Pilates Mind-Body Connection

Pilates Mind-Body Connection

When new clients come to my Pilates and Barre classes and for personal training, the most common goals tend to be: increase core strength and improve flexibility, with close runners up being to tone up, improve posture, reduce back pain, or improve the pelvic floor. Pilates and Barre can help with all of these things.

When a client has been coming for a while, they are always surprised at how well they feel not just physically but mentally. The clients leave with a sense of ease and release in the body, with a sense of wellbeing. The emotional benefits of setting aside an hour in a busy schedule are valued by Pilates and Barre devotees. It becomes a priority in their lives, as they know how beneficial it can be to their everyday lives. While there is no overtly spiritual dimension to Pilates and Barre, it involves mindful movement, like a physical meditation. A state of psychological flow is often reached, where you become fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus and enjoyment as you concentrate on the precise movements. Spending time “in the zone’’ can help you to progress more effectively in what you are learning. This often brings so much satisfaction and contentment.

"Man should develop his physical condition simultaneously with that of his mind" Joseph Pilates

Many forms of exercise can be completed mindlessly such as walking on a treadmill at the gym, while watching a television screen to pass the time. This type of external stimulation can create a disconnection with our bodies as our focus is on the television as opposed to our bodies. Pilates and Barre encourages us to go within and connect with our deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor and create an awareness of these muscles and how they feel and function at any given time. The more in tune we become with these muscles, the greater our body awareness becomes and we are gradually able to take greater control of these muscles with our minds and use this control to move more efficiently, improve posture and correct movement patterns that are no longer serving us.

When attending a class or session it is best to put all outside distractions to the side and really bring yourself entirely to your mat so you can fully connect your mind and body.

Here are my top tips for getting the most out of the mind-body connection in Pilates and Barre:

  • Arriving early for your class. This gives you the chance to lay out your mat, gather any equipment together and relax before the class starts.
  • When you walk through the door, leave all your worries behind you. If your outside life starts to encroach on your mind during the exercises, rather than trying to push your thoughts away, focus on your breathing and movement and let your thoughts drift away by themselves. With time and practice this gets easier, until it becomes instinctive.
  • Let your instructor know if there are any environmental factors that are disturbing you - it is straightforward to open and close doors to adjust the room temperature, or block out noise. Lighting can be adjusted, and you can have an extra mat or cushion.
  • Think about the purpose of each exercise and reflect on whether you are accomplishing the goals in mind. This will help you to focus inward, on each body part involved in the movement.
  • Don't stress too much about whether you are 'doing it right'. Myself and the PBB Trainers give a lot of instructions, and modifications. Perhaps stop, refocus, listen for cues on how to take the load down. Focus on posture and alignment, breathing and centring. If you try to go into advanced moves when you are not ready you may feel overwhelmed and simply not enjoy the class. Listen to your body focus on one aspect at a time.
  • Thank yourself for making it to class, for being present and try set an intention for the class.
  • Community- The classes always bring a sense of community, which brings happiness and joy as making friends with like-minded people is always a bonus!

To conclude, always make sure you are making time for yourself in your day, be mindful of your movements in class (control and precision is always key) and be aware of your breath - always.

"Pilates is a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit"
Joseph Pilates

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