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Pilates Lifestyle - Having a Balanced Body

 

Pilates Lifestyle

Life is Motion. Pilates is Movement for Life.™

For so many of us, Pilates is much more than an exercise method - it is a way of life.

A fusion of the mind and body based on the reawakening of dormant muscle and brain cells, Pilates gives us the opportunity to live a life where the gap between functional motion and enlivened thought has been bridged.

 

Having a Balanced Body®

Mary Bowen, an original Pilates Elder, writes on her web site: “As I practice, teach and observe (the Pilates Method), there is always a spiritual uplift and buoyancy that comes from the work. Moreover, spirit is everywhere, isn’t it? The body is a house of spirit. Joseph and Clara Pilates knew and lived that.”

 

We can, too. No matter who we are or what shape we are in, we feel how Pilates enhances the everyday activities of our lives - whether it’s just bending over to pick up the newspaper or running a 26-mile marathon. And by becoming ingrained in our thought process it can move beyond the physical realm - essentially teaching us to effectively manage our entire being while providing a positive connection to our sense of self.

 

Now that’s a life worth living.

 

Rhythm

 

In Pilates

Every exercise in Pilates has a specific rhythm attached to it. The goal is to maintain continuity from repetition to repetition and from exercise to exercise. Creating smooth transitions helps our body to learn to move with grace and efficiency, which improves performance and decreases injury.

 

In everyday life

Being “in the flow” means that you are moving through your life smoothly, without being capsized by swirling rapids or distracted by unnecessary diversions. Creating flow and rhythm in movement helps to create flow in your life. Working on smooth transitions in Pilates class can help you to manage the many transitions in your daily life - from being a parent in the morning, to working during the day, to being a soccer coach in the afternoon. Our lives are full of transitions and learning to negotiate them smoothly will make every day a little easier.

 

Breathing

 

In Pilates

Breathing is the deep, focused inhaling and exhaling that initiates motion within a specific exercise. In addition, Pilates requires you to be keenly aware of your body and how it is moving. Breathing is the physical component in attaining that awareness. It helps you identify and think about where you are and what you are doing within a movement.

 

In everyday life

The Pilates principle of breathing teaches you to be better aware and proactive of the circumstances going on around you – be it physical or emotional – and not bound by them. It aids you in becoming acutely aware of a particular situation instead of just reacting to it.

 

For example, say you’ve just been unjustly yelled at by your boss at work. The Pilates principle of breathing might help you to take a deep breath, get your mental bearings, assess the situation and respond appropriately, calmly and professionally.

 

By not doing that you might instantly react and quite possibly do or say the wrong thing. This, of course, will most likely end up with the H.R. department getting involved and you getting a pink slip.

The fisrt option sounds like a much better approach wouldn’t you say?

 

Control/Precision

 

In Pilates

Control and precision are direct by-products of the strong mind-body connection developed by proper breathing and concentration.. When using control and precision in a Pilates exercise, it become less about the intensity or multiple “reps” that you are doing, and more about using proper form to achieve safe, effective results. It really allows you to stay within your body during an exercise and to move with better biomechanics.

 

In everyday life

Many injuries occur because of an incorrect or agitated movement made during a rudimentary activity. Ever try putting a discontented two-year-old into a car seat? Between the belts, straps, squirming and screaming it’s no wonder many of us walk away with a strained back.

 

But using the principles of control and precision will help you make these moves more effectively with less strain on the body. That goes for any other everyday activity - like bending down to pick up the newspaper off the driveway, taking out the garbage or putting away the groceries.

 

Concentration

 

In Pilates

If breathing is the physical key to attaining mind-body awareness, then concentration is the mental key. Concentration can be thought of as the conscious control of a movement or exercise which concurrently enhances body awareness. Proper concentration allows you to do as many repetitions of a Pilates movement as you can while simultaneously focusing on other variables - like being in the right position, having your shoulders in the right place or making sure your back feels OK.

 

In everyday life

By using concentration in order to make a strong mind-body connection, you become more focused on where your body is in space in relation to what is physically going on around you. This leads to more balanced, graceful movements and reactions.

 

Say you’re standing while riding on a crowded subway or you’re in a mall that’s packed with shoppers. Creating that inward focus will effect your outward movement. You’ll find that you are able to withstand the bumps and jerks of the subway car without being thrown off balance or pass by other shoppers without being jostled as much. We have customers tell us of examples like these all of time.

 

Centering

 

In Pilates

All movement radiates outward from the center in Pilates. The center refers to the abdomen, lower back and pelvis. It is often called the “powerhouse” or “core”. The center is where power is generated within the body and it is also the source of stability and support for every kind of movement we make.

 

In everyday life

The term “staying centered” relates to remaining mentally calm, collected and balanced in the midst of our often chaotic lives. This applies to our physical activity as well. Learning to work from your core can help you to act in a more centered way. If you are connected to your physical powerhouse, you are going to feel strong, powerful and calm and are less likely to feel overwhelmed or out of control.

 

Being physically “centered” also improves athletic performance in all facets - from track to baseball. A strong connection to your core creates more efficient, safe and powerful movements. The next time you are watching an elite athlete take note how their movements often appear effortless compared to a less skilled athlete. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is a great example. He set record after record in the Olympics but hardly looked like he was breaking a sweat. This comes from learning to move efficiently from the core of the body rather than using the extremities to generate power.

 

Balanced Muscle Development

 

In Pilates

The ultimate goal of Pilates is to create an even and balanced musculature. This takes stress off the joints and helps generate efficient movement patterns. The eventual result is a body that will last a longer time without injury because it is not being overused or underused in any one area.

 

In everyday life

No one is ever perfectly balanced, but striving toward that goal can help us discover a habit that may be causing an imbalance and learning how to change it.

 

Balanced muscle development dictates everything we do in our everyday lives - from sitting at our desks to throwing a frisbee. Many of our activities are imbalanced by nature - like holding a child on one hip, for example. However, we can work with the idea of balance to try holding them on the other hip, or when sitting to stay centered on both sit bones rather than shifting to one side.

 

And, in conjunction, with being physically centered, developing a balanced musculature can help us be more stable both physically and mentally. When we are centered and balanced we are able to respond skillfully to life's many challenges rather than creating stress for ourselves and those around us.

 

Relaxation

 

In Pilates

An essential but often under emphasized principle of Pilates is Relaxation. Learning to use just the amount of effort needed for a particular task without developing unnecessary tension is an important concept to keep in mind while practicing Pilates and in the rest of your life. We often think that working out should require lots of tension and effort. However, it does not need to be an all out effort of every muscle with every exercise. Basically, when doing a Pilates exercise the body must be relaxed and the person exercising learns to tense only those muscles that are working. All other muscles remain relaxed. This “selective relaxation” teaches us to use just the amount of effort needed to complete the exercise correctly, no more, no less.

 

In everyday life

It goes without saying that learning to release unnecessary tension in our bodies helps us to find ease and flow in movement and in the rest of our lives. The relaxation of these muscles allow us to move more effectively and to use less energy. How? Next time you are working on developing a new skill or honing an existing one like Pilates (running, golf, tennis or whatever your passion is), notice where your body is tense and ask yourself if you can release even a little of that tension. You may find that your movements become smoother, your frustration level goes down and you can suddenly see a new way to approach the problem. This is relaxation at work!

 

 

Whole Body Movement

 

In Pilates

Pilates is fundamentally about integration: integrating movement into a flowing whole body experience and integrating the mind and body to create clarity and purpose. This whole body movement is really the crux of mind body exercise. It is not tuning out while running on the treadmill with your iPod - it is an interactive form of exercise.

 

In everyday life

Our daily roles in life change based on our circumstances and the integration of whole body movement will allow you to transition from role to role easier and more effectively. At home, at the office, on the court, as a parent - wherever. By integrating the mind and the body you rejuvenate the spirit and are well on your way to creating a life of balance.