“A thinking way of movement,” was how the founder of Pilates described the controlled exercise which offers, “complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” The power of the mind and how it connects to movement is an intrinsic element to Pilates. Your mind, both conscious and subconscious, is brought into focus and has a dynamic role to play in creating a sound practice that aims to condition the whole being and create energy that lasts.
Pilates is about integration of your whole self. What this means is that Pilates is less about mindless exercise for the sake of simply working the muscles, and more about bringing body awareness into play and using this to develop core strength and improve range and mobility. Pilates is an exercise discipline based on several ideas which highlight the need for the mind to be involved.
Mind switchboard exchange
For some people, the concept of mindful exercise can be challenging. In Pilates, it is less about some intangible idea though and more about recognizing internal physical connections which are connected to the mind. As founder Joseph Pilates explained, “The brain itself is actually a sort of natural telephone switchboard exchange incorporated in our bodies as a means of communication through the sympathetic nervous system to all our muscles.” Considering Pilates is about spinal alignment then the spinal column could be seen as the conduit for the mind and body connection, or part of it.
By concentrating on each movement you are able to ensure that you are aligned and that you are moving correctly. Pilates is not a high-energy cardio workout but about awareness of what is going on with your body during your practice and beyond. In this way, concentration can ensure that you are conscious of each movement so that you can bring the attention and control necessary to stretch and build strength.
“Contrology begins with mind control over muscles.” What Joseph Pilates meant by this is that you are making a conscious effort to move in a smooth and correct form, developing your core, so that you can center yourself, breathe correctly and expand your stamina, whilst aligning the body, including the spine. These are the key principles of Pilates practice.
Improve concentration power
With practice the concentration you bring to Pilates and and subsequent controlled movements can become second nature. To improve concentration:
- Bring mindfulness and awareness into your everyday life away from Pilates. It is important to consciously bring your attention into the present moment.
- Develop better communication between your mind and your body by listening and striving to interpret the messages your physical self is sending out. It is easy to ignore or lose touch with how you feel, as people get used to and accept physical ailments and signs without really registering or acknowledging them.
- Concentration is not just about focus but about the whole essence of your mind. Allow emotions to ebb and flow, along with thoughts. Don’t try and control these. In order to concentrate and control movements you need to be able to give your emotional self some space to wander, before gently bringing thoughts back to focus.
- Complement Pilates with some cardio if you feel the need for a real high-energy workout. Create the separation in your mind so that you start to relate Pilates to a thinking based movements.
The body and the mind are essential elements in creating a sense of wellbeing, as well as being the powerful forces behind the controlled movements of Pilates. Is it time you concentrated on a more mind-centered workout?