Lilian Jarvis and Meredith Sands Keator
A Finnish lineage of health
I grew up walking on my mother’s back (when requested) or watching her hang upside down over anything she could find to get a better stretch through her chest, or legs or back,
and I really thought that when she said “Wipe your feet when you come in the door, dinner’s on the table and I’m literally changing my body”, that this was just what mothers said.
My mother, Lilian Jarvis, is the founder of Somatic Stretch® and was a founding, principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. Thirteen years after leaving the dance world and not having stepped a foot onstage during that time, the development of her work allowed her to dance the coveted role of Juliet in the National’s 25th anniversary production of Romeo and Juliet.
She received a standing ovation in Toronto’s largest theatre house by a public that remembered her well. I was eight years old and I cried as the audience stood and called out ‘Bravo’ all around me. Prior to that, I thought she was just an amazing tuna sandwich maker and all around helpful mother.
Getting suddenly and strategically wrapped over Romeo’s shoulders and tossed up into the air only to land in some perfectly elegant pose as the audience gasped was an experience out of nowhere for me. I hadn’t even fully realised what she had been doing those (mere!) two months of training when she left me lunch in the fridge and went off to ‘dance class’. Next thing I knew there I was standing, with a few hundred other people, applauding her as she smiled out to us with flowers in her arms. Incredible.
In the 13 years she had been away from dance, she had conditioned her body to new levels that allowed her to dance this remarkably demanding role. Not only that,but at 84 (in 2015), she still looks stunning, and it is due to her years of developing Somatic stretch.
It turns out that this method she created and has taught throughout my entire life has been one of the best teachers I could ever have known – alongside my mother herself – and I have been teaching this work since 1986. It has given me the ever increasing health I have today as well as a remarkable insight into physical tensions and the ‘internal map’ they create to keep us pain free for as long as possible.
I watched my grandfather stretch his tanned body in the sun every morning on his country home veranda, while he drank potions of berries and herbs he had picked on his walk. My mother developed this health giving ritual into a teachable method, and I have crafted it into a business that allows us to reach others with our traditional, and now modern roots in healthcare, self-care and life-affirming wellness.
Our online training program is for individuals who want to improve their health and learn how to alleviate their own pain, and for those wishing to attain teacher certification.READ MORE ABOUT PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL TRAINING HERE