‘Breathing is the first act of life and the last, above all, learn to breathe correctly’ JP quote.
During exercise the correct breathing techniques can help you achieve movement; breathing deep and fully can help to access the deep core muscles. It is vital to take on board much needed oxygen into the bloodstream to be carried to the muscles during a workout.
During the cool down phase of a class deep slow inhalation through the nose, exhaling through the mouth sends signals to the brain to calm down, slowing the heart rate, the body starts to relax. This can lead to a calming effecting, and therefore reduction in stress. Correct breathing techniques are a vital part of meditation used to increase happiness and general well-being.
Represents drawing on your own mental and physical focus during each exercise to the centre of the body, the core often referred to as the ‘powerhouse’. This is considered to be the area between your lower ribs and hips; it also includes the lower and upper back muscles. Many exercises are devoted to strengthening this area so that it can provide stability and support the body in everything that it is required to do.
During a Pilates class it is a requirement to focus fully on your body and the movements being performed in order to obtain the maximum physical and mental benefits. It is the mind that directs the body, by focusing your attention inwards, you can learn to feel where you are moving from, what muscles are working and when to relax certain muscles. This will increase your body awareness helping you become more efficient in your everyday movements.
Helping to stay focused requires a comfortable environment to practice, without distractions, an ambient temperature, comfortable mat, correct clothing (see our post ‘Benefits of Correct Clothing’) can help to keep the mind focused and enhance your exercise experience.
Joseph Pilates originally referred to his exercise programme as ‘Contrology’ representing the concept that is your mind that directs and manages each separate muscular movement. Pilates movements are performed slowly and deliberately, it is better to complete one perfect movement than ten haphazard ones!
When doing Pilates exercises we ‘soft-wire’ them into the brain, meaning they are a conscious effort to produce, however over time, these practises become ‘hard-wired’ into the brain and become automatic. Controlling posture or moving in a certain way will become a natural part of your life helping you to reconnect with your body through healthy movement in your everyday life.
Encourage the body to move with ease and fluidity, coordinating various body parts and movements gracefully.
Pilates requires us to move in a very precise and exact way, with an emphasis on perfecting technique. It is crucial to check and re-check the alignment of your body before and during an exercise. This approach helps to break down existing bad habits, learning to move in a better way. These techniques can be adopted throughout your life, helping with better posture, general movement and hopefully free from pain, to enable you to enjoy movement into your twilight years.