What Does "Mind-Body" Have to Do with Pilates?

By Kathryn Russell

There is a lot of talk about “mind-body” these days and generally that conjures up thoughts of meditation and yoga.

But Pilates should be added to that list as well.

Pilates is an exercise program that develops strength, flexibility, endurance and core strength, all of which is delivered through a mind-body connection.

When you take a Pilates class your instructor will guide you to move from a certain area in your body (foot work – use your hamstrings to move from your hips as you stabilize your pelvis) but often we (me included!!) are thinking of the email we need to write or the shopping list that is forming in our mind.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to leave the “outside” world at the door and dedicate an hour to yourself!

But when you are able to do just that, the results are profound and will inspire you to do it every time you enter the studio.

Concentrating on the movement of your own body while you work deepens the work, making it more intense and giving you a sense of power that comes from working from the “inside out”.

Try this exercise with and without mind – body awareness.

Leg Changes without mind-body connection

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat.
  • Lift your legs into table top.
  • Lower one leg and then lift it back to table top.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Leg Changes with mind body connection
  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat.
  • Feel your shoulder blades flatten on the mat beneath you and your shoulders relax away from your ears.
  • Inhale to fill up your back and your sides; exhale to press out all of the air as your ribcage softens and settles comfortably onto the mat. Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale, flatten your abdominal wall and lift one leg into table top.
  • Inhale.
  • Exhale, flatten your abdominal wall and lift the other leg into table top.
  • Inhale and, moving from the hip,
  • Lower one leg towards the floor.
  • Exhale, flatten your abdominal wall and lift back to table top making sure that your ribcage stays comfortably settled on the mat.
  • Repeat.

Different, no?

During your next Pilates session try to focus only on your movement and breath and see what a gift you have given yourself.