The Unexpected Benefits of Pilates
These days we hear a lot about Pilates & most people can list off the benefits of practicing it without ever having done a class.
There are the usual suspects of improved posture, a stronger core, injury rehabilitation, feeling better about yourself when you’re wearing a swimsuit etc but the benefits are actually far more wide-reaching than that.
Develop Muscle Memory
I really believe that my years of learning how to use my body in a subtle & co-ordinated way through Pilates is helping me to learn the violin of all things. With the violin (and many other instruments as well) you are constantly checking that your shoulders are relaxed, your wrists are relaxed & in the right position, the fingers on the bowing hand are relaxed, your back is straight, all the things that help you play better, all the things you constantly check within your body as you’re practising Pilates.
They’re both about building up muscle memory that allows you to learn new patterns of movement until these new movements become ingrained & automatic. And the only way to do that is through repetition.
Principles of Pilates starts with relaxation
Most people think that Pilates requires a lot of effort. And it does require some effort but one of the principles of Pilates is relaxation. You’re training your body to move more efficiently, so that means letting go of bad habits. You learn how to relax the parts of you that don’t need to be working so hard & to engage the muscles that could do with working harder.
So in class we spend time learning how to let go of tension that isn’t needed. A surprising side effect of this can be experienced when you’re at home being lazy. When you’re feeling lazy being a strong & flexible person comes in handy. It makes your lazing a better experience. You can truly luxuriate.
For eg, you’re lying sprawled out on the couch. The item that you need is resting just beyond your straightened legs. You’re extremely comfortable & you do NOT want to have to get up off the couch. You do not want your feet to touch the ground, they’re too tired. In the past I would have had to really disturb myself & haul myself up off the couch to get whatever it is I wanted (my book, iPad, the remote, whatever).
But now I can just roll up to sitting, reach forward & grab whatever it is I want, then roll back down & all of this with such little effort that I hardly notice I’m even doing it.
I get such a kick out of this because once upon a time I was the LEAST flexible person in Ireland & touching my toes was an impossibility. I was lucky to get past my knees. And even getting that far required lots of straining. Which means as well as teaching me how to be strong & flexible, pilates teaches me how to be efficient with my movements & most importantly it teaches me how to relax.
Skip this next bit if you hate cats!
I find that Pilates has helped me bond with my cats. Sometimes they do up stretches with me. Up stretches are downward dogs but they don’t like that name, they think it should be called downward animal (but that’s a whole other article).
They also like to sit on my mat. No actually they don’t, they LOVE to sit on my mat! And I can see the respect in their eyes when I do my practice (and maybe a bit of confusion).
Another thing that improves is Dancing
Once you build up your Pilates practice you will find yourself pulling new shapes that you never thought were possible & maybe, just maybe your chances of dancing in a video by Jungle might become a reality.
And did I mention the benefits to your sex life? Maybe this isn’t the forum for that particular conversation but start doing Pilates & you’ll figure it out for yourself!
Have you noticed any other unexpected benefits? Start paying attention! Join me for our Beginners Foundation Course and learn how to relax & focus your body into the unexpected benefits of Pilates!!