Pilates and the Mind-Body Connection

Pilates is often referred to as “the thinking person’s exercise.” When practiced correctly, Pilates will help you achieve a deep mind-body connection.

how it works

The seven principles of Pilates — centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, flow and endurance — all require you to think about the way you are moving your body.

This exercise emphasizes proper form. It’s about the quality of the movements, rather than the quantity of repetitions.

Pilates teaches you to understand your body’s framework. You’ll learn to feel misalignments, as well as structural and muscular imbalances; and then you’ll learn how to correct them.

The instruction you receive will help you visualize the relationship between the muscular and skeletal system. For example, your instructor may refer to the “space” between your hip bones and rib cage, and show you how to maximize that space by strengthening and lengthening the deep abdominal and back muscles.

Proper Pilates exercises are not about mindlessly strengthening and toning. Rather, they require you to actively use your mind as you move your body (therefore fostering a mind-body connection).

the effects

You’ll start to notice that the principles you apply during Pilates class and the mind/body connection you learn to achieve become present as you move in your everyday activities.

You’ll move more effectively with less strain on the body. As you become more aware of your body in relation to the space around you, you may find that you’re more balanced and graceful, and even have better reaction times.

Many injuries occur because of incorrect movement — either while exercising or during everyday activity. The control and precision that Pilates teaches can help avoid injuries.

A mind-body connection can also help reduce stress. As you strengthen your sense of body awareness, you might start to notice how your stress manifests physically — whether you carry it in your neck, shoulders, back, etc. When you learn where you carry unnecessary tension, you can start to correct it. The reduced physical stress will result in reduced overall stress.

Disconnect between the body and mind can result in a lack of awareness about what your body needs, leading to poor posture, muscular imbalances, discomfort and even depression. The mind-body connection you build in Pilates can help correct this.