When many think of Pilates, they may not make the direct connection with mindfulness the way they do with yoga. Joseph Pilates intended for Pilates to be a very mindful practice, with specific exercises and breath connection, working into consistent movement from position to position. We thought we’d take a deeper dive into the idea of mindfulness and its connection to Pilates, showing the benefits that Joseph Pilates envisioned.
Mindfulness and Pilates
The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindfulness as “…a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations….” Anyone who has ever practiced Pilates knows that the proper breathing required to accentuate the flow of movement forces a kind of calm throughout the body, and the focus needed to achieve each position enables the practitioner to really stay mindful throughout their session.
Those in Pilates often talk about the “6 Principles”, and while these principles were actually created by Joseph Pilates’ students, they still clearly reflect the tone of mindfulness within Pilates:
All of these principles require discipline, forcing the mind to concentrate and be present – in other words, mindful.
Connecting Mindfulness into the Everyday
Some may find it difficult to incorporate mindfulness into their everyday life for many reasons: busy work schedules, domestic responsibilities, family activities, even national news events. All of these are competing for your attention. It’s important to find time in your day to reset and clear your mind, if even just to reduce anxiety. By incorporating Pilates into your exercise regime, you will inevitably find that you have found ways to seamlessly integrate mindful moments into your day. Yoga is another option that is very complimentary to Pilates, too!
If you still find it difficult to find time, even after practicing Pilates, there are many other ways to carve out some moments of mindfulness for yourself. Just 10 minutes of breathing meditation each morning can help set you on the right path. There are even smartphone apps to help you with this. Find your favorite one in your phone’s store and set a reminder each day.
Gardening is another popular option. If you have a green thumb, grow a small indoor garden with herbs and flowers and spend a few minutes each day tending to them. This will at least allow you to focus on something outside of the noise.
Benefits of Mindfulness
We’ve often talked about the benefits of Pilates, but what about the benefits of mindfulness? There are so many, but here are just a few we thought important to mention:
- lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health
- reduces chronic pain and improves sleep
- relieves stress, anxiety and depression
- sharpens the mind and reduces negative emotions
Even without the physical benefits of Pilates, mindfulness in addition to your daily exercise can only help your overall well-being!
If you are interested in adding mindfulness to your day, and if you’d like to continue your Pilates journey, contact us today and let us help you get started!