When Pilates pops up in conversations it swirls in the praise of a type of exercise that creates long lean muscles, strengthens the core or is great rehab for a back injury. All these are true accolades of this magnificent modality, however there is a deeper connection beyond the physical and it is the power it has to focus the mind.
Pilates has been coined ‘intelligent exercise’ as it demands the ability to apply focused concentration to activate specific muscles while maintaining an overall awareness of the body as a whole. We often hear people say they discovered muscles they didn’t even know they had. This is the beauty of Pilates. Every exercise invites the application of it’s six fundamental principles of breath, concentration, control, centering, precision and flowing movement. Each of these principles we can use to directly connect our mind to our body……on and off the mat.
In this day and age of constant stimulation and multitasking mania, our minds become overloaded with endless choices which can open the flood gates to thinking about the past or worrying about the future. We become overly preoccupied in the mind and disconnect from our bodies. We are all looking for ways to help us live in the present moment - to be right here, right now, relaxed in a healthy body savoring the deliciousness of simply being alive. Pilates can be your training ground to this coveted state of pure consciousness, mind connected to body.
How do we do that? How can we get there? Please don’t tell me meditation…..
Actually meditation, a quieting of the mind, is the key to such a state of clarity and sense of connectedness, however for many, sitting still trying not to ‘think’ can seem almost impossible. In comes our friend Joseph Pilates and his creation of ‘Contrology’. The essence of Pilates is control. To control activation of specific muscles in our body demands full focus of the mind. This allows little room for restless thinking or distracting, mind chatter. You simply can’t think about anything else while trying to access these precise muscles. Shhzamm, you have just meditated - through movement. Pilates is a moving meditation. It requires conscious control of your mind to connect to your body. Just brilliant!
When we practice this method of controlled movement we are given the opportunity to train our brain to focus, to gain heightened awareness of our body and ultimately leading us to connecting moments of pure presentness.
In the ‘Pilates Path to Health: Body, Mind and Spirit'. Gary Calderone helps us to better understand the connection of our mind to our body and its transformational power to take control of our health. We highly recommend this read to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of this interconnectedness.
The brilliance of Pilates is that we are reminded of it's power through the principles on the mat, however the real magic happens when we apply it to everyday life. We can use our our breath as a guide to stay centered, allowing us to maintain concentration and control over the precision of our decisions to support staying in the flow of taking things slow.
Oh how we are thankful for you Joe and your mind body connected modality we love so.