By: Dani Rosenthal @wellness_dani Pilates is the perfect balance of the body and mind. Pilates is a truly holistic concept that focuses on mental, spiritual and physical well-being. It involves a series of movements that centres on precision of movement, core strength, breath, posture, and flexibility. The Pilates method was developed by Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected. The Pilates principles are centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. These are all key concepts that are used to integrate body and mind.
Before I explain Pilates and the incredible benefits it has on your body and mind more fully, I want to tell you a little bit about me! I have a passion for all movement, Pilates and wellness. I absolutely love teaching and am proudly certified through Polestar Pilates - rehabilitation, studio equipment and mat. I love engaging with clients and connecting with their true strength, it is one of my favourite aspects of being an instructor and this is something that truly warms my heart. I love seeing the change that takes place in my clients’ bodies and more importantly, in their mindset. In the course of an hour’s session, whether this be a body stretching session or a more total body work out, I work with my clients so that, if they come into the studio in a stressed or anxious state, they can walk out with a smile on their face and feel more relaxed and confident in their body. It is genuinely a whole heart-connection that fuels my passion to teach every day and make this a full-time job that I love.
Physical wellness from mindful movement “Physical fitness is the first request of happiness.”3 - Joseph Pilates. We, as humans, have the control to make the necessary changes in our lives to create fulfilment. I believe it is so important for every person to move their body and, through Pilates, there are so many benefits. These benefits include flexibility, good posture, total body strength, tone, control to name a few. Creating a strong, balanced and connected body is incredibly important. Pilates integrates full body movements and requires a combination of strength, flexibility and core work. Your deep abdominal muscles make up your 'core' muscles which help keep your body stable and balanced, as well as protecting your spine. When your whole body is connected, you will feel the stability and strength through your entire body which is a very empowering feeling.
Pilates helps to strengthen your body through functional movement patterns that are needed for your muscles to work effectively in your day to day life. There are two types of muscles, global muscles (bigger, easily activated) and local muscles (smaller, harder to activate, deep stabilisers). Good stability is using the right muscles at the right time and at the right intensity. These smaller muscle groups (local muscles) are the supporting muscles that help improve posture, balance and coordination. Pilates isolates muscles that may be weaker (local muscles) and strengthens them to create balance throughout the body. A Pilates session includes moving the spine from flexion to extension, rotating and side-bending, all of which increase the range of motion and flexibility in your body. Beyond Physical to Holistic Mental Wellness “Pilates has demonstrated to have direct benefits on both physical and mental health through improvement of posture, flexibility, muscle tone, cardiovascular function, weight management, and stress reduction.” As well as the physical benefits, there are incredible mental benefits too. These include relieving stress, anxiety and depression which, in turn, leads to a better mental health. We all have so much going on in our daily lives and Pilates gives our bodies relief from the busyness of life by creating time for “you”. When you step onto your mat, you are there for you and for no one else, to balance YOUR body, reconnect to YOUR inner self and to breathe in YOUR body. Breath is a key component in focusing the mind and is incredibly calming. By focusing on connecting your breath to your movement, it allows your central nervous system to relax and this results in a calm state. Take the time to lie down, place your hands on your ribs and feel your rib cage lift as you breathe in and connect in your body as you breathe out. In your breath you are listening to your body, rewiring your thoughts and connecting into a
positive mindset. Pilates allows your body to unwind and release any tension. It is pretty much movement-based self-love that has the benefits of enhancing blood flow, circulation and results in a happier you! Pilates enhances your total well-being. It is about a sense of better self-confidence, control and strength. Mobilising your body can truly begin to free up mental and body tension. I find that, after moving and opening up my body, it allows my mind to clear and then stillness happens. It is a truly beautiful feeling. Pilates makes me stop and think about what I am doing. By focusing my mind and regulating my breath, it allows me to slow down, ground my feet into the earth and tune in with my body and my thoughts. It creates a more purposeful consciousness and elevates me both mentally and physically.
Transformative Power of Pilates Practice “Pilates is gaining mastery of your mind over the complete control over your body”3 - Joseph Pilates. The more you practise Pilates, the more you are allowing your body the chance to move, change and develop a deeper level of self-awareness. This change is physical, mental and emotional and happens through your personal movement and movement heals. "Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.”3 – Joseph Through my own teaching, I hope to convey connectivity, balance, empowerment and development of intuition and self-love. “With body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person?”3 – Joseph Pilates. With Pilates, you are able to transform, heal and align your body, mind and spirit. “The key is to use the mind to control the muscles of the body and to lead them harmoniously to work together effectively”2 . This ultimately gains greater body awareness, balance and control for a healthy body and mind. Finding balance in the physical body is the first step to balancing your emotions, your choices and your life. When we value our muscles for the physical integrity and stability they give us, we can start to feel more stable on the inside too.
References: 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6732550/ 2. https://blog.polestarpilates.com/not-mind-or-body-but-mind-and-body-the-polestar-essentials/ 3. Pilates Evolution: The 21st Century. Book by Joseph Pilates, Judd Robbins, and Lin Van Heuit-Robbinss