3 causes & fixes for rounded shoulders
If you’re like me at one time or another, you’ve probably
…done too many push ups
…sat at your desk a little too long
…driven too many miles
…took that slightly too ambitious group fitness class
…pulled one too many weeds
And as a result experienced some of that creeping stiffness across your chest, upper back, neck and shoulders or noticed that your posture was starting to get a little…slumped.
So why does this happen?
I’ve talked about this before, but there are three major reasons why your neck and shoulders get cranky and prone to injury.
1. Lack of thoracic (mid back) mobility
Even if you’re fit, it’s not uncommon to have stiffness in the mid and upper back.
This happens partially because daily life requires sitting and looking forward (driving and typing for example) and partially because most exercise programs are built with the assumption that you already have good spinal mobility, so they focus more on things like strength and cardio and less on can you move that one stiff spot in your upper spine.
But this post is about shoulders, so why does mid back mobility even matter?
It’s because your rib cage is attached to your mid and upper back and if it’s out of alignment and can’t move, then your shoulder alignment (and therefore function) will suffer as well.
So if you have a shoulder thing, you probably want to start by addressing your spine.
2. Weak stabilizers (aka postural muscles)
For the reasons I just mentioned above, most of us don’t usually have the best shoulder alignment and because of this we don’t tend to use our arms in the most optimal way possible.
Poor shoulder position + poor usage = weakness in the shoulder stabilizers, particularly the rotator cuff, serratus anterior, low trap and mid trap.
To most people that just sounds like fancy names of small muscles that you can’t see, but here’s why it matters. Those muscles hold your arms in their sockets and keep your shoulder blades on your back.
When they can’t do their job, injuries happen and all the big muscles around the shoulders that should be responsible for big movement, but not so much the minutia of alignment have to take over.
…which brings me to my third point.
3. Tight/over-recruited global (big) muscles
Here’s the thing about human movement. Just because a muscle is weak or compromised doesn’t mean that you’ll stop moving. Your nervous system will just take a new path to help you complete the movement you are demanding of your body.
So, if you have some weakness in the postural muscles that should be holding your arms in good alignment, it doesn’t mean your arms will stop working. It means the bigger and more dominant muscles like the pecs, lats and rhomboids will take over, which will often feel like stiffness and tightness in the front of the chest, neck and around the shoulders.
So what can you do about it?
This can get waaaaa-aay complicated, but here’s the short of it.
You want to mobilize the restricted areas and strengthen the weak muscles. This will allow things to move easier, while improving alignment and encouraging stability around the joint.
When you turn on the weak muscles, the big muscles that have already been working too hard have a chance to turn off.
How? Magic! (Just kidding. Your nervous system is just really smart and can moderate the change).
Whatever you do, guys, DON’T do Pilates! #MenDoPilates #Pilates
From yoga to pilates: why men are ditching the dumbbells and bending it like a bloke
It is 7am in a school hall in Stockwell and I am performing the Pilates move known as ‘oysters’: lying on my side, legs elevated, top leg opening and closing like a grotesque mouth. It’s an embarrassing position to be in, made more so by the fact that I am the only bloke in a class of seven or eight females, from lissom twenty-somethings to stiff-kneed 60-year-olds. In any other situation I’d be condemned for ‘manspreading’.
This is my life now. Twice a week I drag my baggy, 14-stone, 49-year-old carcass on to my bike and cycle to my local secondary school to do an hour of Vinyasa yoga (Tuesdays) and an hour of Pilates (Thursdays) with what my wife refers to as ‘your ladies’. Not that I know their names. It would feel awkward to exchange anything more than a nod with a bunch of female strangers who will soon be staring at my middle-aged arse as we assume the downward dog position. They don’t seem to mind my presence; possibly they regard me as a sort of misfit mascot — a testosterone novelty in a bastion of oestrogen.
My position is more singular at Pilates, where I am absolutely the only man. At yoga there is sometimes another, a lithe chap half my age and weight. I don’t talk to him either, because I’m scorchingly jealous of the nonchalant ease with which he swings up into a headstand. I try to batten down such unworthy thoughts, since they run counter to the mental calm that should accompany yoga. But I do still take a certain Pyrrhic pride in the fact that I find it easier to touch my toes than he does.
I’m not the only bloke cottoning on to exercise forms that have, for whatever reason, been female-dominated. For too long, Sting and Russell Brand perpetuated the idea that yoga was for self-regarding tantric navel-gazers. But Colin Farrell and Robert Downey Jr are now yoga acolytes. Martin Amis, Ian McKellen and Andrew Flintoff swear by Pilates. Even the grandad of laddism, Keith Allen, has spoken of easing spinal problems with yoga and Pilates.
‘In India, yoga started with men and young boys practising,’ says Catherine Sykes, the 27-year-old teacher at my Tuesday sessions. ‘The westernised practice is very female-dominated. In yoga magazines everything is advertised with the image of a young, white woman in a leotard.’
Catherine trained at Yoga London on Portobello Road under Rahoul Masrani, 33, who believes it offers specific benefit to men: ‘Men suffer from a lot of stiffness in our bodies the older we get and yoga can remove that. Aside from the obvious physical benefit of becoming more supple, leaner and stronger, there are psychological benefits — it’s a tool that helps us to calm our minds, which a lot of us are looking for in the hectic, fast-paced world we live in.’
Personally, I love the fact that both practices suit people of all abilities. They’re not competitive and you work within your body’s limits. In Vinyasa yoga we flow between poses, there’s minimal equipment needed beyond a mat, little contemplation beyond an awareness of one’s own body and breathing, and none of the sweaty anxiety that I imagine attends Bikram.
So far, to my surprise, I’ve stuck with my classes for seven months. If anything I find the Pilates more physically challenging than the yoga, but both soothe the back pain and the clawing self-doubt that are the constant companions of a freelance journalist’s life. In conjunction with a boringly sensible diet (fish, chicken, veg, a couple of glasses of red wine), they’ve helped me lose almost a stone — without compromising my masculinity.
Because it seems there is still a germ of male competitiveness lurking in my breast. I ask Catherine the question I really want answered: Am I any good? ‘Yes, you are,’ she says. ‘A lot of younger men are less flexible than you are…’ Ha! I knew it. Team sport is for wimps: real men stretch. Even if it is in a class full of ladies.
To celebrate Pilates Day this Saturday 7th May 2016 we are giving away two 60 minute 1:1 Pilates sessions (worth £90). For a chance to win please like and share our Facebook page. The winner will be announced this Sunday 8th May 2016. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions below for more details.
One lucky person will receive two 1:1 Pilates apparatus sessions, each last 60 minutes. Good Luck!
Terms and Conditions
1. Each session will take place at Body Perfect Pilates, 35A Church Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7QQ.
2. The winner must be 18yrs or older.
3. The sessions will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time.
4. The sessions are valid until 01/07/16.
5. It is your sole responsibility to check with your doctor or health professional with any concerns regarding any health conditions you may have before starting Pilates classes. While we take every care to ensure safe practice, there are inherent risks in any exercise programme and we accept no liability whatsoever for any injury or illness you incur through taking our classes, or by your failure to notify us of any existing health problems or special needs.
Recovery From Chronic Low Back Pain
“Pilates is a vehicle” – Recovery from chronic low back pain. Inspiring story on how Pilates impact the life of its practitioner in the most amazing way..
Why you need a strong core, even if you can only dream of a six-pack
A strong core is important for many things, including sports performance, injury prevention and daily tasks. (iStockphoto)
In fact, dozens of muscle groups make up the core, including the pelvic floor muscles, the transverse abdominis (deep core), internal and external obliques (side of the trunk), multifidus (deep back muscles), erector spinae (vertical back muscles), the diaphragm, the gluteus maximus (butt) and the trapezius (top of the back).
And they’re all extremely important, not just for looks but for sports performance, injury prevention, daily tasks and keeping the spine safe and sound, says Anne Viser, a physical therapist at Sports + Spinal Physical Therapy/Orthology in the District.
“The idea is that these muscle groups work as a team and that we need to activate and coordinate them to move efficiently,” Viser says.
So it’s far from enough to do a million crunches and call it a day. In fact, that could be counterproductive, because when large (often referred to as “global”) muscles — such as the rectus abdominis — “override the deeper, smaller ones, it can lead to injuries,” Viser says.
“The big global muscles create big movement patterns, but you need smaller, deeper core muscles to connect vertebrae joint to joint,” she adds.
To help clients create a balanced core, she prescribes not only exercises for the back and front of the core, but also breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing.
“Sometimes people are surprised and will say, ‘Why are you asking me to breathe?’ ” she says, explaining that it’s important to activate everything in the core from top (diaphragm) to bottom (pelvic floor) to create stability and prevent injury.
A host of aches and pains can come from a weak core.
“It can be low back pain. IT band and knee issues. It can be shoulder injuries,” says Pete McCall, spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and adjunct faculty in exercise science at San Diego State University. The basic principle behind these injuries, McCall says, is that when one link (in this case the core) is weak, other muscle groups try but fail to take over — leading to breaks or tears.
And yes, that extends throughout the body. “If you are playing catch with someone or fetch with your dog, it requires core strength,” says Gabe Free, a D.C.-based strength and conditioning specialist.
The energy in a throw is transferred from the ground up, Free says. That means the legs, hips, core, shoulder and arm are included in the whipping motion of a throw. If the core is weak, it can put undue strain on the back or shoulder, which can lead to — you guessed it — back and shoulder injuries.
“That can pull the humerus out of its socket,” Viser says.
Similar issues can occur from other everyday movements, such as picking up grocery bags from the floor or lifting things off high shelves.
“If you have strong legs and strong arms but your core is weak, it’s as if you have two cinder blocks with a balloon between them,” Free explains.
In other words, not a very stable structure.
McCall points out that in addition to strength, mobility is also important for core stability. Many people — office workers and athletes alike — have tight hip flexors, which can lead to lower back pain.
“If your hips are tight, then the back starts picking up the slack,” McCall says — and often not very well. For many people, it’s a matter of increasing the flexibility in the hips and increasing strength in the back.
A strong core is important in just about every sport. “Even distance running, where people don’t always think that core is important, it’s actually key for posture,” Free says. “If you don’t have a strong core at the half-marathon mark, you will feel it in your lower back.”
In contact sports, which Free knows something about, having played rugby at Penn State, it’s even more important.
“If you stiff-arm someone, you have to be able to sustain that force through the whole chain from legs through the torso through the arm,” he says, adding that if your core is weak, your back will bend backward. Ouch.
15-minute core workout
Anyone who has ever had a back injury knows it’s a pretty dreadful state of affairs.
“They can tell you that no movement is comfortable except if you’re lying down,” says Gabe Free, a D.C.-based strength and conditioning specialist. This is why, even if you have only 15 minutes a day to spare, Free suggests devoting those minutes to core drills.
Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps each:
(Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)
(Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)
(Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)
(Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)
(Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)
To help clients create a balanced core, physical therapist Anne Viser prescribes not only exercises for the back and front of the core, but also breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing.
(Amanda Soto/The Washington Post)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands across the lower half of your rib cage. Breath in and allow your ribs to expand into your hands. Breath out and allow your rib cage to sink inward and downward. Watch that you do not lift your breastbone as you breathe in. Instead imagine the back of your rib cage spreading wide into the mat underneath you. Repeat for six to eight breath cycles
The Muscles I Discovered When I Started Practicing Pilates.
When I picked up Pilates again after a long hiatus, I found I had been neglecting some hard-to-reach muscles that deserved my attention
As a health and fitness editor and certified personal trainer, it’s fair to say I’m pretty attuned to my body. For example, the piriformis on my right is perpetually tight and I have a tendency toward quad dominance that I’m working to fix. But enough with the science-y sounding stuff—you get the point. I thought I had a pretty good handle on what that ache was, or what this move worked. But one foot on the Pilates reformer and I was quickly reminded just how much more there is to learn.
If you’ve never tried Pilates, or only think of it as a workout DVD from the ’80s, you’re missing out on some serious muscle shaking—the kind that makes you sweat without ever moving faster than you do when getting out of bed. (How does that happen?!) I first walked into a reformer-based Pilates studio three years ago. The reformer is that mysterious machine with springs underneath. It can sometimes go by different studio-specific or licensed names, but they’re all relatively the same thing. Back then, after I got over the fear of falling off the carriage—the springy moving platform—I went to classes fairly regularly. But a few months later when my classes ran out, I sort of let my newfound interest dwindle.
Fast-forward to about a month ago when I was invited to a couple events at local Pilates studios. I thought, “This is the perfect excuse to pick up the practice again.” (I’m a lover of Spinning, HIIT, and barre, so I’m ALL about that cross-training and thought if nothing else, this would at least stretch my sore muscles after a tough ride.) After the first 10 minutes or so (it takes some time to get your sea carriage legs on, OK?), I started to remember just how great this felt! I began to notice that my pelvic alignment needed some readjusting (I thought all my work at the barre fixed that!), and then I felt some really good work in my back and sides of my body. By the end of class, I felt re-energized—I found new goals to make, rediscovered muscles I’d totally forgotten about, and noticed areas of my body I didn’t even realize I was neglecting. Here are some of the muscles I found, along with some insight from Amy Jordan, owner and instructor at WundaBar Pilates, on how the technique so expertly targets those tough-to-reach spots.
Pilates forces you to fire up deep intrinsic muscles like the multifidi, which runs the length of and surrounds your spine, and the transverse abdominis, which is essentially your body’s natural girdle. Stabilizer muscles do just that: stabilize. They stabilize your spine, your pelvis, and your core. Focusing on what’s happening inside and holding strong in your middle is what allows you to control the movements instead of letting gravity and momentum pull you and the carriage back to neutral.
“What I like to always say is that we move from the inside out,” says Jordan of the Pilates technique both on and off the machine. “We get deeper than the muscles. We move from the bones outward focusing on bone alignment and how they rotate around the joint.” This type of functional exercise takes what you learn in class and applies it to how to move outside. All that core work has helped me stay strong and upright even when I’m sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. Plus those deep core muscles (P.S. Your core is both your abdominals and back—think of it as a band that wraps around your middle) are responsible for flat abs. What good is a six-pack if it’s sitting on a bloated belly?
The move that burns: Think you have a strong core just because you plank regularly? You’re in for a real treat when you try to plank or mountain climb on a moving carriage. Standing on the front platform, face the carriage and grab the sides with each hand as you slide the carriage back, coming to a high-plank position. Holding steady without moving the carriage is hard enough, but when the instructor asks you to do the same while you perform mountain climbers, it takes things to a whole new level—activating your stabilizers is the only way you’ll get through it. P.S. This is usually the “warm-up”!
You might have trouble just pronouncing the name of this muscle (it’s actually two muscles working in tandem), but it’s even harder to actually find the iliopsoas. Pilates helped me do it! The iliopsoas connects the lower spine and hip with the front of your thigh. The tiny iliopsoas is not something you’ll ever see in the mirror, but you’ll certainly feel its effects. Jordan explains that it plays an important role in many everyday movements. “It allows you to bend side to side and flex your spine [curl forward],” she says. “If it’s tight, you’ll have weak abdominals and it greatly affects your posture.”
Although I know it’s there, it was difficult to really “feel” the iliopsoas at work (there’s lots of sweating and shaking happening on that machine, after all). Jordan suggested I try the trick below during my next class.
The move that burns: While performing a lunge with one foot on the platform and the other on the carriage, draw the carriage all the way in as you raise to standing, allowing it to touch the bumpers (between platform and carriage). She said that I should then imagine that I could pull the carriage through the platform as if trying to blast through it. Aha! There you are, iliopsoas.
You know, the area that sort of cups your booty? This is really just the top fibers of your hamstring, says Jordan. Okay, so the hamstrings are not exactly a small muscle, nor one that we generally fail to target, but hear me out. I squat, I dip, I bridge, I lunge, I curl, I press—all of which work my hammies, glute max, and with a few tweaks, my glute med. But it’s your “under butt” that’s responsible for giving you a round, lifted tush. Or unfortunately, if left alone, a pancake booty. A few classes in and I already felt the backside of my legs tighten and my glutes seemed lifted as a result.
Jordan says Pilates, both on the mat and on the machines, focuses on both strengthening and lengthening the body, which is why you feel even the upper fibers of your larger muscle groups—that full extension reaches farther and deeper than you would with a shorter movement. You work against the pull of the springs and ropes to create long, lean, and toned muscles while also developing strength and stability in your core.
The move that burns: Standing with one foot in the middle of the back platform, opposite foot pointed and resting lightly on the pedal (a lever on the back of the machine), you’ll lower down into a Pilates version of the pistol squat. If you think barely tapping your other foot on a moving pedal is a modification for the real-deal, think again. It’s actually harder to retain focus and weight over the standing leg because that darn pedal tricks you into trying to put weight on it. Doing so will cause the pedal to fly to the floor and bring you along with it—not so graceful.
Bicycles and side planks will target your obliques, sure, but just one class into my rekindled relationship with Pilates and I felt sore near the front of my upper ribcage. I was used to thinking about the side of my body as my hips, or waist, but this was different.
You have two sets of oblique muscles—internal and external. Bicycle crunches work your external obliques, helping carve chiseled ab muscles. But static side planks work those internal obliques, which, just like the transverse abdominis, help keep your middle tight and tiny. With your legs crossed on the carriage, resting on your toes and hands on the back platform, pike your legs as you rotate slightly to one side and the other and—BAM!—you’ve just met your internal obliques. P.S. They’re going to burn later. (Want more ab work? These 12 classic Pilates moves double as ab exercises.)
The move that burns: Fair warning, it might be difficult to lift your hair dryer in the morning. With your palms on the back platform, you’ll place the balls of both feet on the back end of the carriage underneath a strap that essentially holds them in place. Push the carriage to the front to get into plank position. Next, you’ll unhook your right foot, cross it behind your left, and resecure it under the strap. This allows your left hip to drop slightly. You’ll squeeze your core to maintain a stable upper body as you pike your hips to the sky, holding for a few seconds before repeating. The rotation creates a burn in your internal obliques like no bicycle crunch could ever think of accomplishing.
Teres Major and Teres Minor
Underneath your rear deltoids (back of your shoulders) are two small but important muscles called the teres major and teres minor. Why are they important? They, along with the much larger latissimus dorsi, help to tighten the armpit, eliminating arm flab. Triceps presses and push-ups work toward this goal too, but engaging the muscles in your back is what really sculpts upper arms. I felt these muscles engage in many of the resistance movements we did using the cables attached to the reformer.
Jordan says Pilates helps to open up your chest, which can become tight from slouching over your desk all day, by focusing on the entire backside of your body. Performing resistance movements like side twists, rows, and reverse flys using the cables attached to the reformer help balance out my hardworking muscles and are a much-anticipated part of class following a long day at my desk.
The move that burns: Kneel in the middle carriage facing to one side and grab the handle of the resistance cable with the hand closest to it (so, if the right hand is near the back of the machine, grab with your right hand). Keep your torso completely stable as you bring the cable across your body diagonally, from hip-level on your right to eye level on your left. This punching movement coupled with stability allows your back to take on the brunt of the work.
Although Jordan reminds me that Pilates is a head-to-toe workout, it’s such a great thing when you find a workout that you feel really targets your inner thighs. (Am I right?!) Zipping in and extending out, using the platform as your balance and the carriage as your challenge against momentum, really targets those adductor muscles. (Learn more about the anatomy of your leg muscles.)
Jordan says strong adductors are important for knee and hip stabilization. You can really lock in those muscles by staying connected to your big toe and second toe during movements, making sure not to angle your weight into the outside of your feet. Each class typically includes a move where one foot is on the front platform, another on the carriage, toes are out slightly, and you use the foot on the carriage to move against the spring’s resistance into a wide second position. Now—after you make sure you don’t fall in the middle of the machine or pull a muscle—you use your inner thighs and core to draw the carriage back into the platform in a slow and controlled movement. I never knew my adductors were capable of such things until Pilates.
The move that burns: To bring yourself into a wide second position, you’ll place one foot on the front platform, another on the carriage toward the edge, toes turned slightly out. Allow the carriage to open as you squat down into a deep plié squat. Next, harness the strength of the inner thigh that’s on the platform as you squeeze that leg in, bringing you to standing position. When you focus on using that adductor muscle, you give it some action that would normally go to dominant muscle groups like the glutes.
These are just a few of the muscles I’ve been recently reacquainted with, and if you try a Pilates reformer class (which you absolutely should!), you might not necessary feel the burn in your under butt like I did. Everybody is different. But I guarantee that if not there, then surely somewhere you’ll find muscles you never even knew existed. Happy piking.
Your body, your home. Take good care of it.
8 Reasons Why you should Try Pilates!
Having practiced an assortment of dance styles for 17 years, I have been exposed to many forms of body conditioning in order to build up strength and improve my dance technique One of the most effective forms of body conditioning I have had the pleasure of practicing is Pilates. When you consider the source, it makes sense that Pilates would do all of this and more: Founder, Joseph H. Pilates was a frail little boy, who faced many physical challenges such as asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Determined to conquer his ailments, he turned to the study of the ancient mind-body arts, through which he was able to integrate key principles from yoga and isometric resistance work. He came to know through his own experience that specific breathing techniques performed in tandem with targeted movements would dramatically improve his overall health, and would help
him to sculpt a super-hero physique. Little did he know when he began that he would rise up to become the pioneer of a global fitness revolution, changing the lives of millions.
So why try Pilates? Here are a few good reasons:
The “powerhouse” in Pilates is the term that refers to the main focal area of strength which includes the primary abdominal, pelvic and back muscles. The idea of a “powerhouse” encompasses all aspects of what total fitness subsumes. The physical benefits that one can reap from practicing Pilates, like yoga, are tenfold. Pilates is a “vitality supercharger.” You engage the mind to move the body as an integrated whole concurrently with breath. Movement is economised by activating only those muscles that are required to perform an exercise with grace, control and precision. Freshly oxygenated blood is pumped throughout the entire body, galvanising the lymphatic system, which aids in the removal of toxins. Endorphin and serotonin production is stimulated in abundance which triggers a euphoric sense of total wellbeing.
Pilates is unmatched in the arena of total body toning and conditioning. Pilates is a gentle but challenging, gravity-defying system of physical conditioning that focuses on body placement and increasing awareness of your capabilities and untapped resources. It changes your body and makes it longer, leaner and stronger. It empowers you as it helps you create the body you’ve always wanted
Pilates is so effective, and so powerful, that when taught properly, it makes your entire body stronger and more flexible in no time at all. People report dropping inches in mere weeks. It helps your body to know what good posture feels like right away and quickly improves your breathing, which also enhances your mood and general outlook on life. Even after one class, you’ll look and feel taller, more energized, more capable and more alive.Roblox Hack Free Robux
Powerful Cross-training Tool
Pilates is an incredibly effective cross-training activity. It makes any sport you love even better. Pilates not only strengthens the weaker muscles and gives the dominant muscles a break by demanding that you work symmetrically, it also makes you more aware of your body, thereby enhancing coordination, alignment, balance, power and precision. With age, the synovial fluid that protects our joints diminishes, and Pilates helps to keep the surrounding muscles strong to alleviate any burden on the joints. It aids with arthritic relief because the precise movements lubricate the joint capsule itself, and relieve inflammation.
Aspiring dancers like myself have used Pilates as a secret weapon to strengthen our abdominals and our bodies, so that we can jump higher, turn faster and move with greater control and grace. My dance teachers incorporated various Pilate’s exercises into daily dance class to help me become the best dancer I could be. This kept me inspired, injury free and powerful!
“Economy of movement” is one of Pilates’ foundational principles, meaning that you learn how to focus your efforts with precision and engage only those muscles that are required to successfully perform the exercise. The rest of the body breathes and participates but does not strain. Because every movement in Pilates emanates from the core, it keeps you balanced by applying both sides of the body symmetrically in order to carry out each exercise successfully. Every exercise focuses on the core muscles of the torso, and includes specific breathing patterns for each exercise that teaches you how to channel energy to those targeted areas while relaxing the rest of the body.
Quality over QuantityPilates requires a few number of repetitions with the greatest amount precision and control, which enables you to get the most out of your workout, while promoting your focus and determination. Rather than feeling drained and exhausted, Pilates energises and inspires you to make each movement count. The result? Greater overall muscular stamina and considerable skill, mindfully accomplished, with less effort.
Pilates triggers the magical chain of chemical responses in the body, chief among them the release of endorphins, which reduces stress and improves the quality of your sleep. The very nature of Pilates asks that you silence the mind by giving it single-focus tasks that engage it fully, and in so doing, creates freedom from the stresses we endure in the outside world. Every movement emanates from the core, and since our core is also the seat of our emotions, the exercises themselves help to truly balance us. When you focus your attention on the moment and act in harmony with time, you experience inner peace and fulfilment. By staying in the present, you can do less, yet gain more; paradoxically, you create more personal power and energy, enabling you to have a greater influence over the outcome both in your sessions and long after you leave the studio.
Pilates is similar to the practice of yoga, which promotes consciousness and facilitates personal evolution and transformation. The subtle magic of the work is that it grows as you do. Pilates provides a platform through which you are able to rise to higher levels of capability as your self-awareness and experience deepen. As you become more mindful of your movement, your actual physical strength increases, you are able to perfect form and shape. Pilates sees physical activity as a way of establishing total harmony of body, mind and spirit; under this notion, exercise becomes the means to experiencing a personal potential greater than the physical skills themselves. When you feel a sense of true accomplishment and fulfilment by virtue of your own efforts, you feel purposeful, hopeful and capable.
So take it from a dancer and give Pilates a try! It’s so worth it!