04 Apr Why Pilates helps me feel less stressed
Pilates for relaxation
For me, Pilates’ mindful movement is the perfect balance of physical exercise and relaxation of the mind. A good Pilates session will leave me feeling like I have worked into all the nooks and crannies, rediscovered muscles I had forgotten about but also given my mind a chance to step away from everyday life.
When most people think of Pilates they imagine muscle strengthening, working their core and a series of challenging abdominal exercises! Whilst strength and mobility will always be the primary focus of a class, you need to connect to your mind to achieve this and see results.
Breathe, focus and slow…
I often feel that there isn’t enough emphasis on the breathing and the time a class gives you to truly focus on your body, how it’s moving and how it feels. How often do you really give your mind the space to step away from the madness of daily life to connect with your body? To feel what it is doing, where it might feel tense, tight or less mobile?
Pilates relies on your mind thinking about both mobility and stability – keeping one part of your body still while another part moves. You have to REALLY concentrate to do this effectively and your breathing must work with your muscles to both engage and relax the correct parts of the body. It’s challenging but a wonderful opportunity for the mind to focus on something other than your long list of jobs, the state of your house or that difficult project at work…!
On days when I feel overwhelmed by life and anxiety begins to creep in, I take to my Pilates mat and I slow things down. I scale back the exercises to spend some extra time focusing on my breathing and how my body is moving that day. I do the exercises I enjoy because they make me feel good and I do the ones I don’t because they make me feel I’ve challenged myself just the right amount. I breath deeply and laterally into my ribcage, which slows my heart rate and relaxes my muscles.
If you struggle with traditional meditation, Pilates’ mindful movement might be the right kind of stress relief for you. There is no competition in class; you can take or leave what you want from a session depending on how you feel that day. A good teacher will give you a variety of cues to focus on, varying the emphasis on breathing to body alignment to muscle activation, and will provide variations on exercises so you can take it at your own pace. Some days you may want to do less repetitions or an easier exercise so you can focus on your breathing – and that is absolutely fine.
There are lots of different Pilates classes available through The Luna Hive. Take the time to try some different classes and find a style and teacher that is right for you. If budget affords, a 121 session will allow you to really tailor a class to your personal needs and get to grips with the basics. Give it a try and see if it works for you. Good luck!
To book in with Lucy, visit her profile below.