Spinefulness is based on the teachings of Aplomb developed by Noelle Perez-Christiaens. The quest of "d'Aplomb" as it is called in her studio in Paris, was borne out of her Yoga studies with BKS Iyengar. Noelle, a Parisian, was one of the first Westerners to study with BKS Iyengar in India. She was motivated to discover how to be "on the axis" after her yoga guru BKS Iyengar noted that her students were not on the axis.
From there, Noelle got the idea to study people who carry weight on their heads. She traveled far and wide to study find people who used their spines and skeletons sustainably in their every day life. Her research began in India but also led her to places like Burkina Faso, Africa; Morocco,and Portugal. She was forced to prove her work to her peers that spines were used sustainably by these people, no matter what their ethnic background. Her research and findings are recorded in her 29 books. Noelle's on-going work and teachings can be found at Institut Superieur D'Aplomb in Paris, www.isaplomb.org. Up to her passing in August 2019 at the age of 92, she continued to conduct empirical research and leading trips for her students to experience the physical and spiritual qualities of consciousness and connectedness that spinal awareness gives people.
Account from Georgia LeConte, Senior Teacher at the Aplomb Institute:
"Noëlle is, as she says, a pupil of the "first Iyengar", meaning the first period of B.K.S. Iyengar's teaching, until 1975 - the period before he opened the Ramamani Iyengar Institute in Pune. After the center opened, the classes became very large: 50, 60 or more pupils."
To my knowledge, Noelle is the only one to have really followed what Iyengar was asking: "observe !", "complete surrendering", "you have to search", "you must have millions of eyes", etc.
and above all, what he said to her, one day in Pune: "Go and walk behind Indian women, and observe them closely, copy them. When your shadow matches theirs, you will have made progress." When she really understood this, she realized that Iyengar was opening the way for an ethnographic research. The philosophical basis of Iyengar philosophy includes this ethnographic approach. That is the beginning of Noëlle's research in ethnography. And after that the beginning of her research on people in natural Spinefulness.
Aplomb was introduced to the United States by Angelika Thusius, a student of Noelle's, who came to the Palo Alto area around 1989. Jean Couch, a nationally known yoga teacher and author of "Runner's World Yoga Book" was one of Angelika's original students.
In 1992, Jean Couch began teaching this work under the name of "Balance" and founded the Balance Center in Palo Alto, where Jenn Sherer first experienced Noelle's work. Since that fateful day in October 2009, Jenn has dedicated her life to understanding how to be in her bones. By 2011, she was a co-owner of the Balance Center and in 2013 the name was changed to 'Spinefulness', as a more fitting description of the work.
On March 1, 2018, Jean Couch semi-retired to travel more and closed the doors to the Balance Center after 25 years. Spinefulness continued on under Jenn Sherer, forming Spinefulness LLC and establishing a new studio in Palo Alto, CA.
"I used to say that I can't afford my body. I wanted to get bodywork every day, but could only justify once a month. After Spinefulness, I have no pain and get body work for a treat, not to survive my day to day life."
Jenn found Spinefulness (Spinal Mindfulness) after suffering 25 years of back and other joint pains. She used to believe these pains and any overall body tightness was caused by aging or genetics.
Now, she understands that what she once perceived as aging isn't aging, but chronic tightness ignored until it becomes pain. Spinefulness revitalizes muscles and creates space in the joints. She can now trouble-shoot her own pain, and can show you how, too.
Today, Jenn feels younger and stronger than she did a decade ago. She's passionate about having others discover the potential of wellness at any age. She knows that the despair of a deteriorating body doesn't have to be tolerated. She loves to give others hope and help them unwind their bodies by understanding the physics of their flesh and bone.
Jenn has a B.S. in Product Design Engineering from Stanford University and is a student of the anatomy and energy of the spine. In her spare time, she enjoys golf, dancing, biking, sailing, walking and spending time with her husband and three children.