June 29, 2020
Some people use Pilates as a form of rehabilitation while others strap themselves onto the reformer for a full-body workout. No matter your motivations, the way Pilates affects your brain is a great reason to spend more time on the reformer.
“Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”
Joseph Pilates designed his method of training to create harmony between body and mind by combining aspects of mental focus and breath awareness with the physicality of body conditioning. The core principles of Pilates (centering, concentration, control, precision, flow and breath) not only apply to our physical practice but can also be an effective way to develop mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a word that has been in the press a lot recently – and there’s an assumption that it’s primarily for people who meditate but we can assure you it’s for everyone! Quite simply – it’s learning to be present in your mind and body as a way to help try and prevent your anxiety or stress to take you over. Mindfulness can be practiced in everyday life and through everyday activities, so once you have mastered mindfulness through your Pilates practice, you can start to apply it to other areas of your life.
Pilates is an excellent form of mindful movement that can be effective for stress relief. Rather than rushing through the movements to get your heart pumping and muscles burning, Pilates forces you to move slowly and move with intention. This brings your awareness to your body as it moves and how it feels in the moment.
Here, we share some examples of how we can apply Pilates mindfulness into everyday life.
“Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.”
Pilates helps connect the mind to the body. When we practice Pilates, we are thinking about our breath, our movement,how the equipment is working, what muscles are moving, all the way down to every last detail. With that said, we can apply the same mindfulness practices to our lives by focusing on the small details of life around us.
The next time you are going for a walk, ditch the headphones and listen to what’s going on around you, how you feel when you breathe in deeply, and feel the air enter and exit your lungs. This kind of mindfulness will bring you into the present, allowing you to focus, alleviate stress, and bring enjoyment and positivity into your day.
LEARN THE ART OF BALANCE
Life is about balance and we practice balance in Pilates. We practice close to perfect posture in our exercises, where our core is strong and engaged but also strive for muscular balance. We ensure our movements are aligned and our bodies are strengthened evenly. Our goal is to create a well-rounded, strong and flexible, balance body and this too can also be applied to life outside of the studio.
For a healthy, happy life we have to create balance of both mind and body which can be quite challenging given that as people, we tend to become enthralled with responsibility, causing us to prioritize things over others, throwing our mental and physical balance off. For many people, achieving the right work-life balance can be tricky and many suffer from burn-out from prioritizing work over spending time with loved ones, pursuing one’s passions, and resting. One way to help combat this is to disconnect. Allocate time in the day where you leave your work to do something FOR YOU and spend more time with the people, things, and activities that you love.
LEARN TO CENTER YOURSELF
Before any Pilates practice, we find breath and we engage our core muscles to find strength and stability before we move. It’s from our core that all energy of movement is found. Centering is an applicable practice in daily life, as well. Joseph Pilates believed that centering would bring calm to your mind and spirit.
When you come across a challenge in life, we recommend applying these breathing principles to bring you back into your mind, into your body and into the present. Inhale deeply, become mindful of your breath and the challenge you face. Use this breath and core to breathe out confidence and strength and to prepare for what you must face next.
In Pilates, our sequences are designed to flow from one to the other. This causes our breath to align with the movements, the workout to become a fluid and our workout becomes seamless from start to finish. By flowing through our movements, we build strength and stamina. We can apply this principle to our lives by flowing through life. Of course, not aimlessly flowing, but taking each day and its challenges as they come. Tackle each obstacle face on, successful or not, then roll on, ready to face the next challenge behind it. Regretting the past or worrying about the future will only slow your flow, and, eventually, stop the flow.
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