Why Practice Pilates?

 Why Practice Pilates?

By Jennifer Kelleher

Have you ever tried Pilates? While I had taken some classes before, I really got into the practice about nine years ago around the time that I was pregnant with my son. Even though I was an athlete through college, something I lacked was core strength– and being tall and a little bit shy, I would often hunch my shoulders forward. As I began to practice Pilates regularly, I started to notice huge positive changes in my core strength and posture, and, to my surprise, additional benefits that I was not expecting.

One of my favorite things about Pilates is the awareness it brings off the mat. In large, Pilates exercises are about properly aligning the spine, and then stabilizing the core to maintain this alignment while mobilizing the limbs on the rhythm of the breath. What you feel in your body when you do this opens your mind and helps you to engage the correct muscles outside of the Pilates studio in your everyday activities. Whether you are sitting at a desk, carrying grocery bags, climbing stairs, walking, or even falling, incorporating weekly Pilates classes into your routine will help you do whatever you are doing gracefully and in proper alignment, keeping your body well and balanced. I have also found that I use what I learn in Pilates in other forms of exercise. Whether I am running, biking, rowing, lifting weights, using kettlebells, or doing TRX, Pilates is the foundation of my posture and alignment, and it has undoubtedly increased my performance. In other words, your Pilates routine is so much more than an hour-long practice you do once or twice a week– it educates you on how to properly move and breathe throughout all areas of your life.

Another great benefit of Pilates is the feeling of confidence you get from the practice. Having a strong core that supports you in standing up tall and aligned allows you to feel more self-assured and vibrant. When the physical body is stable and centered, your energy can flow easily through it without getting stuck or squeezed out of areas. Also, your movements become more fluid and effortless. All of this leaves you feeling embodied and energized, which is a great way to feel.

Additionally, in Pilates, the mind is very focused on the breath and maintaining proper body alignment as you move through the exercises, which makes it somewhat of a moving meditation. Many studies show that Pilates helps to calm the mind and emotions, relieving anxiety, depression, fear, and stress, increasing creativity, and even helping to fight addiction and improve positive habits. Also, the coordination that the practice involves works to improve brain function and memory.

Moreover, the deep muscle activation that takes place in Pilates has an extremely calming effect on the nervous system. Your core is so much more than a six-pack– it actually consists of 29 muscles, and learning to use them is like a cleansing rinse for your nervous system. A healthy nervous system allows good communication between the brain and body, as well as releases hormones to fight stress and boost mood.

These are just a few of my favorite reasons to practice Pilates! Both men and women can benefit greatly from this form of exercise (When my father takes my classes, he says he has to adjust his car mirrors because he grows an inch!).

If you’re curious about trying Pilates, you can join classes at Ocean Bliss Yoga Studio every Monday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Sign up at oceanblissyoga.net.

Private sessions are also available. Call me at 917-318-1168 to inquire.

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