It’s no secret that Pilates is a practice packed with benefits, including strengthening your core, improving posture and flexibility, and developing good body awareness - just to name a few. While your time in the studio offers the perfect place to learn and practice everything from proper movement to breath awareness, it is really the application of this new knowledge that makes Pilates so valuable! This leads us to the idea...
Get the most from your Pilates practice by applying what you learn in the studio to your daily life.
During class, we focus a lot on core engagement. Don’t disengage when class is over! Your core is the basis of almost every movement you make throughout the day, so be mindful of how you use it to really reap the benefits of your Pilates sessions. Think about gently engaging your core before doing activities such as moving a heavy item, carrying groceries, climbing a flight of stairs, or bending down to reach a cabinet. Keeping your core muscles active while you move throughout your day will distribute your body’s work across muscle groups and reduce the risk for injury (not to mention further strengthen those key muscles)!
Life in the fast lane can be exhausting. Our regular Pilates sessions offer us a chance to focus on slow, well-controlled movement. What if you applied that purposeful and controlled manner to all your activities? Instead of rushing from A to B on autopilot, try to move with intention. Ever find yourself in such a hurry you knock over your morning coffee or hit your funny bone on the corner of some piece of furniture? (Trust us, we know, there’s nothing funny about bruising your funny bone.) You can avoid all of the rush-induced mishaps that come with sudden and jerky motions when you bring the Pilates principles of control and concentration to your daily life.
Joseph Pilates felt strongly about the importance of posture and science tends to agree.
“Never slouch as doing so compresses the lungs, overcrowds other vital organs, rounds the back, and throws you off balance.” ~ Joseph Pilates
Whether you’re sitting, standing, walking, or lounging on the couch, posture is in play. Much like your core muscles (which are crucial to maintaining proper posture!), your posture is involved in everything you do, every day. Think about what you’ve learned in your classes concerning posture - call on your Pilates stance! Lengthen your spine, lift the abs in and up. Draw on the cues your instructor uses and incorporate them to be energized and ache-free at the end of your day.
Take a Breath
Something else involved in everything you do? Breathing.
“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” ~ Joseph Pilates
Bring some Pilates-style deep breathing into your day to boost your mood, improve circulation, and reduce stress. Proper breathing fosters the mind-body connection, but it also serves a key function in your body: transporting oxygen to the brain. Stress and anxiety have a tendency to present physically as shortened breaths, which restricts this key element from reaching its destination. Pilates breathing is a powerful addition to your day, whether you’re combatting stress or simply building mind-body awareness.
Stretch it Out
This is an idea you’ve surely heard before: bring some Pilates stretches home! Stretching keeps us limber and flexible, and although your regularly scheduled Pilates sessions help you in those areas, choosing a few stretches to do on a daily basis can have a serious impact. Select a few of your favorites from your class, or ask your instructor to help you develop a quick set of stretches specific to you. Add them to your morning, before bed, or work break (ideas on that here!) routine to improve your flexibility on and off the reformer.
Pilates is a powerful practice, connecting your mind, body, and soul. Take full advantage of all you’re learning by bringing these simple but profound applications to your day.