Pilates and the Concept of Mindfulness
Pilates is Mindful Exercise
Nowadays, almost everyone from football players, to celebrities, to rehab clients and aging populations are looking to regain mobility see and feel the benefits of including a mindful type of workout in their exercise regime. Is mindful Pilates exercise right for you?
In the words of the late Joseph Pilates “Pilates teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy”.
Ahead of his time Mr Pilates was aware of the positive health outcomes and benefits of connecting mind to body in order to achieve total body control. This is achieved with the use of attention and concentration to monitor one’s present-moment experiences in order to precisely execute complex movements. Pilates exercise is build on the concept of mindfulness as observed on the original exercise’s principles: Breathing, Concentration, Control, Centring, Precision and Fluidity.
At our Kensington High Street studio we teach our clients mindfulness from beginning to advanced through breath, concentration and attention to detail.
Pilates Requires Concentration and Full Attention
I often encounter clients who struggle in Pilates with movement execution. They don’t seem to be able to connect their mind to their body. Some may think these clients lack body awareness. However, I believe this is not the case. In most instances such clients are just not able to concentrate on the task in hand. You cannot be thinking about our shopping list whilst trying to practise Pilates. As simple as this may sound, you must be able to concentrate, be aware of your breath, your entire body and in the present. In order to be able to connect your muscles, move with precision to be able to execute Pilates exercises you must mindfully train and attention monitor your body. Thus, this is why Pilates is considered a mindful exercise.
Lindsay et al. 2016, summarise the basic mechanisms underlying mindfulness and mindfulness training effects “Attention monitoring is defined as ongoing awareness of present-moment sensory and perceptual experiences (e.g., sounds in the environment, specific body sensations, mental dialogue and images). This capacity to monitor momentary experience relies on selective and executive attention networks”.
Therefore, practising mindfulness training, such as Pilates exercise can improve selective and executive attention ability and working memory, thus, improving the ability to execute more complex movements. At our Kensington studio we teach small group classes that feel like semi-privates and allow the participant to focus on their technique and perfect their craft.
What we know about the benefits of mindfulness training
Pilates mindful movement may help with improving your quality of life by reducing stress, mood enhancement, and cognitive functioning.
Evidence suggests that mindful movement (e.g., yoga, tai chi, walking meditation) may even outperform conventional physical exercise with regard to effects on quality of life, mood, and cognitive functioning (Laird et al. 2018).
Recognising the emerging trends of mindfulness in movement
With over 3000 new scientific publications over the past 15 years, it is apparent that public interest on mindfulness and mindfulness interventions has increased, so has the literature on this subject dramatically expanded.
“Notably, randomised controlled trials indicate that mindfulness training can impact a broad range of outcomes, including effects on cognition and affect (e.g., attention, working memory, emotion regulation” (Lindsay et al. 2016).
Busy Lives, Hard to Focus
In the midst of our busy lives where we scantily find time to be with ourselves for a minute, mindful training can be quite beneficial.
Pilates exercise can help, and a growing body of research suggests that mindfulness training, such as Pilates exercise can improve negative affectivity, stress, and stress-related health outcomes.
At our new boutique studio at 375 Kensington High Street we will facilitate the concept of mindfulness without distractions. Our architectural design is aimed at appointing our facilities with beautiful relaxing elements that are conducive to mind-body exercise.
Blog written by Carlo Yanez
Registered Osteopath B.A.(Hons.), BSc.Ost.(Hons)
Fully certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor
Laird, K.T. et al., 2018. Mind-Body Therapies for Late-Life Mental and Cognitive Health. Current Psychiatry Reports, 20(1).
Lindsay EK, Creswell JD. Mechanisms of Mindfulness Training: Monitor and Acceptance Theory (MAT). Clinical psychology review. 2017;51:48-59. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2016.10.011.