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The Pilates Mama focuses on postpartum healing in Grover Beach



Going into motherhood, it's important to nurture your health and well-being. Natalie Garay, The Pilates Mama of Grover Beach is here to support that, with her Pilates sessions and flower essence therapy.

Garay is a master-certified Pilates instructor and flower essence therapist. Her practice focuses on pelvic-floor health and c-section rehabilitation. She's taught Pilates since 2004 while raising her three daughters, and her own pregnancy experiences are her greatest attribute to post-operative care. In her own pregnancies, she spent two months on bed-rest and had two C-sections 19 months apart.

PILATES MAMA Garay is a master-certified Pilates instructor and flower essence therapist. Her practices focus on pelvic-floor health and C-section rehabilitation. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NATALIE GARAY
  • Photo Courtesy Of Natalie Garay
  • PILATES MAMA Garay is a master-certified Pilates instructor and flower essence therapist. Her practices focus on pelvic-floor health and C-section rehabilitation.

"Pilates is not only healing to the body, but also to the mind and spirit. Healing will take place. I have experienced it over the years and I see it on a regular basis. To aid in the healing process, I incorporate flower essences. It's a magical compliment to Pilates for a complete healing modality," Garay said.

Her signature flower essences are homeopathic flower dilutions taken orally to aid bodily and spiritual imbalances. To give back to the local community, 5 percent of essence sales benefit the SLO Women's Shelter.

Garay believes that more often than not, problems from a weakened pelvic floor are issues that women aren't talking about but many are suffering from in their daily lives. Pregnancy, childbirth, and aging can weaken the pelvic floor, which can result in urinary incontinence (causing women to leak urine when they sneeze, cough, or laugh) or in rarer cases, organ prolapse.

It is possible to strengthen your body, and Garay is passionate about educating mothers on proper postpartum recovery. She said Pilates can take care of peace of mind while re-strengthening a mother's spine, abdominals, and pelvic floor.

"One of the things I come across is women not knowing there's a way to strengthen their body and regain their joy. I hear things like, 'I don't feel connected to myself or my body anymore,' 'I don't know who I am anymore.' It happens to so many women, but there's something we can do about it. It doesn't matter how old a woman is, there's always hope to re-strengthen the pelvic floor," said Garay.

In the tradition of Pilates history, Garay keeps her practice focused on reaping the benefits of nature to tune into one's body and emotions. Joseph Pilates, the German behind the practice, firmly believed in natural physical healing to overcome his own ailments. As a child, Pilates suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, all of which he sought homeopathic remedies for. His Greek father was an award-winning gymnast and his German mother was a naturopath who believed in alternative medicine. With their influence, he studied the arts of gymnastics, bodybuilding, yoga, and martial arts to help develop his own exercises.

During World War I, Pilates was placed under forced internment, where he trained inmates in core-stabilizing workouts to strengthen the spine, torso, and abdominal muscles. It was there that he perfected an equipment system known as "Contrology," conditioning the body with controlled movements and focused, intentional breaths in a mechanized bed.

In Garay's private Pilates sessions, clients start on a modern version of Pilates' famous cadillac table, where they build a foundation for their practice by focusing on their breath. Next is the abdominal muscles, where Garay consults each client's strength and energy levels to base exercises around.

Garay tunes into the energy of her clients day by day. She said she can "usually tell when people walk in what the day will be like," so she does her best to focus on that energy and nourish it fully. Repetitive workouts can help build strength, but her primary goal is facilitating an emotional and physical bond for those who might have lost it. Find out more by visiting

Fast facts

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Intern Erica Hudson wrote this week's Strokes. Send tips to [email protected].

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