December is always the time of year for reflection and gratitude. Looking back on this year, I am so proud of some big milestones that I achieved in my career this year. I am endlessly thankful for the health and love of my inner circle. And I am continuously awed by the support of our community around us - most importantly you. I am so grateful for your support - whether reading my emails, checking in on us via text, following us on social media, taking sessions with me or subscribing to Pilates On Demand - you are part of our "ensemble" and we are wishing you and yours the healthiest and happiest holiday season yet.
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to GrowNYC.
Currently, City Council of New York will cut funding for composting on January 1st. DSNY has opted to slash all $7 million in funding to community composting services including LES Ecology Center, Big Reuse and more. That also includes GrowNYC, which means no more food scrap drop off at farmers markets.
Of the three bin options that are currently available, the Orange Bins are rarely if ever turned into finished compost. They are turned into "engineered bioslurry," releasing harmful methane. The Brown Bins that are curbside for residents are also not being turned into compost. They are combined with sewage and burned into forms of energy that power local homes, and if not used there, they go to the landfill. The Green Bins are the best option - used by GrowNYC, Big Reuse, Nurture BK and LES Ecology Center. These are your community compost options and are your best bet to ensure your waste actually turns into true compost, used for street trees, parks and public lands with no greenhouse gases released.
STEPS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE CHANGE:
1) Sign the GrowNYC petition.
2) Reach out to your council member.
3) Join the rally on November 30th.
*Thank you to SustainableSABS for the above information.
GrowNYC was originally created in 1970 as the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC). Born out of the spirit of the first Earth Day, CENYC was initially a policy-based organization, writing comprehensive reports about quality of life issues like air quality, traffic, and noise. Our city has changed a lot since then and so have we.
Today, GrowNYC is a leading 501(3)(c) environmental nonprofit in NYC - helping more than 3 million New Yorkers by providing essential sustainability services and taking action to make NYC a truly livable city. One where every New Yorker can enjoy a healthier, more sustainable life. Their mission is to empower all New Yorkers with equitable access to fresh, locally grown food, neighborhood green spaces, opportunities to reduce waste, and care for the environment.
They envision a New York City where fresh, nutritious food is ensured as a basic human right. Where our foodshed is protected and local farmers prosper. Where all have access to places to gather and grow. Where they handle our waste responsibly. And where all New Yorkers, especially those with frontline identities*, are empowered to enact their vision of a thriving community.
*“Frontline identities” includes but is not limited to BIPOC, queer, those with disabilities, and new immigrants
Some of their programs include:
Food Access and Agriculture - their network of Greenmarket farmers markets, Farmstands, along with their Food Hub ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, healthiest local food.
Zero Waste - They blanket the five boroughs with resources like textile and food scrap collection, Stop 'N' Swaps, and free training to make waste reduction easy for all.
Green Space - They build and support community and school gardens, providing construction expertise, technical assistance, green infrastructure support, school garden grants, and more.
Education - They foster future environmental stewards by providing 70,000 children and adults each year with programs that provide meaningful interactions with the natural environment.
To learn more about their outstanding work and contribute more to their work, visit their website: https://www.grownyc.org/
There is no question that there is a lot weighing on our shoulders these days. The heartache, the grief, the extreme turmoil and distress, the anger, the frustration, the helplessness. It all weighs on our nervous system and on our bodies.
Rather than sitting in the despair and helplessness, I challenge you to move your bodies and give thanks for all your body is capable of. Even if you feel like you are at your worst physical fitness, or you don't have enough time, or you simply ache and have no idea how to get up, I challenge you to get up and move, even for 5 minutes, and give thanks. Because moving your body gives you energy and settles your nervous system so that you can move forward in your day and bring peace to you and those around you.
Wishing you and your families peace and good health this season.
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Save the Children.
"The first casualty of war is innocence."
Save the Children was the first global movement for children, boldly declaring that children have rights. They have championed the rights of 2.3 billion children around the world. Founded in 1919, they work in over 100 countries, doing whatever it takes - every day and in times of crisis - to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. They have the capability of putting world-class health professionals in areas of crisis anywhere in the world within 72 hours. And they don't go into communities, carry out a project, and then move on. They consult with children, their families, community leaders and local councils to understand all issues and barriers, then they develop programs that address these. They safeguard children and build trust so that their programs are successful and bring about real change.
In 2022 alone, Save the Children programs and partners helped 118 million children in 116 countries become healthier, safer and better educated. 250,000 children in 23 US states received over 5 million meals. 9 million children accessed quality education - including more than 4.5 million girls. 4.6 million mothers and 16 million children improved their nutrition. They helped 3.8 million children live a life free from violence. And they responded to 107 emergencies in more than 70 countries.
They believe that every child deserves a future. And because of that, they are working with both Israeli and Palestinian children by immediately dispersing $1 million from their Children's Emergency Fund to urgently respond to children's needs.
To learn more about their life saving work, please visit their website: https://www.savethechildren.org/
I've been reflecting a lot this month on self accountability. My schedule has had a pretty significant shift recently with all the different hats that I wear, and I keep thinking that I'll eventually get the swing of it and be able to work back in my good habits of cooking more, moving daily, getting that solid bedtime routine down. But I've not been holding myself accountable to the fact that I am actively choosing to not make time for me and for the habits I need to practice while also adjusting to the new schedule. That's not to say things won't shift and time will appear, but it's important to accept the choices you are making and priorities and habits you have built and make an active effort to build the habits you want to incorporate into your busy life.
And what better way to work on that than the start of a new month! I challenge you to pick one habit you want to build that would help take care of yourself and hold yourself accountable to it. I highly recommend letting your habit be adding some of my Pilates classes into your week. You have almost 150 videos to choose from. So let's get to it!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Guided by science and economics, and committed to climate justice, EDF works in the places, on the projects and with the people that can make the biggest difference.
Their goals: 1) stabilize the climate, 2) strengthen people and nature's ability to thrive and c) support people's health.
They're tackling the biggest issues and striving for maximum impact to ensure a clean energy transition, healthy communities and the ability of people and nature to thrive. Some of their initiatives include energy transition, natural solutions, sustainable fishing, hydrogen, clean air, methane, agriculture and safe chemicals.
They bring together people from all sides and draw from deep expertise to tackle environmental issues from every angle such as scientific evidence and applying that evidence to identify the most effective solutions, economic sustainability and using economic forces to protect our environment, powerful partnerships and creating alliances across a wide range of allies, climate justice and building a more equitable home on this planet that we share, strong advocacy and shaping public policy and taking legal action, and finally a commitment to diversity and making transformative change for diversity, equity and inclusion.
To learn more about their incredible work, visit their website: https://www.edf.org/
Happy Anniversary, Pilates On Demand!
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have been with me - whether that was Pilates for a Cause classes deep in the pandemic or now with the On Demand library, I am so thankful to be part of your movement journey.
Moving forward, I will be uploading classes as I make them rather than dropping them at the first of the month. I'll still send out my newsletter on the first letting you know where we are contributing 20% of our proceeds. But otherwise, look out for new videos throughout the month!
And if you haven't joined yet, you have 140+ classes at your finger tips with a monthly subscription. What are you waiting for?!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Realize Your Beauty.
Realize Your Beauty promotes positive body image to youth through theatre arts! We bring plays, workshops & camps to youth to promote self-esteem, body positivity, and eating disorder awareness.
Their mission: to promote positive body image to children & adolescents by way of theatre arts.
To meet their mission, they travel to schools, festivals and local theatres to present educational plays, presentations and workshops.
Through their workshops, students discover a new way of thinking about themselves, their bodies and about beauty.
Their workshops focus on fostering inner beauty- taking the focus away from societal standards and the pressure to be 'pretty'. They encourage students to put their energy into kindness, integrity and respect towards themselves & others, and focus on developing their own unique inner qualities.
They strive to educate our older students about the dangers of dieting and disordered eating. They encourage students to love themselves exactly as they are and to learn the warning signs of an eating disorder.
RYB is a not for profit corporation based in NYC, with program offerings in New York and Colorado. Realize Your Beauty proudly works in connection with the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Girls Inc.,
and NEDA (the National Eating Disorders Association).
To learn more about their incredible work, visit their website: https://realizeyourbeauty.org/home
If you've been with me awhile, you know that I am not here for diet culture or any language centered around "skinny," "weight loss," or image-focused results. With that, I understand we all have different goals and you have every right to achieve the goal you want to achieve. Here are some of the goals I hear often:
- lose weight
- get healthier
- get fit and toned
- feel stronger
- work on my posture
- ease my pain
- achieve "x" movement or exercise
- achieve "x" daily functional movement
I am going to say something rather controversial - Pilates alone is not a weight loss tool. Its goal is to balance your body so that you are as strong as you are flexible, mobile as you are stable. That means Pilates in addition to a variety of other movement modalities has the opportunity to allow you to achieve your goals. And with that variety, consistency is the key. If you want real results, you must consistently move. Find a routine you can stick with and stick to it, friends. And then, you will begin to see results over time. If you aren't consistent with your movement, your sleep, your eating, your hydration, your mental and spiritual health, then you won't see the progress you want to see or unlock all the potential inside you.
So, the word of the month is consistency. Consistency = progress.
Keep at it, friends - you can do anything you set your mind to!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Sisters of the Sky.
Sisters of the Sky are an organization of professional Black female pilots who are committed to supporting future Black aviators through mentorship, professional development, outreach and scholarship.
Their organization provides mentorship, fellowship, and camaraderie to women of color who have had little or no exposure to professional pilot careers. The goal of this mentorship program is to promote the progression and development of women of color seeking careers flying in the aviation industry.
Girls Rock Wings (GRoW) is their annual one-day aviation/STEM outreach program where they expose girls of color between the ages of 10-18 years of age to the field of aviation. They will have a discovery flight with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) who is a woman of color; tour an air traffic control tower; develop a flight plan and fly that flight plan in a simulator; and tour a static display. In 2018 and 2019, their GRoW event was held in Houston, TX at the Lone Star Flight Museum. To date, they have exposed over 100 girls to the field of aviation through our GRoW outreach.
To learn more about their incredible work, please visit their website: https://sistersoftheskies.org/
I hope you have been enjoying summer!
I lately have been focusing on what my values are versus what my priorities are (thanks to a wonderful presentation led by Nagela Dales through the Harriet Tubman Effect Institute - check them out here!). And I noticed that while self care and health are a large value of mine, I don't always prioritize them - I don't set a strong enough boundary around the sacred time that is taking care of me.
Are you mapping out time in your week to prioritize your health? That can be a number of different things - moving, mental health breaks, screen breaks, doctor's appointments, taking fitness classes, seeing a physical therapist, social time with family and friends, nourishing meals, laughter, sunshine. I want to encourage each of you to continue prioritizing one of the biggest values which is YOU and your health - you deserve to give yourself that time to replenish and refresh!
And you can always do that through my On Demand classes. It's the first of the month, so check out my latest classes that dropped today!
This month, 20% of our proceeds will be contributed to R.Evolución Latina.
R.Evolución Latina is an organization that activates individual and collective human growth through artistic experiences for transformation and social change. A Revolution of Evolution, Making a difference through the Arts.
To grow as a strong organization that empowers and unites the Latino community with full capacity to manage and expand our programs that inspire lives through the arts.
CREED OF INCLUSIVITY:
In order for there to be INCLUSIVENESS we must be JUST and FAIR in ALL PROCESSES. We must LISTEN, SPEAK OUT, and ACT. LISTEN. It may be uncomfortable along the way, but as we listen we GROW and EVOLVE. And as we grow, we must SPEAK OUT. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE when we MOBILIZE. We encourage you to use your PASSION to ACT. As we continue to fight to dismantle the systems of injustice, we know it will not happen overnight. During this heavy time, SILENCE is not the answer. LOVE IN ACTION is what is needed most RIGHT NOW. Whether it be the senseless violence against a person or community of color or marginalized individuals, we, R.Evolución Latina, say their names and continue to FIGHT FOR JUSTICE alongside our brothers and sisters. LOVE is the only constant through all of this chaos & destruction.
In order for there to be a REVOLUTION, we must first EVOLVE, and in our EVOLUTION we condemn any and all hate, racism or violence toward any group of people. We stand by our Asian American/Pacific Islander community as we do with the black community and anyone subjected to discrimination of any kind.
Dare Go Beyond by pushing my limits, taking risks and accepting challenges,
Commit myself to achieving my own goals by challenging no one but myself.
Respect The Learning Process by arriving early, listening and being aware of others time and space.
Believe that ”I Can” and to understand that mistakes happen and are necessary to help us learn.
Support myself as well as other activists by working together with my group and learning from around me.
R.Evolución Latina is an affiliate of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.
To learn more about their work, visit their website: https://revolucionlatina.org/
Summer is one of my favorite seasons. We may not have summer break like we did when we were kids, but everything still slows down. There is so much extra daylight, which means so much extra time to catch as much vitamin D as you can. Have you heard the saying there is nothing a walk can't cure? That's how I feel about vitamin D - time in the sunshine is so healing, so energizing, so soothing. And what could be better than doing Pilates in the sunshine?! I hope you take time this month to take your practice outdoors to double the benefits!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Brooklyn Public Library's Books Unbanned Campaign.
Brooklyn Public Library joins those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association's Freedom to Read Statement, BPL's Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves.
The American Library Association documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The tally is nearly double that of the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. Most targeted books were for a teen audience and were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.
Across the country, teens continue to face rising attempts at book bans, censorship, and political challenges in their local school and public libraries. Check out the campaign to see just some of the ways young adults can get support from BPL: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/books-unbanned
How has your balance been lately? That could be a loaded question with all sorts of meaning for you - your physical balance, your work/life balance to name just a few. Balance is always something to work on, both in the Pilates studio and in life. It will always be shifting, changing, adapting, ebbing and flowing. When we are young, we take our sense of balance for granted. As we age, balance is one of the things that becomes less reliant, less steady. And practice makes better. Check out my new videos for this month and may they bring you balance in more ways than one!
This month, 20% of our proceeds goes to Earth Matter.
They seek to reduce the organic waste misdirected into the garbage stream by encouraging neighbor participation and leadership in composting.
Earth Matter was conceived in spring 2009 to address the dual problems of resource recovery and healthy soils with a single solution: promoting the local composting of organic waste into a healthy soil amendment. We are passionate about resource recovery and healthy soil as primary goals of a 21st century urban environment.
The three founding directors of Earth Matter, Marisa DeDominicis, Kendall Morrison and Charlie Bayrer, bring together many years of experience in urban community greening. They first combined efforts in the Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust (BQLT) healthy soils initiative (2007 to 2008).
This project evaluated soil health in 34 community gardens and promoted remediation by organic amendment. Concurrently, they were involved in organizing the Fort Greene Compost Project (2005-present), a community based, volunteer-led effort to capture residential food waste for composting in local community gardens.
They see that:
We are officially THREE years in to working together on our mats virtually from all around the world and we aren't done yet! I have all new workout videos up on the site for you today that will put a little pep into your step.
Many of you have contacted me who use my videos to let me know what you are working on, what injuries you have going on, what specific needs you have and I use that every month to make sure I am putting out content that helps each and every one of you - so THANK you for your feedback. If you have requests, please feel free to email me! I want you to get the most you possibly can from my library of classes.
Last weekend, Adam and I had the pleasure of returning to Adam's alma mater Indiana University as he was honored in receiving the Young Alumni Award from the Singing Hoosier Alumni Council. We wanted to take this opportunity to give back to the community.
This month, 20% of our proceeds will go toward the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at Indiana University.
The NMBCC was born out of an era of campus activism in the late 1960s, followed by African American student groups creating a document outlining their goals to increase Black faculty, admit more Black students, and introduce Black studies programs. By 1969, the document went before the Faculty Council and was approved. The late Herman Hudson became the first chair of Afro American Studies, which is now known as the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. Hudson went on to create the NMBCC, which supports teaching, research, and service missions of the university, while also offering a positive and hospitable social environment for African American and African students, faculty, and staff.
In January 2002, the NMBCC was officially dedicated in honor of the first African American man and woman to graduate from Indiana University: Marcellus Neal, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895, and Frances Marshall, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1919.
The NMBCC has many programs including Freshman Pinning Ceremony, First Fridays, Midday House Parties, Student Development Opportunities, Black History Month and Black Congratulatory Ceremony. There are also student resources such as the NMBCC Library, Computer Lab, Counseling and Psychological Services, Academic Support Center, Graduate Mentoring Center, the African American Arts Institute, Black Center Film Center and Archive, Archives of African American Music and Culture as well as a list of Black Student Organizations and Bloomington Black-owned businesses.
To learn more about their work on campus, please visit their website.
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.