Pilates is a great workout for your mind and body.

Cheryl Kowalik

We live in a busy world where it is go-go-go all the time. Sometimes it is hard to fit in self care and or exercising. How about combining them both! How is that possible you might be thinking; Pilates is the answer. Pilates de-stresses, increases your strength, balance, postural awareness, increases your mobility and makes you present in the moment. Pilates regroups and refocuses your mind and your body.

By using your breath to expand your rib cage during each exercise it enhances each movement and also calms down the overactive nervous system that is stimulated every day. By using the Pilates principle of breath, it oxygenates the blood which triggers the brain to calm down. Pilates principle is slowing down each exercise to control each movement to target the specific activation of the muscle group intended by any given movement.

Pilates helps you to focus inward for the duration of the workout, by concentrating on detail and form and execution of each exercise; it is a full body workout not just focusing on the mid section but everything surrounding it as well. Each muscle and bone are all connected to make up our whole body.

Pilates can be incredibly powerful in providing a place for the body to relax, rejuvenate and release tension. By focusing on your breath, slowing down the pace of the workout and by using props you can relax and release the tension of your daily routine. Focusing on your breath creates a physiological response in the body that naturally reduces stress and anxiety. It also resets your thought process from the automatic cycle that your body is accustomed to.

Some other benefits to Pilates are increased flexibility, increased endurance, and increased awareness of posture in everyday activities not just during your workout. Pilates can help assist you in your everyday movement whether that be driving for a living, at a computer or having a physical job. Everything you learn in Pilates can be utilized every day. Taking a minute to breathe can bring yourself back into present awareness. This is where the magic happens, by letting go of the past and the worries of the future. Pilates may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress because it releases endorphins and serotonin that help improve mood.

One good example of resetting your mind and getting into a relaxed state is a 4 square breathing exercise. Think of a square, inhale for a count of 4, hold to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4, pause for a count of 4 then repeat (try this for a minute). Counting will stop and reset your thoughts and make your focus on your breathing. Sometimes it is the break your body needs to realign the mind and the body. Try it out and see what happens!

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