Posts In: pilates

Let Your Body Flow

August 7, 2019

Pilates is a workout. It strengthens and tones your body, tightens loose muscles, torches fat, improves posture, and corrects muscle imbalances. Most importantly, to benefit most from Pilates practice, you have to be all in, mentally. Joseph Pilates, Pilates’ founder, focused on the role of movement. Pilates is a no-break, continuous movement exercise—its focus on “flow” differentiates Pilates from other meditative-, stretch-based workouts.

As you progress through a Pilates class, each exercise builds on the previous exercise, flowing into the next one using transition exercises. Your exercises become more challenging—with shorter rest time between each—as the class goes on.  As you advance your Pilates workout, you can build up strength and stamina and develop your way towards a chiseled core. 

The quintessential, Pilates ab series is a workout for your core. Single leg stretches move into double leg stretches, to scissors, with no rest between exercises. You sweat, breathe, flow and mentally push yourself to the end of the criss cross exercise. My students tell me they are grateful for the final spine stretch forward, which is an active recovery. 

This combination of concentration of movement and flow is the hallmark of Pilates. Pilates is, literally, the body-mind workout.

I love explaining the benefits of the workout to my students. You take the feedback from the exercises and use it in your in your daily activities.  Our Pilates sessions prepare you for life. 

We all need stamina and confidence to be present, whether situations are joyous, stressful, or anything in between. Pilates can attune your practicality to see a situation wholly and honestly. Pilates teaches how to breathe through—whatever is happening—and push yourself. These are critical skills for having the emotional flexibility to ground yourself, then put yourself back together and out in the world.

Control

June 30, 2018

Joseph Pilates dubbed his training method “Contrology”. The control principle is the foundation of Pilates. This principle can be thought of as every exercise is performed with the intent of complete muscular control. Every movement is conscious and deliberate. The mind is focused on each detail of the movement. In the Pilates method, you move through each exercise using every part of your body synergistically, building strength, balance, and efficient movement. 

The exercise, Rolling Like a Ball is a good example of how the control principle is used. You have to focus on initiating the movement from a strong core, not relying on momentum in the exercise. Creating a scoop in your abdominals, you roll back on the mat to the tips of your shoulder blades and back up without changing your shape. Just like a ball. Your focus is maintaining the scoop, not just tipping back into gravity. The work is on keeping the shape, keeping elbows lifted, and controlling range of motion.

The Control principle can be used in everyday activities, i.e. while picking up a grocery bag, bend your knees, and mindfully engage your core.

Concentration

January 29, 2018

The concentration principle is the mind-body connection to your workout. As you exercise you are concentrating on the movement. You become aware and connected to the muscles used and stabilized in each exercise. As you concentrate on moving your body you will become stronger, more flexible and efficient.

The roll up is a good example of how this principle comes into play. As you roll up, you are concentrating on deepening your abdominals to lift your body. As you roll down to the mat you are focusing on keeping your abdominal engaged to lower slowly vertebra by vertebra onto the mat.

The concentration principle can be used in everyday activities anytime from sitting at your desk to picking up a grocery bag. When sitting on a chair you are aware of your back upright, shoulders back and relaxed. When picking up groceries, you focus on bending your knees to lower the reach.

Establishing a mind body connection to movement  will lead to more balance and graceful movements in life.

Centering in Pilates means physically bringing focus and stability to the center of the body. We tend to think of the core as our center. More specifically the center is the area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. Centering is bringing focus and muscle engagement to this region. When we engage these muscles we initiate movement from a stable foundation or center. We can teach our bodies how to use our core muscles in every movement, from the Pilates Hundreds to simply sitting in your car.

The Hundreds exercise is a perfect example: in the setup you are initially bringing focus to your center by centering your body on the mat and then, by deepening your abdominals into the mat. Your goal is to hold this physical and mindful connection through 10 breath cycles.

This centering principle can be used in everyday life. For example when you are sitting in a car center your body on your seat, drawing your center into the back of seat. You can engage your abdominals in towards the back seat and feel more stable and strong. This creates a mind-body connection to locate your body in space.

Centering can also be mentally and physically beneficial to help you stay present in the moment and feel connected to the earth. Explore this concept in your next  Pilates class or just while sitting in a car.

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