Mindfulness on the Pole

Accessing inner strength in the most unconventional way.

AntonioDiaz/Dollar Photo Club

There’s perhaps no greater juxtaposition to the quiet, solitary meditator than the mindful pole dancer—they are, if you will, polar opposites. But the warrior princesses (and princes) of the pole fitness world have embraced mindfulness as a way of overcoming their fears and tapping into their power.

“You’re moving your body in a sensual way, and you can end up feeling a bit vulnerable,” says Kylee Sallak, owner of City Pole. “A lot of emotions can come up.”

Sallak, a former dancer, wanted an alternative to the competitive atmosphere she encountered while working at other pole fitness studios in Manhattan. So she opened City Pole, a wellness-focussed pole studio that encourages its members to exercise “from the inside out.”

Each class starts with slow, intentional movements choreographed to music. There’s even a “mindful sensuality” practice. Students learn a move called the body wave: you stand, facing the pole with feet shoulder-width apart and snake through the motions starting with the forehead, chest, tummy, and hips, moving toward the pole, one body part at a time. Once the hips meet the pole, you drop down with a bend in…