Pilates is as much a state-of-mind as it is a physical workout. Not only does Pilates re-shape your body but it also has the ability to clear your mind, fill you up with positive vibes and feed your inner serenity. And that’s just for starters!
Most people venture into Pilates as the promised land to a tight tummy, strong core and tighter pelvic floor. Others have heard claims that Pilates can ease joint pain and provide relief from physical discomforts.
Some have come across Pilates in physical therapy as part of a post-surgical or injury treatment plan. In the sports world, many have touted Pilates as a way to improve* their athletic ability and performance.
While Pilates can help heal injuries, enhance* physical well-being and improve* your game, the mind-body connection is what tends to appeal to people the most and keeps them coming back.
Given the distracted state of our modern society, people are yearning for mindful and health-oriented ways to cope with what’s going on in our own lives and the unpredictable world we live in.
While searching for our own version of inner peace, we tend to defer to more popular self-improvement techniques like therapy, meditation and positive affirmations, but shield away from looking within ourselves and our physical being as a viable tool to help us maintain balance and harmony in our lives.
As it turns out, Pilates is a one-stop-shop to achieving inner peace of mind.
Pilates Advantage #1 – Improved* Concentration
Pilates is not mindless exercise. All movements require that you focus on your breathing, posture and actions.
Your concentration is one of the most beneficial skills for everyday life and physical fitness. It is an acquired skill and Pilates helps to hone your inner vision and execute everyday goals successfully.
Pilates Advantage #2 – Improved* Memory
While our bodies tend to be physically resilient and strong in our younger years, the section of our brains responsible for memory and cognitive function starts to shrink beginning in our late 20s.
Challenging yourself by learning new activities and putting yourself in unfamiliar experiences is a great way to combat memory loss, however most of us don’t have an extra several hours a week or the discipline to learn a new language, do crossword puzzles or perform daily activities with non-dominant hand and leg.
Pilates exercises have the capacity to benefit our body and our mind at the same time. If you start to automate your workout, as in doing the same physical activities in the same manner, your workout becomes robotic and drains your brain instead of stimulating it.
Pilates Advantage #3 – The Calming Effect
Pilates is the true definition of mind-body by compelling you to feel a personal connection between your physical actions and your emotional state of mind.
Whether you want to or not, you must clear your mind of any distractions while performing the mindful movements required of Pilates.
Research has shown that our emotional state and breathing patterns are intertwined. In a recent study by Pierre Philippot (as cited by Psychology Today)1 a distinct connection was demonstrated between our emotional state of mind and breathing patterns.
Think about your own personal experiences with breathing when you’ve been stressed or scared verses your response to happy and more relaxed situations.
Rhythmic breathing is a fundamental component of Pilates. Learning to recognize and engage in Pilates breathing exercises help us to reduce* physical stress, aid in relaxation and tune into what your body is telling you through physical and emotional symptoms.
Pilates Advantage #4 – Helps Control Your Emotions
Our posture and other physical clues can tell a story about your personality and emotional state of mind. Over time, negative ‘emotional deposits’ tend to impact our feelings of fear and anxiety.
These fears and anxieties can take the form of teeth grinding, slouching and muscle tightening.
Pilates provides an outlet for your body, in particular your deep core muscles, to release and rid your mind of negative thoughts and emotional baggage we tend to carry around with us.
American singer-song writer Mandy Moore told Women’s Health that she does Pilates three to four times a week and that it’s one of the ways she got a good balance, health, and happiness through it.
Pilates Advantage #5 – Teaches You Acceptance
The mind-body connection associated with Pilates makes us aware of when we’re demanding too much of ourselves or others and gives us the presence of mind to step back and protect our health as well as those around us.
Pilates teaches us acceptance and to be content with our body and its capabilities by working within our range of motion and building up strength and flexibility gradually.
Through the different stages of Pilates teachings, we find strength and motivation to move to the next level.
Our personal progress and achievements when journeying through the Pilates experience allows a deeper sense of motivation and priority to ourselves.
When we learn to listen to and respect our bodies capabilities, this learned practice tends to permeate into other aspects of our lives. By re-arranging our priorities and desires, we can live achieve a more fulfilling and nurturing lifestyle.
Pilates Advantage #6 – Gain Confidence
Pilates’ focus is upon good posture and proper body alignment. While posture is a pillar of good health, it is also closely linked to improved* confidence and greater self-esteem. By improving* your body, your confidence will increase*.
You’ll genuinely feel better about your appearance. And who knows? You might even start fitting into clothes you couldn’t fit into a few months ago, which will definitely make you feel better about yourself!
Pilates Advantage #7 – Stress Reduction*
It teaches you breath control. This method brings out the fresh blood into your cells so that the oxygenation process can cleanse your bloodstream.
This not only increases* your physical health, but it also trigger a relaxation response in the brain and has the potential to reduce* your blood pressure. Thus with lower stress level constitutes a happy body, mind and spirit.
Pilates Advantage #8 – Improved* Sleep Patterns
The importance of consistent and quality sleep to promote a healthy lifestyle is well known and documented. A recent study looked into the whether the practice of Pilates improved* sleeping habits, in particular the amount of time needed to fall asleep.
The findings demonstrated a strong correlation between the practice of Pilates and the ability to fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer and awake feeling more rested and rejuvenated.2 Think of Pilates as a soothing massage coupled with warm feelings of inner peace and you’ve got the makings of a powerful sleep remedy.
Pilates Advantage #9 – Improved* Relationships
Establishing meaningful and long-lasting relationships is integral to a long and healthy life. Pilates teaches you to become a better version of yourself and improve* upon your feelings of how you’re perceived by others.
By surrounding yourself with other like-minded Pilates students and professionals, you gain more confidence in your ability to relate to and communicate with others in a more meaningful way in all aspects of your personal and professional life.
Advantage, Game, Set, Match – Pilates
Performing Pilates exercise regularly in your routine can provide many physical and mental benefits to you. These benefits are not only recognized by an individual who performs Pilates exercise routine but for all the lives that are associated with you.
It’s easy to focus on everyone around you and forget to do anything for yourself. Pilates gives you an outlet of your own. When you do for yourself, you’ll see an improvement in your mood and self-esteem and outlook on life.
1. Respiratory feedback in the generation of emotion Pierre Philippot, Gaëtane Chapelle & Sylvie Blairy Cognition and Emotion Vol. 16 , Iss. 5,2002
2. Leopoldino, Amanda & Carelli Pereira Avelar, Núbia & Basques Passos, Gabriela & Ágatta Perácio Santana, Natália & Pereira Teixeira, Vanessa & Lima, Vanessa & Fernandes de Melo Vitorino, Débora. (2013). Effect of Pilates on sleep quality and quality of life of sedentary population. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 17. 5-10. 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.10.001.
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