Finding an exercise routine that allows you to stay present during movement, such as Pilates, can translate into added benefits in everyday movement. The cues you receive during a Pilates session aren't just for that Hundred or leg circle movement on the Tower; but rather allow you to absorb new patterns that you can take into regular activities.
Here are a few ways that Pilates can benefit you throughout your week:
Breath: If you are here, you are breathing. We just do it. However, one of the benefits of conscious breath and breath control is being able to utilize it intentionally, like during moments of stress or rigorous movement. Many of us hold our breath during these times, which can make those particular moments much more difficult. Consciously inhaling and exhaling, let's say during traffic frustration, or during a difficult conversation, can help keep your body relaxed. During a Pilates session, the consistent focus on breath may seem trivial, but it takes practice and is incredibly important. Listening to those cues during a session is part of that practice.
Postural Adjustments: You may think your instructor is just being extra picky in trying to adjust your shoulders or pelvis or head position during a class (ok, maybe SOMETIMES we instructors are too picky, but we mean well!) However, these cues allow your body to get accustom to staying in alignment, which does translate to different movement patterns in the everyday. For instance, movements on the Reformer with the shoulder blocks cue your shoulders to stay squared during various exercises; this can translate to how you sit in a chair, drive in your car, or even stand while doing dishes. Of course, you can still do all of these things, but learning how to adjust different bony landmarks and organize your posture during your Pilates practice definitely can help you move more efficiently, and perhaps with less pain.
Balance: Balance is what we've worked on since infancy, and it's something that we continue to improve upon in later age. As an instructor, I believe I've witness that it's something that many of us take for granted. There are so many different ways that we work on balance in Pilates, like in the practice of Footwork, to improve foot strength, ankle stability and so much more. There are more obvious balance movements in kneeling or standing positions on the moving Reformer carriage, requiring core strength and hip stability.
The more you practice the more benefits you reap. I love to see clients execute during exercises during these sessions, but it's especially exciting for them to come back and say they've seen able to see improvements in their life: returning a serve quicker during tennis; running without heel pain; getting on the floor with a child or grandchild with less pain; or simply being able to balance on one foot while brushing their teeth. These are the type of improvements that make life a bit easier, more enjoyable...all from a consistent movement practice.