Manage stress with Pilates
Stress is a feature of everyday life
It is very hard to completely avoid stress but it is important for both our physical and mental health to find ways to cope with and manage it.
If you’ve done Pilates you will no doubt be familiar with that general feeling of wellbeing following a class or session.
Traditionally perhaps people associate relaxation more with a yoga practice and meditation. I’d like to explain why I feel that the principles of Pilates can be very effective for helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
The reality for most of us is that we are living in a fast pace modern world full of constant distraction. Simply by taking a little time each week to concentrate on yourself and your body can be extremely rewarding. After all, what is just 1 hour out of the 168 hours in a full week?
Slow down, focus and concentrate
When we are at our busiest, we might feel overwhelmed with everything that life and those around us requires from us. Making time for looking after ourselves can slip way down the priority list. This can be precisely the time when we need it the most. To practice Pilates requires you to slow down and work through each exercise with focus and concentration. As you listen, interpret and respond to cues for effective movement you have no time to think about all the items on your shopping list, that work deadline or how big the ironing pile is! You focus is on the present moment, as you move mindfully through a carefully designed repertoire of exercise. This could be described as a type of moving meditative practice.
Breathing is at the heart (no pun intended!) of each and every Pilates practice. Breathing deeply slows your heart rate down, relaxes your muscles and decreases blood pressure. Shallow breathing, often associated with stress, tension and panic, is replaced with intentional deep lateral breathing which is coordinated with each movement.
Find balance in your life
Taking time to breathe, concentrate and control movements which are precise, flowing and centred outlines the principals of Pilates practice.
Of course, Pilates by itself shouldn’t be considered a cure-all for chronic stress. However, it can be a very powerful aid to looking after your body, helping you become more mindful, living in the present moment and finding harmony in your life.