful models we have developed and scale them up. We are also working closely with the Biden Administration and Congress to make sure food and nutrition are at the center of legislative efforts to invest in responding to the climate crisis."
To learn more about the incredible work of World Central Kitchen, please visit their website: https://wck.org/
Pilates On Demand is LIVE!
Happy September, everyone!
I am so excited to announce that my new platform PILATES ON DEMAND is now LIVE!
For $20 a month, you get access to all the videos in my on demand library of classes that vary in length, focus and level. I will continue to add to the library each month. This platform is intended to make Pilates accessible not only for your schedules but for your wallets. You won't need a fancy studio or expensive equipment to get an effective workout in these videos.
We will continue to donate 20% of the proceeds each month to a different organization, which you will learn about in my newsletters. Check out this month's organization below!
My goal with this platform is to continue to support organizations making a difference in our community while you take Pilates wherever you go.
Sign up for Pilates On Demand today!
Please meet our newest family member. - Zoey!
In honor of her adoption, this month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Hearts and Bones Rescue.
Hearts & Bones was founded in 2017 by Whitney Fang and Anna Blumberg, who met in 2012 through their mutual love of animals. Through the experiences of fostering, volunteering, and visiting shelters across the country over the years, they developed a deep understanding of the incredible importance of dog rescue and adoption advocacy. Hearts & Bones is the realization of their dream to bring people together across the country to rescue dogs in need and find their forever homes. Why the "Hearts & Bones" name? Rescue requires not only the heart - the compassion and love - for the animals that are in need, but also the bones - the grit, strength and persistence to rescue these dogs from their former lives and give them a second chance at a great forever family.
Hearts & Bones Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dog rescue organization based in Dallas, Texas and New York. Their mission is to build a nationwide network of fosters, volunteers, rescue partners and adopters in an effort to save the lives of thousands of shelter dogs in need and unite them with loving forever families. As a foster-based rescue, they focus on providing all of their dogs with secure and loving foster homes while they wait for their forever families.
To date, Hearts & Bones has rescued over 3,500 dogs thanks to their incredible fosters, volunteers, rescue partners and adopters! In addition to placing their dogs in adoptive homes, they also strive to increase the overall number of dogs they can save by partnering with other rescue groups who can take in additional animals. They directly rescue these dogs from shelters in Texas, provide basic vetting, and transport them to their rescue partners who then place them in their own foster and forever homes.
To learn more about their incredible work, please visit their website: https://www.heartsandbonesrescue.com/
My Favorite Pilates Props
Loving mat work and ready to up your Pilates game?
Here are some of my favorite props for your at home practice! None of these are required for an effective workout, but I'll continue to add classes with props so that you can find a wider variety of class options available for you.
Long Foam Roller
And here are my favorite recovery tools:
Subscribe to my monthly Pilates on Demand class library!