Zennis: A New Spin on Grace in Motion


If the wise and humble tortoise and the young and impetuous hare were to team up as workout partners, the newly coined practice of “zennis” might be just the thing to bring the two into alliance … and alignment.

Zennis was born at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona under the direction of tennis pros Horst Falger and John Abelardo. The two joined forces with yoga instructor and tennis buff Patti Juarez to give students a more fluid transition into the mechanics of the sport.

“Tension robs you of power and also distorts your stroke pattern,” says Abelardo, one of the two zennis instructors on the property. “Students new to tennis often hold the racquet with a Kung Fu grip. The Zen portion of the clinic helps warm the body up in a relaxed way, allowing students to focus on body awareness rather than mechanics.”

The 25-minute Zen portion of the zennis clinics takes place outdoors on Sanctuary’s Deco-Turf championship tennis courts. Students are led through non-intimidating stretches and yoga moves, many of which incorporate the racquet and net as props, to transition them into a state of calmness before the hardcore tennis drills and instruction.

“Analysis paralysis is often at the heart of any competitive sport,” Aberlardo says. “The yoga portion gives students a sense of calmness and grace on the court.

Sanctuary resort has a deep seeded tennis history having been the racquet club of the Hollywood haut monde in the 1950s and well into the 90s when the property was transformed into a resort destination. With the hump of the resting camel mountain formation as a backdrop, the unity of tennis with grace and energy seems only natural.

Zennis is offered at Sanctuary on Camelback every Friday from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. for $50 per person. Reservations are required. For more information, call 480.607.2300 or visit sanctuaryoncamelback.com.

Zen Moments 

Do you have a Kung Fu grip on your racquet (club, bat, Pilates strap, hula hoop and so on)? Before you step into your competitive arena of choice, practice the three steps of centering:

  1. Be aware of your breathing. Spend a few seconds focusing on your breath. On an inhale, fill your abdomen with air and exhale slowly.
  1. Find your center. Find your physical center of gravity, usually just below your waist, and think of this point as your center of grounding and stabilization. Focus on your center and practice five more deep abdominal breaths.
  1. Release negative energy. Imagine gathering up all the negative energy in your body and shaping it into a ball of energy that you are going to throw away. Visualize this energy starting from your center, and moving up toward your eyes. As you inhale, say “Let.” As you exhale, say “Go.” Identify a spot across the room, and imagine yourself throwing the ball to hit that spot. Imagine your center filled with calm.

Source: Mind Tools

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