*Certifications now available at the South of France Retreat in July:

Jo Ann's next book due out in 2015:  The Concise Book of Muscles for Yoga, a perfect training manual for teachers, students, and anatomy enthusiasts.

community profile on 
Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones 
by Susan Bloom:  

It seems as though today’s fitness market is flooded with teachers and trainers claiming to be experts in the field of exercise, each asserting an authority based on a chosen

area of specialty or certification. Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones’s expertise, however, truly comes from a broad base of both academic knowledge and hands-on experience. Currently a yoga and Pilates instructor and formerly a professor of dance, exercise science, and kinesiology at the County College of Morris, the fun-loving 60 year-old resident of Cranberry Lake and author of several books on anatomy and movement has much to say about what she refers to as “the science of mo- tion” . . . and why less can sometimes be more.

NA: What issues do you encounter in the fitness arena today? Jones: There are many wonderful classes and instructors out there, but some are definitely not teaching the correct things. For example, there’s so much focus on having six-pack abs these days, but in fact the “six pack” only represents the top part of that muscle group and is primarily an aesthetic pursuit. It’s more important to work on strengthening the core and using it correctly, a discipline that involves the lower back, spine, psoas, and other muscles from the hip to the shoulder joint. The bottom line is, there are many different body types all trying to have the same look today, which can be unhealthy and promote injury.

NA: What is your approach to exercise?
Jones: I believe in natural exercise, or what I call “organic movement”—sound, anatomically supported exercises that feel good, help heal your body, and prevent injury. These exercises don’t require expensive classes or equipment or the latest gimmick or prop. I would say that walking is the best form of organic movement, as it not only activates the working muscles but gives you a good cardiovascular/aerobic
workout at the same time. I would recommend walking at least three times per week for a minimum of 20 minutes per session, or daily if possible.

NA: What about running?
Jones: If it feels good for your body, do it . . . on a soft surface and with the right shoes. I would also recommend running outside rather than inside on a treadmill if possible—the added element of nature helps relax and refresh you as well as support the immune system.

NA: What other exercise forms do you promote?
Jones: I think yoga is one of the best conditioning techniques for stretching and strengthening. Many people feel that yoga poses are hard and are therefore not natural, but in fact it’s very natural for muscles to strengthen in a held position—it’s called isometric contraction. Breath, stretch, and flow of movement (vinyasas) are also organic to the human body, im- proving circulation and enabling an emotional and spiritual connection to the universe. In addition, and with the right teacher, mat-based Pilates can be a safe and effective way to strengthen the core and extremities.

NA: What concerns do you have for our culture relative to exercise? Jones: I fear that we’re becoming a “Hip Flexion Society” from sitting too much. It’s critical that people take a few minutes out several times a day to stretch or walk in order to avoid becoming stagnant.

NA: You authored a book called The Anatomy of Exercise and Movement in April 2010 and are about to release a book on the psoas muscle in early 2012. Tell us about this new book.
Jones: The psoas is fascinating in that it’s the only muscle that connects our upper and lower extremities; it’s also known as the “gut feeling” muscle because it can actually hold emo- tions and trauma. The book explores the physical, emotional and spiritual components of the psoas muscle and its con- nection to the first three chakras and the energy system.

NA: Any last words of advice for readers?
Jones: Yes....keep moving!

The co-owner of Neat Retreats, a provider of fun and af- fordable yoga and spiritual retreats, Staugaard-Jones can be reached at or by visiting NeatRetreats. com. Her books are available at
Freelancer Susan Bloom writes weekly Health and Food features for New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press and specializes in topics related to nutrition, fitness, and healthy lifestyles.

natural awakenings September 2011 PAGE 19

You can also check out Jo Ann's other books, Anatomy of Exercise & Movement, and The Vital Psoas Muscle on, released by North Atlantic Books and published by Lotus Publishing, UK.

1)  The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement" serves as a bridge between biomechanics and the practice of sport, pilates, yoga, and dance, providing the reader with a complete understanding of how the body functions whilst being exercised. Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones' background in movement sciences has led to a deep interest in the ability of the body to heal itself, specifically through knowledge of muscles and what they can do. Awareness of this potential is key to the prevention of injuries, obviating the need for joint surgery, and the power to maintain health, weight, posture, strength, and perform well in sports are all clearly addressed in "The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement". 

2)  Her new book, "THE PSOAS MUSCLE: Connecting Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Aspects of the Body's Most Important Skeletal Muscle" is available by Lotus Publishing, UK, and distributed in the US through North Atlantic Books.  Click on the link below for more information on this fascinating muscle!