What is Mind/Body Exercise?
We hear the term mind/body exercise a lot these days, but what does it mean? And more importantly what does it mean to the Brain/Booty Boss Community and me at Create Move Pilates? Mind/Body exercise is an exercise that requires a mind/body connection, where the brain must participate for the exercise to be performed to its full potential. Mind/body exercise not only strengthens the body, but it also strengthens the mind and the connection between the mind and the body. This is why mind/body exercise often leads to more mindfulness, a greater ability to focus, and a deeper sense of self-awareness. A toned core is just a bonus. At Create Move Pilates we refer to the mind/body connection as the brain/booty connection. To me this connection also relates to the full body workout that you receive through Pilates, you’ll feel it from your brain to your booty, and the balance that we strive to find between mental and physical health through Pilates and self-care. At Create Move Pilates I encourage people to look within themselves daily and take the time to connect.
How is Pilates Mind/Body Exercise?
When Pilates is performed correctly there, is be a deep connection between the mind and the body. Pilates has a focus on form and alignment, because of this the Pilates student is often retraining old habits that have caused us to have poor alignment. This means that we must go deeper than our commonly used muscles that play into our old patterns and relearn how to use the correct, often smaller and deeper, muscles that we may have never even thought of, felt, or known existed. My students will often tell me that a simple exercise is very hard to do the correct way. This is because they are using a muscle that they have never consciously thought about before in replace of a muscle that tends to take over the movement and their brain is literally building new pathways to that muscle and getting stronger. Pretty cool, huh? I wrote a visually pleasing book that goes deep in the principles behind Pilates that help grow the mind/body connection. You can have it sent to your inbox for free here.
What is the Pilates Core and Why is it important?
If you have heard about Pilates before you have probably heard about how good it is for your core, and the rumors are true, but it means so much more than just your 6-pack abs. When we talk about the core in Pilates, we are talking about the muscles in the torso and their relationship to each other. The relationship between the core muscles in the torso help protect the low back, keeping us standing upright, and create a center where we receive our power from. This is why sometimes the core is also called the Powerhouse. When you laugh or cough hard, you are feeling your core at work. Many people go through life without the help of a healthy core. Instead of moving from their centers they move from their extremities, from their arms and legs. This is less efficient and can lead to injury. Once the whole body is involved from the core, our movements become more effective and graceful.
How Does Pilates Help Alignment?
Having a strong core helps with posture, but alignment is also addressed through a focus on form. Pilates is often done from a neutral spine, which is a spine in its ideal curvature. This alone helps to create better posture. The concept of opposition, or lengthening, also helps with alignment. Many exercises focus on lengthening in opposite directions, like Stretch Armstrong or Gumby, but less extreme. When your muscles are long and strong it allows bones to naturally fall back into their ideal place, allowing for better alignment to occur naturally. It is not unusual for students of Pilates to actually grow, or lengthen, up to an inch or more!
So, What Are The Exercises Like?
Pilates exercises are not hard or complicated. They don’t take a lot of equipment or props, though they can if you want to spice things up. Joe Pilates, the creator of the Pilates Method, wanted exercises to be mastered and performed regularly. Therefore, they had to be simple. The mat exercises use only your own body as weights and don’t require you to be a contortionist to benefit. Simple, efficient, and fun. Joe Pilates also invented several pieces of equipment that can be thrown into the mix, either to help a person through support, or to challenge a person through added weight or instability. You can see some of the classic Pilates Mat exercise videos on my YouTube Channel.
Who Is Joe?
Joe Pilates is the creator of Pilates, which he called Contrology (he wasn’t vain enough to name it after himself, his many avid followers did later). Joe began to spread the knowledge of his method while a POW during World War 2 in England. He helped to keep the camp in shape and rehabilitate wounded soldiers. He did such a good job that his camp was noted as the healthiest POW camp. In 1928 Joe and his wife Clara moved to New York and opened up their Pilates center in the same building as the New York City Ballet. Dancers quickly realized the benefits of Pilates to their movements. This is how Pilates became so closely connected to ballet. It was never Joe’s intention, he is a boxer who feels Pilates is for everyone, but a happy coincidence nonetheless. So, do you have to be a dancer to do Pilates? Of, course not.