In my 17 years of Pilates it has brought me many gifts and lessons. I love the repertoire on all equipment – the grace, precision, fluidity and intelligence behind it. It has been called “intelligent movement” and it is “mindful movement”.
The transient nature of retreat work means that I cannot develop repertoire work with clients, so what I teach as ‘Pilates’ has to be the essence and foundational principles that all schools share. This enables my clients to take the mindful intelligent movement to their own movement practices when they go home. I love to share this intelligent mindful movement form that has helped me so much over the years.
Joseph Pilates called it “Contrology” because it is about the control of movement, mind and breath. How many principles he intended are disagreed upon in all the schools, but for me they encompass:
- Full breath throughout the practice that is soft, compassionate and respects your energy levels,
- Fluidity (flow) of movement throughout the range of movement ends promotes stability and flexibility – the balance of these is ‘mobility’,
- Focus (concentration) of the mind on the movement and breath working together that creates mindfulness,
- Precision of the movements supports correct alignment for your body at that time,
- All movements radiate from the centre out to the periphery like a starfish interconnected yet dissociative,
- Control of all of this together and as individual parts to make a full connection of mind and body throughout the flow and concentration of all movements.
Benefits I feel and see of Pilates
I take Pilates into all my movement habits and my mind. In my clients and myself I have seen:
- It creates awareness of our physical body and it’s alignment, aka Posture.
- Intelligent deactivation and correct activation of muscles to move bones, aka nice muscle tone that is not rigid or stiff.
- The full exhale creates a correct core engagement for a deeper & softer strength through all actions. This allows for more ease & less tension.
- Mindful connection to the chain of movements in my body.
- Mobility throughout the body that is balanced strength and flexibility for all.
- A calmer & more focused mind.
- Confidence in balance & getting back up from falling.
- Leaner body as the movement form encourages parasympathetic nervous system to work so we digest better with increased muscle tone = burn more calories! Plus, brain power for concentration uses more calories that mindless movement forms!
- Weight-bearing improves bone density to help prevent osteoporosis.
- Prevention of injuries – I can feel the days when my injuries are less stable and choose not to push them. Areas never injured are more stable and mobile, so less likely to be injured.
- Faster recovery time from injuries or training because your body is stronger and able to know how to reconnect itself to work best for you.
- Correct muscle activation provides power for endurance training, especially when you become more advanced in Pilates and can really add it to your other endurance training.
Have I missed any benefits that you have discovered in Pilates?
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